Tag Archives: Self-Employment

Start a business, but not for the wrong reasons

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If you are planning to start a business, it is important to understand “why” you are doing so. Each venture has its own “why” and mission. However, some reasons are the wrong ones to begin with, and I will talk about 3 of them in this piece  The motivation to start a business vary for each founder or founding team. You may be seeking to offer an innovation, improve an existing process, or fill an existing market gap.  However, as a consultant, I have noticed a new wave of “aspiring” business owners who are seeking to become entrepreneurs. Yet, their reasons for doing so are shallow and lack a valid commercial basis.  Some of the common themes among these wrong reasons are: 1. Not wanting to have a boss  The mindset of starting a business so you can not have a boss to answer to is a dangerous one.  You are indeed in charge of everything and there is not a superior that you have to be accountable to.  Nevertheless, I learnt that even as a business owner, your customers and other stakeholders are your boss. These are parties that you must keep happy and be accountable to.  Thus, the idea that by being a business owner you will forfeit accountability is incorrect.  2. Getting rich quickly I am not denying that businesses are commercial entities. Hence, making money is the primary motive.  However, entrepreneurship should not be viewed as the gateway to getting rich quickly. This is unlikely to happen rapidly in the case of most businesses and it will take time, risk, resources and patience.  If you are unwilling to invest the abovementioned into starting a business and are looking to make a quick buck, you may be in for disappointment.  3. Ego and vanity Lastly, if starting a business is a tool to stroke your ego and “show off”, you are in for the wrong reason. My philosophy is that the first step towards starting a business is to drop your ego and adopt the mindset that you know nothing.  These are 3 common wrong reasons for starting a business. Before doing so, make sure that you have a clear “why” and emphasise the commercial context of starting a business.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I now help other entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

How I started a tech startup with £500 & scaled it to 30+ UK cities

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Following the completion of my master’s degree, I founded a tech startup called StudyFlats. Within 3 years, I scaled this PropTech company to over 30 UK cities, with a client base in over 50 countries.  As a solo non-technical founder, the idea for StudyFlats seemed far-fetched at first. My business idea was first put to the test when I spoke to Newcastle University. I was an international student in the UK on a visa and therefore had to obtain the correct visa.  I pitched the idea to Newcastle University and managed to receive an endorsement for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa scheme. This was the former equivalent of the former Startup Visa in the UK.  The first year  The first year was one of the most difficult years of my life. I was a 22-year-old graduate, with a laptop and £500 in my bank account. Not to mention that I had no coding knowledge/background and thus could not create the website myself.  I was getting quotes upwards of £10,000 from agencies to create StudyFlats’ website. Needless to say, these were not an option and I was stuck.  At the same time, a very dear friend of mine from University, introduced me to a developer who agreed to complete the backend functionalities, whilst I learnt the other parts, especially SEO as I knew I’d heavily rely on it.  In the meantime, I was proofreading students’s assignments and dissertations to fund the business and my daily expenses (living in a single room with shared toilets that year was no fun at all).  The lesson that I learnt was: where there’s a will there’s a way. I had no option but to grow this company despite all the hurdles.  The second & third years year  In the second and third years, things began to improve.  By the second year, StudyFlats operated in 10 cities. However, this is also when a major competitor began scaling with £70m of funding! It is also worth noting that StudyFlats worked with contractors/freelancers during the second year. Hence, there was no “team” at this point and I essentially did everything that was needed.  However, I adopted 2 strategies that gained a unique competitive advantage for StudyFlats, which was integral to its growth. These were: By the end of 2019, we were a team of five, operated across 30+ UK cities, consulted 1000+ students from 50+ countries, and had investors approaching us themselves.  March 2020: goodbye And this is where the brutal reality hits: you can do everything right and things can still go south.  With the events of 2020, I was reluctant to maintain the company’s operations for that period as it seemed extremely unpredictable and possibly a recipe for liability.  Additionally, we needed cash to maintain the company’s operations, yet this was simply not possible as we paused our operations. By 2021, I considered relaunching the company’s operations. However, after considering several factors including the desire to do what I do now as a consultant, I made the very difficult decision that every founder resents. However, I see StudyFlats as a learning experience, the driver of my settlement in the UK and an opportunity that was missed due to factors outside my control. We live and learn, it is what it is.  Starting and scaling a (tech) startup is not for the faint-hearted. It involves pain, uncertainty, disappointment, rejection and loneliness. But in the end, it can all be worth it, as it was in my case.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

Are online courses useful for people starting their own business?

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If you are thinking of starting your own business, then you may have considered completing online courses. In recent years, there has been an unprecedented surge in the provision of online courses, especially around starting your own business. However, are they useful? Or simply useless? The answer to the above is: it depends. Online courses can be useful for people who want to start their own business. However, you must use them in the right way and with the right intention.  Let me answer this question differently. Generally, with business, you are preoccupied with three key questions: The question is whether an online course would be appropriate for and beneficial in answering those three questions.  Online courses are useless for the “Why”  There are a myriad of courses on “business mindset”, “growth hacks”, “growth mindset”, “billionaire mindset” and so on.  These promise to give you the right mindset to make your billions (and yes, it is most definitely utter BS).  I believe that any entrepreneur should start a business out of their instinct. They should not need any person or entity telling them why they should start a business or get into the right mindset of setting one.  Entrepreneurship is a journey of evolution  Understanding the context of this article demands an understanding of the philosophy of entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurship is inherently defined by risk and uncertainty. It is unconventional. There is a reason why the majority do not pursue this path, despite not necessarily loving their daily jobs. It is about understanding and accepting that you are taking a massive risk. You can do everything right, and it can still fail.  Therefore, beginning this journey under a guided course is the wrong way to approach this path.  Online courses are good for the “What” and the “How” Now that we have clarified where online courses for starting a business are not helpful, let’s consider the other side.  I elaborated on a few points concerning entrepreneurship. Here are an additional 2 that are relevant: skills and knowledge.  Implementing, managing and executing a business venture demands certain skills, and it may be specific to each founder and business.  This is where online courses “may” be helpful for people starting their businesses. So long as you identify the following: Let’s look at an example below (me): Sohrab wants to start an online consultancy business. His main way of getting clients is online through his website and Google search. Therefore, Sohrab needs to understand Google Analytics to analyse his website’s performance. In this case, an online course on Google Analytics could be helpful for Sohrab.  Starting your own business can be daunting. Need help? About My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four prior to 2020. Currently, I help other entrepreneurs start their businesses.

The general costs of running a limited company in the UK

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If you want to start a business in the UK, one of the most common ways is through incorporating a limited company.  There are various business structures in the UK that one may start a business through. The most common ways are: It is ultimately up to you to decide which structure fits you best. Each has its own tax implications and regulatory requirements.  However, assuming that you wish to start a limited company in the UK, below are some of the costs that you will incur. Accounting  Limited companies require the director(s) to submit annual accounts. Preparing and filing a limited company’s accounts, in most cases, will require an accountant’s assistance.  The costs of an accountant can vary based on:  Generally, you can expect to pay your accountant anywhere between £500-£2000 per year.  These are broad estimates, and you may even have to pay more in certain circumstances.  Registered address UK limited companies require a registered address. If you have an office, then that address will suffice.  However, if you do not have an office, there are two options: Confirmation statement Limited companies are required to file a Confirmation Statement every year, which costs £13.  On many occasions, this fee will be covered by your accountant as part of their services. Company incorporation Depending on how you incorporate your company, there is an incorporation fee.  The cost can range from £10 to £40. Corporation tax This will depend on whether your UK limited company makes a profit.  Currently, the UK’s corporation tax rate is per below: 19% : for limited companies with profits between 0-£50,000  25%: for limited companies with profits above £250,000  For full information, please refer to the UK Government’s website. These are some of the general costs of running a UK limited company.  If you are planning to start a business in the UK and need help, get in touch with me to start your journey today. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats which I scaled to over 30 UK cities. I currently help other entrepreneurs and businesses of all size across several domains. For my credentials, please see here.

3 UK legislations that business owners should be aware of

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There are various UK legislations that business owners must comply with. The UK can be a fantastic place to start a business. However, it is imperative that you are aware of your legal obligations under applicable legislations as a business owner.  I have navigated the path of business ownership in one of its worst versions. I was an immigrant subjected to strict business visa terms, 22 years of age and a solo tech founder. So, I know how difficult the whole entrepreneurship can be for each individual. And in this journey, it’s easy to miss some important things.  So, in this article, I will highlight three UK legislations that every business owner must be aware of.  Data Protection & GDPR (Almost) every business retains and handles personal data. This may seem like one of those “complex corporate” things, it’s crucial to understand.  This is a legal area which is subject to misunderstanding, primarily in individual and small business owners. The issue with this part is that many business owners are unaware of.  Let me clarify this part with a small case study/example. If you use a website, whether through CMS platforms such as WordPress or Wix, or even code it from scratch, you are collecting user data.  In the UK, the key legislations that business owners must be aware of are: Data Protection Act 2018  General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Also, ensure that you follow the ICO’s guidelines for your obligations under GDPR.  Equality Act 2010 The Equality Act 2010 governs the implementation of non-discrimination and equality in the UK. This UK legislation is applicable to individuals in various contexts, including work.  As a business owner, it is important to firstly be aware of your own rights as an individual. It also governs your stakeholder management and how you conduct matters with each, such as customers and staff.  Intellectual Property (IP) Intellectual property will primarily concern trade marks and patents. While each of the aforementioned may be applicable to a business, the majority of businesses are concerned with trade marks.  Trade marks are applicable to every business as every business requires an identity, where name is the core element.  Thus, it is key to understand your branding rights and limitations. This will be attained via sufficient understanding of how trade marks work in the UK.  The relevant UK legislations on trade marks for business owners is the Trade Marks Act 1994.  Additionally, business owners may access resources provided by the Intellectual Property Office.  Patents, on the other hand, are concerned with respect to rights over an “invention” in the form of products and/or processes. In the UK, the legislation concerning business owners is the Patents Act 1977.  Are you a business owner and need consultancy on your operations? Book an initial consultation with me for a thorough evaluation………  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. As a solo founder, I grew my business to 30+ UK cities, with a global client base across 100+ countries. Following the Pandemic killing my precious work/business, I now transfer my knowledge to other entrepreneurs.

The amazing power of inbound marketing

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Inbound marketing is extremely underrated, especially when it comes to larger organizations. The reasoning behind this is clear: we live in an impatient business world, and inbound marketing is a long-term strategy. In this article, I wish to briefly highlight what inbound marketing is. I will then proceed to explain why it is not optional but essential to implement an appropriate inbound marketing strategy.  What is inbound marketing? So, to provide a full overview, I will define inbound marketing in two ways: Definition 1 | Formal & academic Inbound marketing refers to strategies and practices that discuss, evaluate and correlate with the audience needs, wants and psychological profile (yes, I came up with this myself and did not steal it from somewhere else). Definition 2 | Informal Inbound marketing is about creating content for your audience and reaching out to them without talking about what you sell.  The key factor is content creation. This can be in various forms such as SEO, email marketing, video creation, guest posts, research, webinars and so on. The purpose of content creation within an inbound marketing strategy is to resonate with your audience’s wants and needs.  The business world, sadly, is guilty of a key marketing flaw.  Inbound marketing is often compromised for outbound marketing and direct sales Arguably, the majority of companies often focus on direct marketing methods and generating full life-cycle leads themselves.  This article is not to devalue outbound marketing and direct contact methods. However, one goal of this piece is highlighting the current dynamics of the business/marketing world. In doing so, I wish to reflect on how inbound marketing can be leveraged as a primary strategy for each business.  We live in a hyper-competitive world  Have a new business idea? Somebody has already come up with it. Have a cool new brand name in mind? Somebody else has thought of it already. Launched a new business? There’s a good chance there is a comparative competitor. Already scaling? So is your competitor…… The above serves as a brief verbal demonstration of the global environment in which business is conducted.  We are living in the age of “innovation”. From a small business perspective. Everyone has access to the enhanced commercial technologies today, such as Shopify.  Therefore, everyone is now somehow self-legitimised to be known as a “businessperson” or a “CEO”. And sometimes, there’s no issue with that, everybody has to start somewhere.  The point of this is to show that it’s now somehow about “what” you sell, but “how” you sell it. Likewise, larger corporations also ought to be innovative in their marketing agendas. The issue with outbound marketing is that it is easily replicable and overly used by all stakeholders, from companies to other marketing stakeholders such as agencies. Innovation cannot be applied to “cold calling” per se. Unless you wish to sing people a song on the phone, which I would strongly advise against.  Inbound marketing is innovative In contrast, inbound marketing leaves a great amount of room for creativity.  One basic, and advanced, example is a website’s blog / SEO. You can use your blog for so much.  However, you would be impressed to see how far subject knowledge combined with SEO proficiency can get you.  Plus, this approach to marketing allows you to target your specific audience by using subject awareness and thought leadership. Generate loyal prospects Building on the last point and the early definition provided, inbound resonates with a consumer’s needs and mindset.  In the context of written content/SEO in an inbound campaign, it is the consumer who is seeking content on a particular subject. This particular subject also somehow pertains to the work of the company.  Let’s consider an example: my work as a business consultant working with skilled migrants.  I write blogs on issues such as business visa policies. I’m not an immigration lawyer, nor a government representative. However, these are subjects that my prospects / future clients are interested in, and frankly so am I in my own case.  This practice has not only attained clients, but also warm qualified leads, as well as prospects on social media such as LinkedIn followers.  Cost-efficient (but not time-efficient) Outbound marketing has the advantage of generating results in the short-term. However, those results come at a cost, such as time, staff, planning and more.  Outsourcing is accordingly a costly option too.  However, inbound marketing, mainly requires “subject knowledge”. Therefore, there is this added element of “skill” within this strategy. However, it can generally be done at a more cost-efficient arrangement.  And this principle applies to a range of stakeholders, from solo founders to large organizations. Nonetheless, developing successful inbound marketing campaigns and achieving results take time. It is important that entrepreneurs and companies adopt inbound marketing strategies with a thorough awareness of its long-term nature. Inbound marketing can be a game changer for your business. Need an expert’s opinion? Get in touch with me to discuss your inbound marketing plans! About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. As a solo founder, I grew my business to 30+ UK cities, with a global client base across 100+ countries. Following the Pandemic killing my precious work/business, I now transfer my knowledge to other entrepreneurs.

Business Immigration Services Breakdown | Working With Me

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Just over a year ago, I began providing business immigration services. It simply began as a side hustle and has now turned into my main business. The philosophy behind a business immigration consultancy was simple: I went through this journey myself.  As is the case with many businesses, at some point there is the need to adapt to expansion accordingly. My consultancy business was initially focused on business plan writing and consultations as a secondary service.  However, with growing demand and client base, my consultancy now covers every stage of the business planning process, from the idea stage to producing a viable business plan. Additionally, I now also offer services in relation to SEO, digital marketing and PR.  In this article, I will briefly outline the various stages of my business immigration services, and what clients may expect.  Stage 1: Initial Consultation | Cost: £50 The first stage of my business immigration services is an initial consultation, which can be booked here.  The purpose of this consultation is: Once we determine the aforestated, you can then decide which one of my business immigration services would be the most suitable for you.  If you decide to purchase any further services, the £50 fee of the initial consultation will be automatically deducted from your future purchase(s).  Stage 2: Service Discussion | Ongoing Calls Once you purchase any additional business immigration services, we will arrange a second call to explore how we can begin working together and set up a timeframe.  Currently, my business immigration services cover the following areas: Stage 3: Delivery  Once we set the timeframes and your project needs in stages 1 and 2, the final stage will be the project delivery.  The timeframe for this stage is subjective and depends on the services purchased. For instance, a business plan will take longer than a review of your business idea.  Need business immigration services? Then please get in touch with me today to find out how I can help you with your business immigration needs. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs and all founders with their businesses, including their business plans.

5 elements of a good business plan

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Writing a good business plan can be a challenging task. In essence, business planning is the first major challenge an entrepreneur faces as it is a blueprint of their venture. In this article, I will outline 5 elements that make a good business plan. This is based on my own experience as a tech founder, consultant and writer.  Writing a good business plan goes beyond proposing a viable business proposition. It entails clear articulation, milestones, well-written content and a thorough blueprint of how your business will succeed.  There are plenty of articles that will refer to the basic and compulsory parts of a business plan such as SWOT analysis and regard them as factors contributing to a good business plan.  However, my aim in this article is to provide you with the correct mindset and approach to: With the aforementioned in mind, let’s highlight the 5 key elements of a good business plan. Inclusion of the key standard sections  Okay, so let’s briefly highlight an obvious part, which many entrepreneurs surprisingly fall short of.  Regardless of the purpose of your business plan and where you are, several key sections must be included in every business plan. These key sections are: Clear & realistic business vision Entrepreneurship and starting a business require vision. And it is fantastic to set high goals. Nevertheless, this is where many entrepreneurs make a mistake. And the mistake is that they “fly too high” and set goals and visions that are essentially unrealistic.  Your vision and anticipated goals should be realistic and based on market trends supported by research.  Clear business milestones  The ideal business plan is not a fancy document to impress your investors or other parties. It is the blueprint of your business as a commercial entity.  And what does a blueprint entail? Clear procedural steps with timelines and outcomes.  Moreover, this is not just related to one part of the business plan, for example, product development.  Each aspect of the business (plan) should be subjected to prior anticipation with clear input/output estimations, whether it is product, marketing, sales or anything else.  Objective market research and avoiding the “founder bias” As stated earlier, I will not highlight standard business plan sections.  However, this part is crucial and you notice that I have used the word “objective”. You may have a business proposal that does respond to a genuine market need. However, this is where what I call the “founder bias” kicks in.  The “founder bias” is when a founder only states market research that supports the notion that there is a need for their product and/or service. This eliminates the “objectivity” aspect.  Your plan must be supported by objective market research, and this is why a business consultant like me is useful.  By highlighting all the facets of the market, you demonstrate enhanced commercial awareness. Plus, it enables you to anticipate and prepare for unexpected market shifts and how to respond accordingly.  Money, money, money (the financials) Regardless of the type of project, the primary goal of a venture is making money. Even if you are starting a non-profit/charity, your finances matter the most.  This is one of the most neglected aspects of many business plans. You must anticipate and account for cash inflows and outflows of your business.  And I get it: this is perhaps among the most difficult aspects, and hence why it is often neglected. However, without a financial analysis that is subject to scrutiny, you are almost always doomed for failure. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs and all founders with their businesses, including their business plans.

Innovator Founder Visa | Policy Analysis

Just over a month ago, I created a YouTube video exploring the policy flaws of the UK’s Innovator Founder visa. This article is essentially a reflection of the same video, highlighting three fundamental policy flaws surrounding the Innovator Founder visa requirements.  *Please note that this content is merely a reflection of my personal opinion and evaluation and does not constitute immigration advice in any shape or form. If you are seeking immigration advice, please refer to OISC to find a registered immigration advisor/solicitor.* According to the UK Government’s website, the Innovator Founder visa allows international entrepreneurs to set up businesses in the UK. Full details of the visa rules can be found HERE.  The purpose of this article, however, is not to outline the general information about this visa. I have written this blog post to: –Highlight the flaws that other founders may resonate with; –To draw the attention of policymakers towards the anticipated flaws of the Innovator Founder visa and how it may potentially harm the UK in the short and long term So, let’s explore the flaws of the Innovator Founder visa policy. The low number of Innovator Founder visa endorsing bodies  This is perhaps the major weakness of the Innovator Founder visa policy.  This is especially the case when one takes a comparative evaluation between this visa path and its predecessor, the Innovator visa.  There are currently 3 endorsing bodies overseeing all applications made under the Innovator Founder visa pathway. This excludes the Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP) which is administered by the Department for Business and Trade. The aforementioned is in contrast to over 20 endorsing bodies that had the authority to issue endorsements for the former Innovator visa. Moreover, the previous endorsing bodies included well-established and reputable accelerators such as Founders Factory. To summarise the key issues in relation to the number of endorsing bodies: High endorsement & visa fees  Another major issue which may discourage many prospective applicants is the high visa fees associated with this visa pathway.  Let’s look at the initial costs associated with the Innovator Founder visa (and these are for single applicants only): As you see, you are paying a minimum of £3000 to simply make an application under this visa pathway.  By setting such high fees, the UK Government has failed to consider the long-term economic contribution of international entrepreneurs to the UK.  Not applicable to all The Innovator Founder visa is likely to not be applicable to every single founder. And the manner in which this is evident is through the three key business idea requirements, which are: Whilst on the surface, the abovestated factors may seem appropriate, they are not practical in action.  For instance, the viability requirement may only be evident once a business actually begins trading. Yet, this visa is also aimed at entrepreneurs who wish to “set up” their business in the UK. Another instance where the lack of applicability of this visa path is reflected is the removal of the former Startup and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visas. These visa routes were specifically aimed at founders who were to set up their business in the UK. Personally, I underwent the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route myself under the endorsement of Newcastle University.  Currently, the Innovator Founder visa is a mashup of all founders, from all backgrounds and regardless of their business nature/stage.  Final notes  Entrepreneurship is fundamentally unpredictable and involves a core element of risk. Combining this with stringent and unfeasible immigration requirements does not provide an optimal outcome for any stakeholder. Moreover, it will only serve to weaken the UK’s global position as an entrepreneurial hub.  I appreciate that policymakers ought to ensure that genuine and innovative migrants move to the UK. Nevertheless, policies should be drafted in such a manner that involves a thorough comprehension of entrepreneurship and also mitigates the risk between the government and international entrepreneurs.  Need help with the Innovator Founder visa? I am the UK’s #1 & leading business consultant for international entrepreneurs. Whilst I do not provide immigration advice, I am able to assist in multiple areas such as drafting your Innovator Founder visa business plan.  For a full overview of my services, please refer to my homepage here.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (similar to the current Start-Up Visa). Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

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