Founding a start-up company: George's story

Meet George, 25, from Bristol. Find out about his life as the owner of Tobooka, a company that helps groups of friends find unique holiday experiences. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

George smiling.
"My job is all about growing the business."

What is your job?

I'm the managing director and founder of a travel company called Tobooka. We help groups find holidays in the UK which include fun activities.

As the managing director, it's my job to grow the business so I do things like apply for grant funding, interview and hire people, and do lots of financial planning.

What skills do you use in your job?

Computer literacy and IT skills are essential for any start-up company and I use maths skills every day. For example, I use spreadsheets so I can track how much money is coming in and going out of the business.

I use communication skills to talk to customers, inspire my team to work hard and plan ahead for the future.

George's team.

How did you come to start your own business?

After I finished university, I started working for a big IT company on a graduate scheme. I loved it at the start, but over time the progress of growth slowed. This was the main thing that motivated me to start working for myself.

It was tricky to start with. When I was in education, I had a clear plan for where I was going. But when I left my graduate job, I suddenly wasn't earning an income anymore and had to move back in with my parents so I could get started again.

Top tips

  • Make contact with businesses and people you think are awesome right now. You can ask to do some work experience or shadow someone in the team and, if they say yes, you'll get to understand what those jobs are like
  • Follow the subjects you enjoy – for me, it was Science and Maths.

What to expect if you want to be self-employed

Working for yourself looks different for each person and each business, but in general it means you:

  • run your own business and are responsible for its success
  • can decide how, when and where you do your work
  • charge an agreed, fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit
  • can hire people at your own expense to help you or to do the work for you.

The salary and working hours when you own a business can vary enormously but what's most important is that you work hard and love what you do.

You can be both employed and self-employed at the same time. You can work for your employer during the day, for example, and run your own business in the evenings and at weekends. It’s important to contact HMRC for advice if you’re not sure if you’re self-employed.

You can get help with setting up or developing your business, through the government’s business support services, for example, for advice about tax or how to find funding to start your business.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, GOV.UK)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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