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Starting a Small Business/Performing Arts Business


Hi Lee,

I'm hoping you can offer me even a little bit of advice as my head is pickled...!

A friend and I (both qualified secondary level music and drama teachers) are planning to set up a performing arts academy in Northern Ireland. It'll basically provide one to one lessons on a variety of instruments, dance classes in a variety of styles, speech and drama classes, music theory, music ensembles (orchestra, quartets, choirs etc.) and revision classes for GCSE and A Level music courses.

We'll obviously be charging for all of these courses and lessons, which is how we'll make our profit. We'll be employing a variety of specialists in each of the areas too.

The thing is, we know we need to 'register' the business in some way, but we don't know who we are supposed to register with.

The main problem though is that we don't know what KIND of business we should register as. Would a venture such as this be a limited company, a partnership, a community interest group or something completely different? We've done a ton of reading around the topic of business models and can justify quite a few. We're currently drowning in facts and figures and "helpful hints" that are just leaving us even more confused...!

I'm contacting you as we are in desperate need of professional advice and guidance!

Really appreciate you taking the time to read this!


There are several people you need to keep happy: inland Revenue, VAT, your investors and  the bank manager. All of these can cause big problems, so register with the first two straight away. I cannot give legal advice but I can suggest that you get all your financial information together and  spend an hour with a good small business accountant,

You really need to sit down and write a business plan to include your business, financial and marketing strategy as well as details of the products and services you are selling. This should help you get unmuddled.

Lastly look around for a small business' advice center. HM government has details of your nearest one as well as some great advice. Do not look at the get rich schemes.

You might be getting perilously close to being a school and there are regulations for this so you need to ensure you are on the comfortable side of this reqypuriremt.

Lastly make sure that you get a good website, Facebook page and Twitter page. Hop onto to find lots of people happy to do this for not much money. will give you some cheap marketing as well.


Starting a Small Business

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Lee Lister


If you are a serious entrepreneur and want to set up your own business or ensure that your existing business is more profitable then let me assist you. I answer questions on business start up, business strategy, business models, business planning, marketing plans, marketing strategy, branding, business tune ups and business improvement. I do not answer any legal, tax or accountancy questions - you should see your own professional adviser about these. If you cannot be bothered to read and rate my answers - I can't be bothered to answer yours! If you have a small internet based company, I would welcome your help in completing a survey and helping me with my Masters Dissertation. I am researching how a small company can build its brand and grow quickly using social media marketing. The survey takes 4 minutes and all information is confidential and will NEVER be used for marketing purposes. Thank you in advance. The link to the survey is below:


Over 20 year’s management, IT and business consultancy experience with businesses large and small as well as being a serial entrepreneur.

A prolific writer and published author, I write on entrepreneurship, project, bid management and career improvement.

BA (Hons) Economics MSc Marketing Management , studying for DBA. Numerous business qualifications.

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