Top tips for entrepreneurs
You’re an entrepreneur with a business idea, ready to get cracking. It’s an exciting time, but before you dive straight in have a read of these important tips:
Too many start-up business owners go down the "I'm cheaper than my competitors" route. Your skills are valuable, price them according to what the market will pay, not what your competitors are charging. Believe in yourself. If you’re uncomfortable charging a higher rate for your services then your clients are likely to pick up on this and sales will be harder.
Read books. Business books.
There’s a reason we’re always hearing that self-made millionaires read every day. Immerse yourself in new ideas, more knowledge. Know that you'll never have all the answers but keep actively trying to find them.
Learn to love outsourcing.
You will never be good at everything, nor do you need to try to be. While it might be fun to be in charge of the whole ship, your time will become your most scarce resource. Letting go of "doing it all" might be difficult, but for your sanity and the longevity of your business you need to find experts, outsource, build a team and point them in the right direction.
Find a mentor.
These people will help you adjust to managing the ups and downs of running a business. There's no law saying you can only have one at a time. Meet them regularly, ask them questions, people are usually happy to help.
Get a good accountant.
Find someone who understands what you are trying to achieve and will help guide you to achieving it. Find a good fit for you and your business, you don’t want dealing with your accountant to become a headache.
Get an office.
Some people can work from home and be just as dedicated. Others, find distractions and end up procrastinating. If you need a clear distinction between work and home you won’t regret separating the two. With the co-working solutions available now it's incredibly cost effective and will also give you an opportunity to network with other business owners.
Network your socks off.
Don't beat around the bush, get out there, go to every event - regardless of whether you are interested in the speaker or not. The more people you know, the better. There are some really staggering stats about how much business can be brought in through referral marketing, especially in an age where reviews and ratings can be bought, trust in personal recommendations is at an all time high.
Be honest with yourself about work/life balance.
It's OK to love your work, it's OK to take the morning off, work weekends if you like, take days off to spend with your kids. Do whatever works for you - don't let anyone tell you what that balance should be.
Invest in learning time management skills.
Knowing how to prioritise what little time you have is critical to your success. Otherwise you'll simply become overwhelmed by the demands on your time. This can very quickly lead to an unhappy work life balance, so get it right from the start. You could attend a course, or find and use some of the great software that’s available to help you.
Learn to manage people.
Most people know how to manage tasks, very few are good at managing the people who do the tasks. Growing a business is as much about inspiring and enabling people; being good at managing them so they can perform at their best is key. Learn about different work types, different motivators and listen to people.
Recognise overwhelm and step back.
At times you will be busier and under more pressure than you can ever imagine. Recognise when this is happening and step back to give yourself perspective. Focus on the future, don't panic.
Don't neglect the finances.
Poor cashflow is the biggest reason that new businesses fail. Keep your eye on invoicing and payments. It can be an elaborate juggling performance from time to time but it's your duty to keep things on track so don't drop the ball. Don’t increase your spend as soon as money starts coming in – there will be hard times you don’t expect and you’ll need to be prepared.
Invest in your marketing.
Don't be taken in with offers to get cheap business cards. Stand out from the crowd. Invest in a logo, make sure your business cards and website are top notch. Cheap might be appealing in the short term but it will cost you more in the long term. This is your brand image and if you only have cards and a website, they need to look solid. People will base their buying decisions on how they feel about you and your business, so if they feel it is cheap or flaky – that will be their impression of you.
Be careful who you trust.
Don't judge everyone by your own standards. Business can be tough and not everyone has the same agenda as you. Protect your business as if it was your child and if you are not comfortable with something or someone, walk away. Research intellectual property and your rights, and always get agreements in writing. It’s sad but so often in business you fall out with those you least expect to.
Trust your gut instinct.
It's vastly underestimated in an era of big data where we should always be able to analyse everything within an inch of its life. But those times when you can't quite put your finger on it but you just have a feeling? Trust the feeling.
Hopefully these tips help you get off the ground to a successful start! We genuinely wish you all the best with your new business, and can’t recommend enough that you pop by the Northern Business Expo in March 2020. It’s designed to give you all the advice, support, suppliers and skills you need to run a business, and it’s all free to attend. All you need to do is get your free ticket online, then come along on 17th & 18th March at Manchester Central. See you there!