Starting your own business is like your first day at ‘Big School’…you’ve got the basics nailed, but now you need to know a whole lot more on a variety of different subjects to progress and pass your exams!
So, you’ve been with your company for a good number of years, you’re happy, you know your job and you’re good at it. Then something changes in your life. A change in circumstances, redundancy, you’ve had a great idea, or you just feel you’d like to do something different and start your own business. You’ll be in control of your own destiny, and be your own boss.
But it quickly dawns on you that although you’re good at your job, your knowledge of what you need to do to run a business falls far short.
Things to think about when you’re starting your business
Some things I wish I’d thought more about (or known about) when I started my business were things like: What’s my business strategy? Do I have the right skills to start my business? Do I know how to self-motivate, manage my time efficiently and develop those all-important interpersonal skills?
Also, what was my “why” for starting in the first place? The “why” is so important, as once you know this, you’ll know what it is you want to do and how you’ll do it. Two excellent books to read are ‘Start with Why’ and ‘Find Your Why’ by Simon Sinek. Spend some time thinking about this, and be honest with yourself. Simon’s books are a great way to help you discover your why.
Marketing your business
When I first started, I didn’t have a proper plan or strategy, particularly for marketing. Because of this, I wasted a lot of valuable time. I didn’t know my target market; I wasn’t sure who they were or what they wanted.
Your marketing is one of the most important things to get right. How are you going to take your product or service to market? How are you going to find your customers? Who’s your target market? Have you researched your competitors? Speak to people who will use your product or service and get some feedback. Find out, is what you are offering what people want? If no one else is doing it or offering it, is there a good reason?
Thinking about your business cash flow
This was probably one of the most difficult aspects I found in starting my own business. When you’re employed everything is magically taken care of for you and a nice salary drops into your bank account at the end of every month. That doesn’t happen when you run your own business!
Managing your money is so important (so is a good accountant); cash flow problems can be a nightmare. It’s essential that you keep on top of your invoicing and track your finances coming into and out of your business. Try and forecast as accurately as you can how much you will sell and how much you will spend. Have a bit of a cash reserve that covers you for up to two or three months if things get a bit tight if you can.
Have you heard of the 50-20-30 rule as a basic way of budgeting? This tends to be generally for personal savings, but it can be equally applied to your business. Say for example 50% on essential expenses, 30% building your business through expansion or new equipment (or maybe personal development) and 20% on your future, developing new products or services and any other financial goals etc.
Starting and running your own business can be a challenge. It’s not easy when you first start and there is so much to learn. But, it can also be extremely rewarding, opening you up to new opportunities in both business and in your personal life. Just be aware of the things I’ve touched upon (there are lots more things too!) and plan accordingly. The most important thing is don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. You don’t have to feel alone or isolated. As my title suggests, we’ve all been there!
At In Business we offer all our members some of the best support and help possible, have you checked out our website?
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.
So why is Networking such a key part of your business strategy?
Networking has always been very popular with business owners and entrepreneurs alike. For decades business men and women have frequented the lounges of the world’s hotels and coffee shops and mingled to their hearts content.
If you have never been to an In Business networking event before, or never been to any networking session for that matter you may be wondering why networking should be considered a key part of your business strategy. Well, in this short article, allow us to share with you our top three reasons why networking should be your top priority.
And who knows; maybe we will see you at In Business very soon…
You and I both know; the number one reason people network is to find people who could one day become your customer. It is vital to not push the boundaries or to ‘pester’ others though, so no hard sell. Take your time, nurture relationships and follow up with patience.
Research and Development
In business, things can be very lonely at times. Especially if you are a sole trader, or the owner of a small business. Networking allows you to stay up-to date with the latest industry news and stay on top of all the things you need to know. Plus, it stops you going stir-crazy and talking to yourself.
At In Business, there is a wide variety of people from different business sectors and backgrounds with various skills, often happy to share their knowledge, experience and give general advice. This knowledge and these connections can prove invaluable if you are looking to grow and develop your business, also helping to build long term business relationships.
It is who you know, not what you know, after all.
NETWORKING…do you look forward to events or do they make you feel anxious, uncomfortable, apprehensive and nervous?
How many of us are born networkers? I know I wasn’t, even in social situations I always found myself feeling awkward, unless of course the people I was with were actually friends or people I knew.
I was envious of other people who seemed to be more at ease, looked as though they were enjoying themselves and appeared really comfortable moving from person to person or moved from small group to small group introducing themselves. I didn’t feel I was particularly shy, but I’m sure it must be incredibly difficult if you are.
However, this all changed for me at least 15 years ago, when I had to venture for the first time into business networking! Thrown in at the deep end, starting my own business and having to become my own business developer!
I realised business networking is all about making and developing good relationships and simply having a conversation to help build a successful business. Yes, to do this you have to acquire and learn certain skills, it’s not about running around a room full of people ‘thrusting’ your business card into the hands of everyone you meet. It’s about getting to know the other person, it’s about sharing information and relationship building and this requires the right tools, approach and importantly frame of mind, mindset.
I’d be interested to know how you view networking? Do you find it daunting, does it make you uncomfortable entering a room full of strangers? Or are you a born socialiser/networker and never feel any apprehension or self-consciousness about walking into a room full of strangers?
7 Awesome Things You Can Learn from Studying Business Networking!
Do you, like me, love networking? Over the years I have met lots of interesting people and had numerous pleasant conversations. Looking back, I suppose I’ve learnt some very interesting things by being involved and I’d say in studying business networking.
What do I mean by studying business networking? Well, giving thought to how people communicate and interact with each other in a networking environment. What skills you develop, the body language aspects and what ideas it might bring, it’s not only fun and interesting it can give you lots of valuable life lessons too.
Below is my take on the lessons I have learnt during my time business networking.
‘Never judge a book by its cover’ – oh, how true this old saying is and in my early days of networking on a number of occasions I did exactly this, much to my embarrassment and shame. I’m sure you have done it too, we all do at some point. Met someone and perhaps thought I’m not keen on this person, for whatever reason or not really worth me talking to etc. I’m sure on numerous occasions I have made the wrong assumption about someone, rather than the right one. Okay, maybe on occasions I was right, but not in the majority of cases.
Lesson to be learnt, all it takes is to ignore your first impression, keep an open mind and have a conversation.
‘You never get a second chance to create a first impression’ – Again, what another great saying and again so much truth in it don’t you think? Do you create the right impression? It’s all about how you present yourself to the world, and not just how you look or dress, (which of course is important and goes a long way towards creating a good impression!) but maybe more the manner in which you present yourself, or how you want to ‘come across’ to people. If you are a negative person, then usually that’s how you will be perceived and how they will see or think of you. The flip side is, if you are positive person, then the likelihood is that you will be seen as a positive person.
Lesson to be learnt, create the right impression in the way you look and how you present yourself to the world, have a positive outlook on life.
‘Communication must be HOT – That’s Honest, Open and Two-way’ (Dan Oswald)…
I like this saying and I believe good communication is an art and it takes practise to do it properly. Communication skills have got to be one of the biggest factors in succeeding in both business and life. I think to a degree the art of communication like most things can be learnt. If you think how amazing is it that we have language, where we can share ideas, create wonderous things, tell stories etc. Then isn’t it worth trying to do it to the best of your ability. So, in all your communications make sure you are honest, true to yourself, keep your word and be open and remember it’s definitely a two-way process. Which means of course spend more time listening when in a conversation than speaking. Always show interest in what the other person has to say. It’s not just the words that we speak though, it’s also our body language. The eye contact we make, our gestures, our smile, how we walk, posture and the tone of our voice etc. Think about helping others achieve their goals, think about what you can do for them. As the old saying goes ‘what goes around, comes around’. In fact, this is probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt through networking.
Lesson learnt, give people your undivided attention, smile, and when in a conversation spend more time listening than speaking, offer to help them in some way if you can. You will be amazed at the excellent conversations you will have, friends you will make and information and knowledge you will acquire.
Managing your time
Why managing your time and what lessons can be learnt by networking? Well it’s simple basically all you need to do is make sure that you’re not continually running from one networking event to the other. Use your time wisely by planning which events you will attend, when you will attend them and work out if they are going to be of value to you in some way. We can all be ‘busy fools’ going from one thing to another. Know who you are going to speak to by thinking about who might be a referral partner, client or supplier who could benefit you in your business. Apparently, on average you have only around 27,375 days to live. If you calculate your age and multiply by 365 and then subtract 27,375, this gives you an indication of many days you have left! Do the math, it’s quite sobering!
Lesson learnt, prioritise your time, know your goals in life – make sure you keep sight of the important things in life – Don’t waste your days!
This is so important! In fact, it is extremely important! Why important? I realised quite early on in my pursuit of meeting people at different business networking events I had no objectives, no goals. What did this mean? At most events I attended I wasted my time, I didn’t know who I wanted to speak to, who might be a good referral partner, how many people I wanted to meet, why I wanted to meet etc. I’m sure like most people you’ve heard of the set yourself ‘SMART’ goals, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound? This works extremely well for business networking events. Know the kind/type of person, business your looking to connect with, set yourself a target of the number of people, decide if its realistic (don’t try and shove your business card under as many noses as possible!). Can you achieve it? Does the number of people at the event enable you to achieve it, are you being realistic? Finally, timebound, make sure you set a time when you will follow up with people you have met at the event. Ideally the day after the event while it is still fresh in their minds of where they met you when you follow up.
Lesson learnt, if you don’t set goals in your life, then you have no direction. You need a start point and an end point. Set goals for everything you want to achieve, know where you are going in life!
Now I hear you ask why would you include team working in business networking? Simple, if you are part of a good networking group, a group of people who meet on a regular basis, you get to know, like and trust them. These people will work with you to help you meet potential new clients, maybe help you identify opportunities you hadn’t thought of yourself or give you advice or information that will benefit you or your business. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have helped someone and you become a team, working together looking out for each other. If you think about it, being part of something like this means you communicate well, you trust each other and you show commitment. Within a networking group you have diversity, lots of different skills and lots of different capabilities. All of which goes together to make a great team of people, with a common purpose, just to help and support each other.
Lesson learnt, good teams are based on communication, willingness to help and support each other, commitment and diversity of skills all working to a common goal or objective.
Another really useful skill to have for both business and life. Over my many years and lots of time spent at various networking events, I’ve found that being able to present one’s self and your business is vital. Being able to present information clearly and effectively is important in getting your message or opinion across, especially today, these skills are required in almost every field and walk of life. When you are involved in business networking it’s a given that you get your message about you or your business across as succinctly as possible. For example, I am a member of a BNI (Business Networking International) group (which by the way I think is brilliant!) and as part of what you have to do at a meeting is present yourself and your business in sixty seconds. Its, more commonly known as an elevator pitch. This really makes you think carefully about what you want to say within those sixty seconds. You also get the chance every so often to present to the group for ten minutes. Of course, the first few times you do this, it is extremely nerve racking and if you’re not used to it, it takes you completely out of your comfort Zone. A great thing about both the sixty second and the ten-minute presentation is that it helps to improve your confidence when speaking to a large audience and the networking gives you confidence when speaking to individuals. It also teaches you to prepare, plan and organise so that you can present in the best possible way. An excellent way to get your message across is of course to tell stories. People love a story, it keeps you engaged, entertained and makes the message memorable!
Its important to be able to present yourself or your business. In both business and life on occasion you will be called upon to make a presentation of some sort. Show passion about your subject or topic, make eye contact, smile (very important), plan but most importantly tell stories. As human beings we are programmed to respond to good stories!
We have moved!
The 10th July saw the dawn of the meetings at our new venue, Pure Offices, Morley. It was great to welcome our new members and we appreciate your support.
Going forward we are very optimistic that the new venue will prove a great opportunity to bring businesses together in a professional and corporate environment.
We know we can’t compete with the breakfasts at our previous venue, The Toby Carvery, so no Yorkshire puddings I’m afraid, but we hope you like the addition of the ‘healthier option’ as well as the bacon sandwiches. The Linda McCartney sausages went down a treat so we will be upping the order for those next time! Whilst we are on the subject we must thank The Toby Carvery for their help and support in getting In Business off the ground, we will miss the Yorkies.
We think that you will agree that breakfast in the break-out area gave a good opportunity to network in a relaxed and informal manner. We are aiming for a ‘no pressure’ style of networking, where we can work as a team to help and support each other. Although there is no pressure to bring a referral or a visitor, it is in everyone’s interests and we welcome and encourage you to do so. So, if you know of any other small business owners who In Business might be useful to, please bring them along. With Carla’s help, we will encourage others from the building to come along too.
We want you to get value from the membership not only through the connections you make but from the education. If there is a subject that you think would be of benefit to the group please make us aware, we want to offer the most relevant training we can. We have several members joined up now and we are looking to increase that number substantially over the next couple of months.
This has been ‘our’ members spotlight but in future it will be a chance for members to promote their business, tell us about the launch of a new product or service or just generally share their good news!
‘Til next time…….on 24th July at 9.30am
Would you consider cold calling a thing of the past?
Is cold calling a thing of the past?
Often it ends in rejection, and none of us like that do we?
Just when you think you are being put through to the person you want to speak to it goes to voicemail and you leave a hopeful, cheery message asking them to return your call, only to no avail. Or you state you will ring back later and again it’s goes back into the loop of ‘sorry he can’t take your call/she’s out of the office’ and you get put through to the voicemail. Frustrating isn’t it?
Only a very small percentage of cold calls ultimately convert into appointments so why are we wasting our time? According to research by the Keller Research Center at Baylor University “9 out of 10 top level B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold calling anymore”. Sales reps tend to only make 2 calls to reach a prospective client when, in fact, it takes more than 7 touches to generate a lead. By touches it means things like connecting on LinkedIn, liking and sharing their prospects posts or meeting someone at an event.
Keller RC also say that “84% of B2B sales start the buying journey with a referral” and “3 out of 4 people say they prefer to do business with someone who has been referred by a person they know”.
So, to avoid these scenarios what can we do?
The answer isn’t, as you might think, to go on lengthy sales training courses that promises you will convert more calls into sales, or to brush up on your sales technique.
The answer is in networking, why?
You get to meet like-minded business people who all want to build their network of advocates. Your advocates will then grow to trust you and your brand and have faith that if they refer you, you will do a good job. It’s not always what you know but who you know and that seems to be more prevalent these days. It doesn’t mean what it used to with ‘back-handers’ being given left, right and centre! These people will genuinely want to pass business on to you because they believe in you. People buy from people and if they get to know you, they will recommend you.
Each person at a networking event will have hundreds of contacts that they can introduce you to therefore opening up your opportunity to connect and do business with them too. It just makes sense to network!
Why not give it a go, it’s not as scary as you think. After all, you are just having a conversation with someone and that’s something we do every day! Here at In Business we like to think we have a more relaxed way of doing networking and if you want more hints and tips just visit our blog on the 7 networking fears most of us experience.
Look forward to meeting you at our next event. Check out the dates.
Having recently attended a very informative presentation on recruitment by Mark Gill of Headway Recruitment, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on this subject.
Hiring and firing is a very powerful position to be in, just look at Alan Sugar! And as they say ‘with great power comes great responsibility'(Voltaire).
If you hire a great candidate, the benefit to your company will be immense whereas hiring the wrong candidate can cost you dearly.
Ok, let me explain……..
The right person for the job, depends on a lot of things such as, suitability for the role, qualifications, experience, commitment, attitude. Even their reason for wanting the job can be an influence as to whether you take them on or not.
For example, on paper a candidate might have all the qualifications you are looking for, but during the interview process it could become apparent that their attitude to work or the reason they applied for the job may not be what you expected.
If you are looking for someone to be part of a team, it is your responsibility to consider the other members of that team and whether the new employee will fit in. Sounds obvious, but if the new team member isn’t a good fit then the original team members might feel intimidated, inadequate, aggrieved, over-looked. Thus putting them on the defensive, struggling to meet targets and generally ‘not wanting to play ball’. This could potentially affect productivity, staff morale, staff turnover, company reputation, amongst other things and this will cost you money in the long run.
You will probably be looking forever to find ‘the perfect candidate’. But hiring the best person you can get will reap huge rewards in the long run. It will also save you having the ‘you’re fired’ conversation too!
Psychometric profiling is a great way to find that piece of the jigsaw to fit perfectly into your team.
This system analyses a combination of aptitude and personality tests that measure job-relevant cognitive abilities and personality. In other words, potential employers can assess your ability through a series of questions and tests. This helps to identify your personality traits.
There are 4 main types of personality, dominance, influencer, conscientious and steadiness. All of which have their own different traits. You can be a combination of two types and generally a good team consists of a mixture of all four.
Some recruitment agencies use this technique to find you the right person for the job and the guys at Headway Recruitment in Leeds and Bradford have over 35 years of recruitment expertise to help guide you through the process of hiring your next employee. So, if you are looking to recruit, give them a call.
Personally, I think the dynamics of a team are crucial to your business, what do you think?