ARE you worried that next year will be the same as last year? And the year before that? Are you stuck in a job that you feel is going nowhere? Have you thought about branching out on your own? Do you have a great idea for a new business but you don’t know where to start?

If your answers to those questions is ‘Yes’, then maybe this is the time to take that step.

Nobody is pretending that it’ll be easy, but with help from Cumbria ERDF Business Start-Up Support (BSUS), the New Year could mean a change of life.

BSUS offers a comprehensive package of support, and is delivered by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, as part of Cumbria Business Growth Hub. It’s designed specifically for people thinking of starting in business, and young businesses in their first three years of trading.

So, if you, or someone you know, is considering starting their own business, here are four important things you need to do:

1. Prepare to invest your weekends/spare time

You’ll probably have to continue with the ‘day job’ – and a regular income - while you start setting up your new business. There will be sacrifices, but if you are determined and focused, you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Think carefully about your USP

What are your specific skills? Can you offer customers anything ‘unique’? Perhaps you’re a hairdresser who is great with cutting kids’ hair? Or a talented electrician in a large team whose skills are not being recognised or utilised? Everyone has their own Unique Selling Point – you just have to identify it.

3. Recognise your skills and choose the right business/sector for you

You might actually have some very different skills to the ones you’re using for your job, so going self-employed could mean a complete career change. Be honest with yourself. Identify your particular strengths and then choose the right sector where they’ll be best used.

4. Contact Cumbria Business Growth Hub support for free advice around funding

Now that you have made that big decision to launch, you need to speak to the experts at the Cumbria Growth Hub. You can get free advice and help to draw up a business plan, you can enroll on a free three-day course covering the basics of starting a business. You may even qualify for a grant. Go to the website or give the friendly Growth Hub support team a ring on 0844 257 84 50 and have a chat.

What have you got to lose? Every New Year is a chance for new opportunities, you just have to be brave and believe in yourself.

We believe in you.