When I’ve made the decision to start my own business, I knew it would be hard. I didn’t know exactly how hard it would be yet I knew that building a successful company would take time. I knew it would take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to gain the freedom and flexibility I desired.
While I’ve fulfilled my dream of becoming my own boss, I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. In fact, if I could go back and start again, I would do so many things differently.
So for those of you who are just starting out and who wish to avert huge miscalculations, here are my tips to building a successful business:
1. Select the best business structure.
Understand the various entity structures to determine the best option for your circumstances. This is one of the most important decisions you have to make. You need to weigh the pros and cons of every option so it’s not an easy choice to make on your own. Seek professional advice from a trusted solicitor or accountant. These experts can walk you through the huge implications of a business structure on your taxes, paperwork, liability and more.
2. Create a great yet flexible business plan.
Have a clear picture of your business purpose, direction and target market. Write a business plan to help you clearly identify these areas, visualise where you are headed, and lay out the steps you need to take to achieve your short and long-term business goals. Harvard Business Review summarises the key components to consider in your plan in four letters: PIMM. That’s for People, Idea, Model, and Market. Your business plan doesn’t have to be absolutely rigid; instead, it must allow room for changes.
3. Know your numbers.
Estimate the earnings and expenses of your business for 6-12 months. This way you can forecast if you have enough cash to cover the costs of running your business for that period. How much does it cost to run your business each day? Avoid surprises by meticulously calculating the costs of accounting and legal advice, internet or phone installation, power connection, marketing, supplies and equipment, wages and other recurring expenses. How much do you need to charge to cover these costs? And what price will the market bear for your product or service? Get to know your numbers.
4. Document systems and processes.
You may only be small to start off with, but as you grow it will be so much easier to slot employees into their roles if tasks are clearly written or recorded for them to follow. It will also save you time and energy in training, allowing you to focus on what you do best: growing the business. In addition, you will enjoy the side benefit of having more money to pay for a new employee or equipment.
5. Connect with like-minded people.
There will be days when you will feel like throwing in the towel. Before that happens, surround yourself with people who listen, cheer your spirits or challenge you to get up and pursue your business aspirations. Being able to discuss how you are feeling with other business owners will show you that you are not alone. It’s refreshing to hear the struggles and success of your fellow entrepreneurs and share your own, too. This engaged and supportive network can help you get through tough days. To add to this, you will be able to pick their brains and learn vital tips and tricks that they have tried and tested in their business, saving you from re-creating the wheel.
I wish I had known these things when I was just starting out. However, if I did, I wouldn’t be able to share these valuable tips with you. My own business mistakes and difficulties taught me these ideas and lessons and now I’m passing them on to you. I hope every business owner reading this can avoid my mistakes and benefit from my experience.
Have a business story or struggle to share? Please feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you.