The BTWEA STEA Initial Inquiry Form
This is actually the first question of the BTWEA STEA Initial Inquiry Form. The employment background question is looking to understand your previous work experience. If you held a PAYE job or owned a business previously, put down the relevant experience here.
1. Have you ever been Self-Employed before? If yes, when and what was the business?
Previous self-employment provides great learning to start-ups. If you were previously self-employed, you will be asked for a letter of cessation and a tax clearance certificate to make sure the previous business has stopped trading. You also can’t reopen the old business. The new business idea must be clearly different to the new idea.
2. Were you previously in receipt of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance? If yes, when did payment end and what was the business?
Previous BTWEA recipients have to wait 5 years from the time their last Back to Work Enterprise Allowance claim finished. Put N/A here if you haven’t gotten the BTWEA before. If you have, explain the period you got the BTWEA and what business you ran. EG. Jan 2014-Jan 2016 – Cleaning Company.
4. Description of New Business, name and idea? What is your “Elevator pitch” (Short Description of your proposed new business)
For this question you need to remember that this is still before you have officially started. The business name isn’t final until you have submitted your CRO (name registration). Try to explain the business in simple terms. A paragraph is enough. No need for complication.
E.G. My business name will be Bennett Interiors I will be a sole trader. Bennett interiors will do home renovations, painting, destruction, bedroom and kitchen installations and more.
5. What experience have you in this sector/ industry?
If you have previously worked in this area as a PAYE worker, put your experience in here. You may also have volunteered your time to help friends and family or done something similar as a hobby.
Some industries also have regulatory bodies. For example, you need to have electricians apprenticeship if you would like to set up as an electrician. If you have an apprenticeship, include it.
6. Do you intend to trade as a Sole traders, Limited Company or Partnership? Are there any other parties involved in your business?
A sole trader is where there is one person who owns the company and they are registered as a sole trader. Effectively, you are the business and you would be liable if the business got into debt. Setting up as a sole trader is the easiest of the three.
A limited company means there needs to be at least two directors who own and manage the company. You can set up the business where you are the managing director and a third party (eg accountant or solicitor) is the company secretary. A limited company is a separate entity from you and you wouldn’t personally be held liable for the debts of the business. If the business got into debt, the creditors can only pursue the assets of the business (provided you haven’t acted fraudulently). For further information, click here.
A partnership is an agreement between you and at least one other person to go into business together as partners. This is reasonably uncommon as a limited company is typically more attractive. Partners in a general partnership will typically hold equal share in profits and liabilities. For more information, click here.
7. How much and what kind of preparation/ planning/ market research have you done in relation to the new business?
Every new start-up benefits from the owner doing their homework and planning. What have you done to prepare yourself for starting this business? Have you done a start your own business course? Did you already buy tools, equipment, materials or anything for the business?
Google similar businesses to understand who will be your competition, where they operate from, what they charge. Then think about your customer, who are they, where do they live, how many of them are there and more.
8. When do you think the business could launch?
The start date of the business is entirely up to you and when you are ready. Setting a start date can help to clarify your intentions and give you the push to prepare.
It is also worth noting that after completing the expression of interest / pre-assessment questionnaire, your case officer will either do an Assessment of Suitability or refer you to your local Enterprise Development Officer. If you are given an assessment of suitability, you have 12 weeks to submit a full application. Again, progress as you are ready.
9. How do you plan on getting your product/ service to market?
Your business will need to market and advertise your products in order to make sales. How will you reach your audience? Will you use any of the following? Social media, a website, flyers, business cards, brochures.
10. Who are your customers and how do you plan to reach them?
Knowing your customer and their needs are two of the biggest reasons some businesses succeed and some don’t. What can you tell us about your customer? Are they male/female, Dublin based, high, moderate or low income earners? Include as much detail as you want but when you go to launch the business, you should have as much depth as possible.
Regarding how you plan to reach them – see question 8.
11. What is the unique selling point of the proposed New Business? Why do you believe customers will choose your business over competitors?
The unique selling point of a new business is what you do differently to other similar businesses. Are you offering the same products in a different way? Will you have cheaper prices or better quality? Will you target a different customer base than the big competitors? What can you do that will be different that what is already out there?
For example: Netflix’s unique selling proposition is that the provide tv and movies online at your convenience which sets them apart from Xtravision and regular television.
12. Who are your Competitors? Are there many locally? Have you looked at your pricing structure in comparison to theirs?
If you are going into business, you have got to know the market. Are there businesses like yours based locally? Are there many? Will you charge similar prices or try to beat theirs? One thing this question is looking to find out is if any other business will be harmed by you entering the market so we need to be sure that there is enough demand for your business in the area you intend to operate.
13. What costs will be involved in setting up the new business and how will you finance these costs?
Every business requires some level of investment. If you have already purchased tools, put down what you paid for them. If there are significant costs involved in the business, where will you get the money? Do you have savings? Will you borrow or take out a loan? Make sure to be clear that you can access the money and tools/equipment you need to start the business right away.
14. Do you have all the equipment/materials you need to start trading IMMEDIATELY if your BTWEA/STEA is awarded?
The answer to this question should be yes. BTWEA recipients are expected to hit the ground running. If you don’t have the equipment to start by the time you are filling this form out, explain that you intend to get it before starting the business. If there are items that would be good to have or allow you to do bigger jobs, explain that you will purchase these down the line but that they are not going to be an obstacle to starting out.
15. Can you explain how the business will generate revenue?
Your business will generate revenue by marketing your products/services to clients who are interested. When you find interested clients, they will purchase from you using cash, card or bank transfer. Decide which payment types you will take. Will you take a deposit from the client? Will you need a contract?
16. Where will the business operate from? Rental costs etc?
This answer needs to be thought out carefully.
From home: If you are operating a business from home, have you got the necessary permissions and insurance coverage?
Rented premises: If you are operating from a premises, have you got a rental quote? If the business depends on the STEA or back to work enterprise allowance, please do not take out a rental agreement or lease until you are approved. For industries like beauty and hair stylist, BTWEA cannot be granted if you are only renting a chair in a salon.
From client premises: If you will work from a van or a clients premises and do your paperwork at home, this is a straightforward answer.
16. What is the motivation behind this business?
What is driving you to set up the business?
17. Is there potential for the business to grow? What is your vision for the business?
Every business has the potential to grow provided you have done your homework and gained enough traction. Where do you want to see the business in a couple of years? Will you expand to new areas? Attract new customers? Bid for public or private contracts?
18. What skills do you have that will ensure this is a success?
Conducting a skills audit on yourself is really helpful. What skills do I have that will make this a success?
For example: I am an experienced carpenter with a number of years of experience. I have done much of this work before for a previous employer so I have all the necessary skills.