Who said it was easy running a business?

Running a business

Increasing productivity and efficiency in the workplace is not easy, especially when you’re running your own business. I thoroughly enjoy running a business for so many reasons, being my own boss and the freedom that it allows me to mention a few. However, speaking to fellow business owners in my day to day life, I often find the same old conversations cropping up.

To this end, I thought I’d share a few of my personal tips with you as they seem to have served my company and myself well in my 25 years in the direct marketing sector.

Running a business successfully

Never give up

Running a business is like riding a roller coaster. Fortune doesn’t happen overnight, it requires hard work, tantrums, tears and time, lots of time. If you don’t see tremendous results straight away, don’t worry. Just keep on doing what you do best: be consistent, stubborn – hustle and don’t give up. “If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill

Establish yourself as an expert

This will set you apart from your competition, be known as the go to person / gatekeeper! This may entail reading articles online and trade magazines to stay abreast of what’s new in your field, regular blogging / podcasting, writing a book, securing media placements, marketing correctly, attending exhibitions, attending and giving seminars, being active on social media etc. Try to surround yourself with professionals, clients, suppliers and employees and advocates who are as smart (or smarter), as motivated, as passionate and as professional as you. This sort of discipline is part and parcel of running a business.

Standing behind your product or idea

When running a business, this is the most important thing you could do; after all, if you aren’t your number one fan, who will be? You need to be fully committed and passionate about what you do to make it happen – after all, it takes time, effort and lots of hard work to successfully grow your business. Running a business is 24/7 so why not enjoy what you do instead of making it a chore?

Responsive and engaging with clients

Don’t keep them waiting. Always be honest and make sure clients feel like they know everything that’s happening, keep them in the loop. Show them you’re sympathetic to their needs and that you care, compassion and empathy are really appreciated. Always return calls/emails the same business day as it’s amazing how many opportunities are lost simply because the person didn’t respond in a timely fashion – FOLLOW UP! This is obviously crucial to running a business whether a start up or established company.

Running a business with clients in focus

Always do the scary stuff first

You’ll feel better for having tackled it and it sets a good tone for the rest of the day when running a business of any kind. My other piece of advice is if you are having trouble making a decision, then you probably need further clarification. Don’t be afraid to go back and ask more questions. The clients may not be happy or in a rush to gain the information they need, however by taking your time and getting it right first time, this shows you know your ‘beans’ and can do what’s been asked of you.

Learn to sell

Great selling can overcome bad marketing (which no one should have today), but great marketing can never overcome bad selling. If you can’t sell why not read books / blogs or listen to cd’s of people who can? In today’s world, the internet is full of ‘Gurus’ in their chosen fields willing to share their knowledge on running a business effectively; it’s free so go get it guys!! “Work hard on yourself than you do your business” – Jim Rohn

Not all customers are good customers

Never be afraid to say “No” if you feel you’re not suitable or unable to deliver, and say it quickly as this shows you to be good at what you do! Firstly, you know almost immediately if it’s a bad fit as you can’t fulfill what’s being asked of you, and secondly, the person is not who you choose to work with. If it’s the first, try referring them onto someone who can help them. If it’s the second, you may need to move them on (nicely) as they’ll be trouble you just don’t need? When running a business this is very hard to do, but so essential if you want to grow your business with the right kind of client!

Recognise and embrace

The responsibilities you have to those but for whom you wouldn’t be in business i.e. customers, suppliers, investors (which may consist of family members) and employees, reward them… tell them they are important to you and your business on a regular basis as everyone likes a bit of recognition. The more people know you appreciate them the more they will want to help you – it’s human nature!

Running a business for better business growth

Rome wasn’t built in a day

So, listen to everyone’s advice but go with your heart as it is ‘you’ who is running a business. Take one day at a time, each day brings a new learning experience.  When you ‘mess up’ which you will after time, take it as a learning experience not a failure.

Being uneducated myself, I feel that no amount of classes or school can truly prepare you for running a business. Common sense, gut feelings and interpersonal skills are what are going to get you through (especially in your first few formidable years). Use your common sense every step of the way – don’t trust everyone and if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Follow your gut feeling when it comes to people, places, situations, and circumstances – only you know you and your business and what’s required in running a business, nobody else.

Be yourself, put yourself out there, but be able to read and pickup on social cues and others’ body language. 70% of being a good businessman is being good with people, 30% is actually business (especially when you’re starting up). You want people to enjoy being around you, enjoy hearing about your product, and eventually, trust you enough to spread the word about your service. Be yourself, don’t over-complicate situations with business jargon, trust few and learn how to sell yourself before selling your product/service.

How do you prepare yourself when running a business? Why not share your ideas below on how you conduct your business and yourself with positive action.

Tagged under:

  • Stuart Davidson

    Running a business is hard! I try to manage two companies and feel that sometimes I spread myself too thin. Having a good team around you is the way to go to get a good work/life balance.

    • Spot on with work/ life balance Stuart as many years ago a very good friend of mine who worked in the city every hour invented had a literal smack in the face. Reason being his youngest daughter was having “problems”, so much that she went to see someone about it. When sitting with this councilor she was asked to draw a picture of her family. When the daughter showed the picture to the councilor and her mum he wasn’t in it. When asked where dad was the daughter replied “at work”.. After being told this my friend cut his hours making sure his daughters knew who he was. From that day on I remember this and will always make sure I’m there for my girls before they grow up and are gone.

      • Stuart Davidson

        What an inspiring story, Neil. There’s much more to life than earning a ton of money.

      • Here Here:-)

      • WOW, indeed inspiring Neil. As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words and quite literally in the visual you’re talking about. Thank you!

      • Just makes you STOP and think:-)

  • Deibo

    My first reading of your blog well done!
    Lots of very good ideas here

    • Happy you enjoyed and gained some great ideas Deibo. Watch this space for a new blog coming soon – hope you’ll enjoy that too:-)

  • Thanks Kate…. Its all about knowing who you want and would like to do business with as its YOUR choice, not theirs. Why do business with customers you don’t like? Doing business with customers you do like is a lot easier as they will become advocates in the long run for you and your business:-)

  • Kate Warr

    Nice blog… i like ‘not all customers are good customers’ – i find this normally scares people but an invaluable tip people need to know!

  • Harry

    Great title. Agree with you. It’s never easy running your own business, but on the other hand nothing else gives you more joy than that. That’s why it is important to know what you are getting into before jumping in. If you don’t have the right qualities needed to be successful at running a business may be you should think twice about it.

    In my mind the qualities you need are perseverance, self-starting, risk taking, quick decision making and organization.

    • Thanks for taking time to respond Harry. Perseverance, self-starting, risk taking, quick decision making and organization are all fab traits to have in life let alone when running a business. Being true to yourself and your clients is a good one too:-)

  • Tony

    Doing the scary stuff first is where it’s at. Many people avoid it hence procrastinate hence slows business down! As you say – tackle it first!

    • Thanks Tony…. “Dont talk about it, just do it” is what my mum always says, and its so so true:-)

  • Well said! Its to easy to give up:-)

  • Baby Names

    There are no shortcuts to success. you have to be patient, and never ever give up!

  • Satie Punglia

    Fantastic post with real value. Loving the tips. Especially the Never Give Up section. All too often I come across people in business who want instant success what they don’t seem to grasp is that there is a lot of work that goes on in the back ground. Man did not take his 1st step on the moon in 1 step……….it took years of hard work and “standing on the shoulders of giants” to take that 1 step!

  • Excellent post Giller. I love the fact you have put Never Give Up number one on the list. I think this is the prime take-away for most business people and entrepreneurs who read his post. Persistence and commitment is a massive characterful part of any person running a business. I think this would even apply to employees within a larger corporation through awesome team management. Well done.

    Question, if I may: What has been the most difficult aspect in the many years you have run your business?

  • Sara

    I like “Great selling can overcome bad marketing (which no one should have today), but great marketing can never overcome bad selling” well said!

  • Samuel

    Thanks for sharing your experience Neil. Total commitment and passion goes a long way. You have offered some valuable tips and some, more difficult to achieve then other but if we did all to perfection we would be booming.


  • Fantastic article with some great tips Neil. It really is vital to keep going, be consistent and power through. The results are SO worth it. Love the Jim Rohn quote too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Neil Giller

      My Absolute pleasure Bhavik. I think we all need to remember that other business people are in the same boat as us. No one said it was easy but when it goes right that makes it all worthwhile 🙂