10 tips, five websites, and you’re off! Who said retirement had to be about putting your feet up?

Allan Esler Smith is joint-author of the best-selling Good Retirement Guide

Allan Esler Smith is joint-author of the best-selling Good Retirement Guide - Credit: Archant

If you think you’re in the final lap of your working life, don’t be so quick to hang up your hat and take things easy.

Hitchin accountant and author Allan Esler Smith, whose Good Retirement Guide is a best seller

Hitchin accountant and author Allan Esler Smith, whose Good Retirement Guide is a best seller - Credit: Archant

Hitchin-based accountant Allan Esler Smith is one of the two authors of the annual Good Retirement Guide, an Amazon bestseller crammed with top tips for anyone who is looking at big changes in their lives.

And he reckons that rather than pull on the slippers and put your feet up, it could be the ideal time to start up on your own.

“I’ve helped hundreds of people start a small business, including many forty and fiftysomethings fed up with the corporate nine to five. Perhaps this could also be you?

“The government views small business as one of the growth engines in the UK economy.

The Good Retirement Guide

The Good Retirement Guide - Credit: Archant

“Small business ultimately feeds off big business and this backdrop has been boosted by radical pension changes which could help you leverage earnings from a small business to great effect, particularly when you can involve your husband/wife/partner.

He says there is stacks of help out there if you know where to look – check out his top five websites.

www.gov.uk/browse/businesswww.greatbusiness.gov.ukwww.startupbritain.orgwww.enterprisenation.comwww.princes-trust.org.uk if you’re under 30

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And here are his current top ten tips, some of which he shared at a book launch event at Hitchin’s Eric T. Moore bookshop last month.

Talk and talk with other friends who have started a small business and understand their lifestyle, the quality and consistency of their work and, importantly, how they get their work.

Underestimate the importance of your network in getting work at your peril – especially those great people you worked with 10 years ago, where are they now? Try Linkedin and don’t burn any bridges as it is a small world out there.

Poor planning is a hallmark of many businesses that have struggled, although I do understand why many folk struggle with the concept of a business plan. I’ll simply borrow a quote from the man who led D-Day. Dwight Eisenhower said: “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. I promise that planning will help you tease out opportunities, or threats. If you struggle with this try asking a colleague who now runs a business or your accountant for some help to get you started.

Make sure your accountant is qualified and holds a practicing certificate and knows how to help you lever tax breaks and mitigate tax risks. Check out who will be your day to day contact and then, after taking a deep breath first, ask for the firms hourly rates, who regulates them, check they hold professional indemnity insurance and that they know your business sector.

Invest in yourself through training or buy in specialist skills. Marketing and selling skills do not come easily to everyone but you are never too old to learn new tricks.

Understand the differences between the trading options available to you. These include a company OR a partnership OR working as a sole trader. Your personal wealth is underwriting your business in the last two formats so carefully assess risk and think carefully about getting insurance.

Join a professional or trade association that provides a free legal helpline for business questions and tax investigations insurance. Consultants and contractors should check out www.ipse.co.uk and for other businesses www.fsb.org.uk is well worth seeking out.

Consider the benefits of insurance (public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, product insurance and more). Some firms offer these as a bundle for a slight discount so do shop around and ask other business owners for recommendations.

Don’t end up wishing you had done this – or at least thought about it – years ago.

Buy the Good Retirement Guide 2016 which is packed with general advice on finance, leisure, tax and contains over 50 pages of guidance on starting a small business.

The latest edition of the Good Retirement Guide, written by Frances Kay and Allen Esler Smith, was published at the beginning of the year and runs to 296 pages. It’s available through Amazon and other online retailers at £19.99, and is also stocked by bookshops.