Starting and running your own business requires plenty of planning and plenty of hard work. To help you get off on the right foot we asked successful entrepreneurs for their top tips and got so many responses that we decided to write two posts.
The right stuff Running your own business can be challenging and rewarding, but it isn’t for everybody. Entrepreneurs have a unique skillset with common characteristics including: motivation, discipline, tenacity and a thick skin. Before you begin dreaming about being your own boss ask yourself if you have really got what it takes.
The big idea Once you’ve had a business brainwave carefully examine it with your head rather than your heart. Stay focussed and put together a plan that will generate a steady income while making the most of your knowledge and skills.
What’s your USP? It’s a competitive market and you need something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Make sure your customers know what’s unique about your business and don’t be afraid to keep reminding them exactly what you are bringing to the table.
Know your competition Time spent carefully analysing your competition is time well spent. Not only will you get a clear idea of what you are up against, but you’re likely to learn some valuable lessons and identify some overlooked opportunities.
Stick to your plan Preparing a business plan can sometimes seem tedious and unnecessary, but as the old adage says ‘it’s about the journey and not the destination’. Think of your business plan as a map that will help you identify challenges and opportunities and make sure you stay on the right path.
Family and friends Starting a business can be an uphill struggle and you’ll need plenty of moral support. Make sure you know who’s on-board and happy to provide a shoulder to lean-on or an ear to chew.
The bottom line Running a business involves spinning a lot of different plates and it’s tempting to spend more time on the things you are good at rather than tackling the tricky tasks. However, as every successful entrepreneur knows you need to focus on the bottom line and that means keeping a close eye on cashflow. Spending an afternoon designing business cards might be creatively rewarding, but in today’s digital age it might not be financially rewarding.
Money matters The Number One rule of business is to stay on top of your finances and if you aren’t comfortable with numbers; don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Business finances can take time to master and you can save time and money by getting a reputable accountant to do the heavy lifting.
Legal responsibilities Running your own company entails a lot of legal obligations (from tax to business insurance) and it’s important that you don’t fall foul of the law. If in any doubt seek professional advice and you can then spend more time on doing what you do best: running your own business.