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 email@example.com and if there is anything you can share with our member to help them on their business journey, please get in touch to discuss.
The benefits of business collaboration far outweigh working alone. Collaboration is a bit like setting off in a canoe, to your favourite camping spot twenty miles down the river. Then realising it would take you half the time if you had someone paddling with you!
One of the things I’ve learnt running a business group that’s aimed at helping people make great connections, learn new skills and grow their business is the importance of collaboration.
Collaboration is a very potent way for small business owners to help grow their business and make some great connections. It helps take your business to the next level and is well worth the time and effort.
So here are the benefits of business collaboration that I have observed.
1. Collaboration Can Help You Solve Problems.
I’m sure you have heard the old saying ‘two heads are better than one?’ If you think about it, how often when you’ve been working alone on a project and you suddenly find yourself stuck and don’t know what to do? What have you done, you’ve gone to someone to ask for help, right? That might be a trusted partner, mentor, or even a friend that you can use just as a sounding board to help you work through the issue.
Collaborating and having someone (or several people) working with you can take away the stress and anxiety of solving everything yourself. Plus when you start down this route it can spark other ideas on things you hadn’t even thought about, opening up other opportunities for you and your business!
2. Collaboration Can Be Educational
This can be of huge benefit to you and your business, the opportunity to learn new things. Just by the simple act of connecting with other people how often have you found out about some valuable information on a subject or topic that’s been really useful?
I’ve witnessed an example of a great collaboration at our In Business group. This is between two professionals with very different skills sets, perspectives and strengths. One from an HR background and the other specialising in business strategy.
By working together they have put together a course aimed at businesses developing a strategic business plan and a people plan. By working together and collaborating they have learned from each other as well as being able to pass on valuable advice to other businesses.
3. Collaboration Can Halve Your Risk and Save You Money
Lots of businesses collaborate because it’s a great way to halve your risk and save you money at the same time. Collaborating with another business can help you reduce your costs on things like marketing and business development. If you are undertaking a large expensive project with significant financial risk, what better way to help reduce that risk than by collaborating with another business or partner. Sharing resources, ideas and expertise has got to be one of the great advantages of collaboration.
For your business to be successful, one of the most important things is to continually meet new people. To be successful you need to build a list of contacts and colleagues, making connections and forming alliances. Think about what would happen to your business, how it would start to go quickly down hill if you only sold to the same people. With every connection or contact you make you are expanding your network. Of course this may not result in a collaboration every time but imagine the possibilities and where it might lead.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more. Also check out our meetings page and come along to an event where you can start making connections and who knows, some great collaborations
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 email@example.com if you’d like to know more.
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.
People have many reasons for becoming Self Employed and it’s not always fuelled by a passion to turn a hobby into a money-making venture.
For some it is sheer inspiration, an epiphany, or even a ‘that’s a great idea’ moment. For others it is born out of desperation to earn a living after a life changing event that prevents them continuing with their regular job.
To some extent that’s how it was for me. Although I was in employment, on maternity leave at the time but, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to return to work after the statutory maternity leave.
My daughter was born with severe special needs and as such my days would be filled with hospital appointments and physio sessions. It came as a huge shock to both myself and my husband at the time, even though I didn’t have the best paid job in the world, I did contribute to the household income in some significant way. Mortgage rates were pretty high 10.5% if I remember correctly and the thought of renting property back then was not really an option we wanted to consider.
I had qualifications in the catering and baking industry and started making birthday cakes for friends and family. It was a slow burner but it helped to pay the bills. It wasn’t until my daughter was in slightly better health and of school age that thing took off a little more. Although there were days when she was poorly and couldn’t attend school, I was able to make up the time in an evening. I also had a son who was fit and healthy and I was able to carry on the business during pregnancy and beyond. The business went from strength to strength and I eventually got the opportunity to open a shop. Turnover increased 3-fold that first year and the buzz I got from that made it all worthwhile.
Now I’m not saying that being your own boss doesn’t come at a cost, check out the pros and cons here. There are the early morning deliveries, the cantankerous customers, the strain on family life, the bills to pay and the books to balance, there are also the constant stream of emails to answer and the vain attempt on my part to keep up with the latest social media posts! But what I am saying is that there is a very rewarding sense of achievement and satisfaction when you do balance those books, when customers are delighted with your product or service and when you look at what you have accomplished at the end of the day and say ‘yes, I did that!’
So, what started as a life changer for me definitely turned out to be a chapter in my life that I wouldn’t change!