Here are 4 things I didn’t learn from being in business.
When you first start out in business, it’s exciting. It’s also a bit nerve-wracking but you’re happy when getting your first clients or customers to sign up or buy your product. It’s not until you get ‘settled in’ and get further along your journey, that you begin to realise that some of the work you do doesn’t make you much money – but, hey, you are still making money and that’s the point of going into business surely? See our previous blog about starting your own business.
I didn’t learn to say NO!
If someone said to you, ‘stop doing the little jobs that don’t make you much money,’ you would probably be horrified at the thought of turning down business right? But sometimes that’s just what you have to do to make any money. Sounds a bit bizarre, but by working out the products or services that make you the most money for the least effort and time, you will then start to home in on the type of clients you should be working with.
Of course, it’s not always that simple and you might find you enjoy doing some of the smaller, less profitable jobs, but if you really want to make some decent money then you must say ‘no’ to at least some of those things. Which then leads me on to the second thing I didn’t learn…
I didn’t learn how to niche my business and target a particular audience
Think about those jobs/clients that bring in the most revenue for minimum effort and that you enjoy most. That should be your target audience. Learn to speak directly to them. Solve their problems, showcase the products they are looking for, understand their needs and keep in touch with them. Talking to people about the things they want or need is crucial to building a relationship with them so that when they are ready to buy, you are the person that they go to.
I didn’t learn to slow down and take time out
Lastly, I thought I was there to provide a service, and to some extent I was but I didn’t set parameters. I delivered at all hours, evenings and weekends; I was answering emails late into the evenings too!
Let people know your opening and closing time, your delivery options and your terms and conditions. Your customers will email at a time to suit them, that doesn’t mean you have to reply if it doesn’t suit you. Put a polite automatic response on your emails saying you will answer their query between the hours of X and Y, thank them for their patience and respond between X and Y. Don’t be open all hours, don’t answer emails at every hour of the day or night, make it clear what’s involved.
I didn’t learn to stand firm on my pricing policy
Make your pricing clear, what’s included and what’s not and stick to your prices, don’t be bartered down. If you discount your prices once, this customer will expect the same discount or reduction the next time and the time after that. It’s a downward spiral.
In other words, don’t let your business run you. Run your business in a way that makes you money but without running you into the ground. Take time out, you know what they say about ‘all work and no play’. People create businesses for a number of reasons, such as being made redundant, wanting a better life, knowing you can do it better on your own or just wanting to be in control. Don’t let IT be in control otherwise you’ve just bought yourself a job! I hope the 4 things I didn’t learn from being in business will help you on your business journey. Please feel free to contact me and let me know what you have learnt from being in business on firstname.lastname@example.org and if there is anything you can share with our member to help them on their business journey, please get in touch to discuss.
Running your own business is like passing your driving test; one minute you’ve got someone sat with you advising, guiding and offering support and the next you’re let loose on the road, completely alone and making all the decisions.
So, be prepared for working alone. Self-employment and starting up your business can be a very lonely place once the initial excitement has worn off. When you suddenly find yourself sat at your desk (in the back bedroom that you’ve converted into an office) waiting for the telephone to ring with your nice shiny laptop at the ready. It’s then you notice the lack of interaction, you’re alone, apart from speaking to any clients or suppliers you may have. There were times when I went many hours without speaking to anyone at all. Below are just three of the things that I believe helped me during those initial lonely times.
How to avoid feeling isolated when working alone
Get yourself into a routine
It took me a while to realise this one, but basically all you need to do is get yourself into some sort of a routine, just like you did when you worked for someone else. I know; the thought of getting up and then sitting around all day in your dressing gown can be appealing, but the novelty quickly wears off and I found I wasn’t very productive. So, get yourself up, have your breakfast and start work at the same time every day. Break for lunch and finish at the time you would normally. Sounds simple, or obvious, but it really does help.
Access a business support group
This is by far one of the best things you can ever do to avoid the isolation of working alone. Get yourself out there and meet lots of other like-minded business people who are in exactly the same boat as you. I joined one and it’s safe to say I think it actually changed my life! I met so many nice people, willing to help, offer advice, support and as a bonus refer me to potential clients. Creating this support network really helped me; no longer did I feel isolated and alone. I would meet these people on a regular basis and many became good friends.
You don’t have to join your local gym (although of course you could if you like) – simply get yourself out for a walk in your lunch break. That’s all I did; it gave me some valuable thinking time, got me away from my desk and definitely helped me feel refreshed for the rest of the day. Do yourself a favour, give yourself some thinking time, enjoy the fresh air and the
simple pleasure of just having a walk.
Running a business can be a great adventure, but it’s important you don’t neglect your own wellbeing and health. Being alone and feeling isolated isn’t good for you or your business. If it does start to feel like it’s becoming too much, talk about it. Either to your partner, friend, relative or maybe a trusted networking associate.