This article was supposed to be about 10 things you should know about starting a business. As I am also starting out with 15 months of running my own business; I thought to write this article about 10 things you’re not told about starting a business.
Do you have a business or a job?
Firstly, you need to ask yourself if you have a business or do you have a job? For myself, it’s a job for now, I have managed to create a job for myself. Why? Because if I take myself out of this job my business will not last 4 months without me, perhaps less. Can your business survive without you for a year? If you answered yes, then in my option you have a business. The key is to have a system in place, and that takes a while.
There is no formula for success
For years, I have read entrepreneur books and books on starting a business hoping that I would find a chapter or ten that starts “So Karen, this is what you need to do….”
And of cause there was never a chapter like that because no matter how great the formula, there is one thing that you cannot factor, which is people. People do not behave, act or react in a consistent way. Groups of us could, but we are all individuals.
Customers are not always right
Now, please do not take this concept wrong, it’s just in my own experience I have found the customer is not always right. Take market research for example, if your results through market research for your new business idea come back positive, or negative, does that mean you should go ahead or abandon your idea? The motto that customers are always right has to do with customer satisfaction, catering to individual needs and not arguing with the customer. When starting a business, you may be pushed to say ‘yes’, but be prepared to say ‘no’ too.
Trust your employees only as far as you can throw them
Well, even I have to say that sounds a bit extreme, but when you are starting a business trust takes a while, it’s earned and it’s also a two way stream. There are many shocking stories out there about how trust has been misused; people have made millions from stealing other people’s idea, clients and so forth. However, there are also as many stories of people that have made it by putting their trust in others.
Dress as you wish to be addressed
Appearances are not everything people say and yet, we are judged on them on the first meeting. So, I say dress as you wish people to address you. I’m 29, but without my ID I cannot buy a lotto ticket because I don’t look my age never mind that I have my own business/job. So, I have found I get better results from my staff, networking groups and my bank manager when I dress like a corporate woman.
One thing people don’t tell you often enough is the overwhelming feeling of quitting. All I can say is that the hardest thing you’ve done is taking the step into self-employment or starting a business leaving behind the security of a regular paid job. I have taken a motto from one of my favourite authors that “I can always quit tomorrow” so I will do what I can today.
Like I said before, starting a business is like an emotional roller coaster, there’s highs and lows, fear and wonder, good times and hardships. There are also inner battles you fight with yourself or with others. The negative feelings are not as often and don’t last as long as the positives, they just feel more intense. It’s a wonderful feeling to watch your business grow.
Taking stock of yourself
It’s good to take a moment and take stock of yourself. Have you grown? Have you met your targets? Do you need to pat yourself on the back or kick yourself into more action? I have found it helps me put things into prospective when I look at my time line, from the time I had the idea, the changes and where I am right now. In starting a business there should be a gradual growth pattern for you and the business and that, you should take monitor closely.
The Hare and the Tortoise
Whichever way you’ve interpreted this children’s story – The Hare and the Tortoise, in most cases it’s how you’ll work. It has its own pitfalls you’ll need to work on balancing. Do you find that you work really hard and then lay back a bit? Or do you prefer the slow and steady route and working twice as hard? Find your pace and know when to slow down or speed up.
The Finishing Line
When starting a business it’s very hard to think about your exit strategy. Why think of getting out when you’re only just started out? Well, in every job, I used to see how far the job would take me, will I have any progression opportunities or do I just want to stay in the same position till I retire. It’s all well and good if the job suites your needs for now, but what happens when your needs change? It’s the same as your business, what is the end goal, what are the determining factors when you’ve crossed the finishing line. Every race has a start and a finish. Think hard about them and never forget them.
Above are the issues that took most of my time and energy, however, there are other initiatives such as bookkeeping, marketing, sales and accounts and the requirement and organising of an accountant. Be clear on your requirements, if you are a Sole-trader, Partnership or Limited Company, when to do your Self-Assessment and when company accounts are due. Avoid doing all major decisions over the phone, whether it’s a talk with your bank manager or changes in your business with your staff. Most importantly, follow your gut instincts especially, if the feeling is persistent.
In conclusion, whether you’re starting a business or close to the finishing line, there’s always something around the corner that you didn’t expect or know how to deal with. This is what makes this journey special and a great one.
I would love to hear your story? Drop some comments below. Thanks