BE A BUSINESS OWNER YOU’D BE PROUD OF

by Paula on October 22, 2013

I’ve always been a strong believer in two things:-

  • There is no such thing as the perfect job, relationship, house, child, life…those that are happy are the ones who are able to see the good in the situation they are in.
  • If a job, relationship, house, child, life is making you miserable more than 50% of the time – work on improving it. If you have and it’s no better – change it.

It is with this in mind that I find great energy in the people I meet who have recognised that something in their life needs changing and are on the path towards making positive change.

Recently a number of people I know have started on the adventure that is setting up their own business. I have lived and breathed business change / growth / decline over the last 25 years and as such am happy to answer questions and support where I can. This blog hopes to outline the key areas that are important in the early days of starting a business and I hope you find them food for thought.

DO PEOPLE NEED IT?

It’s pretty galling if you’ve reached the stage of quitting a job, designing a website, investing money and someone questions whether or not it’s actually a business at all! But, far better to make this recognition at the time of being able to change or quit than years down the line when the detriment is greater. Identify who you plan to sell to. Research what they want, where they buy, how they buy and what they can afford. Ensure you don’t let your dream of the product or service sway you from the fact. When it comes to sales, if you have what people need then half the work is done. Convincing people they want what you have will always be an uphill struggle.

I have had the pleasure recently of a short session with three individuals who are starting on their business journey. They are full of excitement and enthusiasm for the service they will be offering. They are convinced that there is a “huge need” for their business. What there is, however, is a huge supply of the service offering and no identifiable need for this service from the targeted client.  It is equivalent to me buying 1000’s of widgets and believing I have a viable business because I have lots! Their business is actually a sales job – going out there and convincing people that they have a need for the service they offer – it will be a challenge.

 WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS TO BE?

The old “Where do you want to be in 5 years time?” is a cliche but a business can take many forms. There are those who envision premises, & a growing team of people. Then there are those who want to grow something to sell and then start all over again. There are also those (like me) who are actually very happy working freelance and are “in business” to be able to achieve working hours not offered in the world of employment.

A local friend is in the early days of his new business and has taken all the first steps to get a website, bank account, name, logo etc set up. It’s now at the “Ok what do I do next?” stage. Sometimes that stage needs to come first. 3 years ago when I started working for myself I was told to get a name that “does what it says on the tin”. At the time my main area of work was providing strategy and training to businesses for their social media. I called myself “White Social Media” – it’s my name and it’s what I do! But fast forward a year and while I was (and am) still offering this service by request, my main work is project and people management and as such my name was no longer appropriate. Changing it down the line is not ideal, so having that clear direction in mind from the start allows you to get the details correct.

BREAK IT DOWN

You are now a business owner. The one with a great idea, that you know clients want and with a strong vision of where you want to be. Now you need a plan. What are the big steps between now and that vision? What does that mean you need to do this year? This month? This week? Today? Each month and week you need to evaluate what happened. What did you achieve from your plan? If not what you expected, then why? On a daily basis you should just be focusing on the To Do list for that day. If you let the bigger plan overwhelm you, you won’t make the small steps. It is those small steps that will find you where you want to be in 5 years. Don’t get distracted or fearful by the perceived enormity of what you’ve decided to achieve.

TAKE ADVICE

To have the guts and confidence to set up a business mean overcoming self-doubt and ignoring the fear. This can also mean you are the type of person who would struggle to say “I don’t know it all, I need help”. That’s hard to do! Some see it as a weakness. Not me. The most successful people in business are those who can look at all the things that need doing (or maybe even accept they need help in making that plan), identify what they are good at and what they like, and identify the areas where they are weaker. Weak can mean not knowing how to tackle something or it can mean something you hate doing and therefore you know you will continually procrastinate over!

Help does cost money and in the early days finances are tight. There are people out there with great advice to share who write books or blogs. If you can’t afford them, take this route to their advice. Or maybe the time you would save on an investment in quality help will mean you can free up time to focus on the bits you do best and reach a stage of receiving profits faster. Don’t struggle – struggle takes time and can be the thing that kills your motivation to achieve your goal. Take advice.

BE FLEXIBLE

And finally, when you have that plan, that vision and that clear path. Remember to evaluate! The reason why we have a 5 year plan with goals at each year, and then detail on what we’re going to go on the first year is because by year 4 things will be different! Our lives will have changed, the economy will have changed, people’s buying patterns will have changed and we will have 4 years experience to base our plan on rather than some research and guessing. Don’t waste this incredible knowledge you will have built and don’t stick your head in the sand and plough on with your original goals when all around you your competitors are adapting to changing needs. Be flexible, have a plan, and be open to that plan changing.

I hope some of this is useful. If you have any general  questions or I can help with any of these stages in your business, do get in touch. I’ll always help where I can.

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