There are so many people out there who are looking to drop the 9-5 and start a business on their own, something they are passionate about and too often we get asked on how this can be done.
Here are 20 easy to implement, simple tips that you can use if you are in business for yourself.
#1 Write a Business Plan
First, no matter what you're thinking about doing with your business, whether it something you are good at, something you are passionate about or something you think is trending at the moment, it is always important to sit down and write a Business Plan. Too many business owners are out there winging it and it doesn't matter how good you are at what you do, how passionate you are about what you do or how good your product is, that is not enough to succeed.
You do need to have a plan, so a good place to start is at the end. Start to think about what the business looks like when it's finished. Think about what it is you are trying to build, and you can start backwards from there. It's important that you get up each day with some clarity about what it is you need to do to achieve your goal, and a Business Plan helps you do that.
#2 Do a budget and make sure your idea will make money
Your next tip is a continuation of the first tip because a "budget" is something you need to include in your Business Plan. An important tip that most business owners forget to include in their plans and their budgets is to "budget for profit".
You're going into business to make money. Now, you might not make money in your first year, and if that is something you budget for and included in your plan, perfectly okay! But you cannot go year in year out without making any profit - you need to have some clarity around what your sales will look like in the next 5 years. It's important that you do budget for profit because you are in the business to make money. That's why you're going into business.
#3 Make sure you have some capital to start with (minimum 3 months)
This next tip is about the importance of "capital". Make sure that you've got some capital. It's no good going into business on a wing and a prayer. You do need to have some money to help you get started and a good place to start is to get at least 90 days’ worth of funding. Think about what you need personally to survive, but also what you need and what your business needs to survive for at least 90 days whilst you go about picking up some clients, testing your idea and making sure that it's got legs. If you have no money it can get difficult to grow a business and if you think about it, you have two resources – you can either invest your time or your money. You may have some time during the initial phases, but you also need some money to make sure that you've got your business funded so that you can spend some time maximising your potential, laying the foundation for your marketing plan, investing in systems and technology and structing your business.
#4 Register Business Name and Domain Names
It is important to have a good company name and a quick tip would be to refrain from using your own name because then it becomes harder to sell your company down the track. You're probably not thinking about selling it, but if you do, you may lose a few buyers because they don’t share the same name as you. In addition, it is also important to check that domain names for your company name are available. Is the .com available? Is the .com that I use available? How many are available that you can buy? What about user names?
Another thing to consider is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other Social Media platforms that you may use. Make sure you register your business names on all those once you check availability.
#5 Have a shareholder’s agreement
If you are going into business with someone else, it’s important that you have clear agreements and that the responsibilities are clearly labelled. Too often we see partnerships fail because they don’t have an agreement in place. Unless there's clarity around who does what and by when it doesn't get done very well and you'll be treading on each other's toes.
If you are going to partner with someone, partner with somebody who really compliments what you do. They do things you aren’t good at and vice versa, and make sure it’s clear up front about who is responsible for what areas of the business and who gets the final say.
Another important document to consider is the Shareholder's Agreement and this comes in handy when your business fails or if there is something you need to undo. It can get really ugly if an agreement is not in place.
#6 Get a coach
This next tip is to make sure you get some help. You may have knowledge, know-how and passion for what you do, but all business owners need some help, a hand to hold and a mentor to succeed. Find yourself a coach.
If you can't afford the cashflow to pay for one now, whatever you do don't get friends or family to coach you. Go and find somebody that can mentor you that is objective, that's outside of your business and will be able to hold you accountable to all your goals.
#7 Use Accounting Software
Make sure you use some sort of Accounting Software. There are a fair few different types of software’s available but we use Quickbooks because it does a great job for us and it is an easy to use software especially for start-ups as you can get a plan for as little as $5 or as much as $20 per month. It is a great resource that helps you with your invoicing, your billing, run your monthly reports, make sure that you're collecting your money, make sure you're managing your cash and the best part is that it works on all devices like iPads and iPhones. They work on so many different platforms and make your life easy.
#8 Get a great accountant
Having good accounting software is one thing, but you also need to have a good accountant. Lots of businesses hire an accountant that does nothing but compliance work and that's pretty much what they've been trained to do. Nowadays, you are able to find a lot of progressive accountants, one that you can put on to the team and that is going to help you grow your business and structure it properly, and that you protected from any action that may be taken against you. A competitor might do something, an employee might do something, someone might hurt themselves, you might have a product line or a partnership with something that flops, and you might have to liquidate a company. You never know what's going to happen in the future. A good accountant will make sure that you're structured properly and protected any future incidents.
#9 Be prepared to pivot
Be ready to change. One of the things we see too often is that you start your business and you are passionate about your idea and your product or service, but you take too long to pivot. You take too long to change your mind about changing direction. If what you're doing is not working or no one wants to buy your product or service, then you're probably going to have to change your offering. You must be flexible, and you have to be okay with that.
#10 Ignore the naysayers
There are going to be people out there that tell you it's not going to work, it's impossible, it's a dumb idea, you should just get a job, you should play it safe…
If you've got the entrepreneurial flair go for it. Give it a go, but be prepared to learn. Get yourself educated. Enroll in courses or get a mentor or coach. Just learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. The reason people will tell you not to do it is because they would be too fearful to do it themselves and they're worried for you. Ignore the naysayers and just get on with doing whatever it is that you want to do because if you've got a great product, a great service, then people will want to buy it and you know. And you may go through tough times, but so be it. Take the risk. Be the entrepreneur!
#11 Look after your suppliers and team
Build a team around you. Make sure when you're hiring people you don't pick the best of a bad bunch just because you desperately need to hire somebody. Be careful about who you hire on your team. Take your time. Use tools and resources to help you make your decisions. Things like disc profiling we have available on our website. Create a comprehensive interview process. Make sure they fit with your team and your culture.
#12 Write a blog article a week
In today’s quick paced marketing world, you need to consider blogging. It's a great way for you to be able to educate your audience and your readers on your offer and how they can buy it from you. It's going to help give you clarity about your products and services. It'll give your prospects clarity. It'll give your website some great searchable content. Google will love you. Every business these days should be blogging as it is a great marketing strategy.
#13 Don’t try and do everything yourself – outsource
Make sure, as a business owner, you are okay with outsourcing. Don't try and do everything yourself. Do you have “no one can do it as good as me it is”? It's a bit of a disease a lot of business owners have. You can't do everything yourself. Be prepared to outsource.
Now, in the early days it's hard to hire a full-time team member because of the investment level required and the time required to train that person, so sometimes it's simpler just to outsource some of the things that you can get done easily by giving it out to other organisations. An example would be to outsource your bookkeeping or your web design. If you're not good at something or you don't like doing something pay somebody else to do it and you focus on the stuff that you're good at so it continues to grow your business.
#14 Don’t spend your time comparing yourself to others
Don’t worry too much about your competitors. A lot of you start out comparing yourselves to others in the same industry and then you start to feel bad that you don’t have as big a following as they do, or you don’t have as many sales as they do. It's apples and oranges. You've just started out. You're not going to have it all. You've just got to take your time.
#15 Invest in a good website
This tip applies to ANY business, not just start ups and this question often gets asked. Do I need a great website? Do I need a website at all? As a rule, every single business needs a website in this day and age and the reason for that is because it's the new catalogue or brochure for your business. It's the tool that you can use to be able to showcase who you are, let people know about your brand, about you and get to know you better without having to meet with you. It's a way for people to also find you online.
Another tip is that if you have a website, make sure you are tracking from the first day. That way you can see what sales and what enquiries are coming from your website. Even if you're not going to do Facebook marketing or Google marketing, put all the tracking on there. Start building audiences of visitors so that when you are ready to spend money on marketing your website has already got the Facebook pixel installed, the Google tracking codes installed so you can start straight away.
#16 Make sure you collect your payments from clients
We see loads of businesses struggle with Money and Debt Collection. Make sure that as you start your new business you have a collections process developed and ready to go so when someone doesn't pay you. You can send a letter or an email or make a phone call. You've got a system in place. You're not sitting there scratching your head going, how am I going to get this money. It's important that you think about the fact that people will not always pay you on time. They've got their systems, they get distracted with their lives and if you want to make sure that your business cash flow isn't interrupted because of one or two or three customers that are slow payers, you want to have a process in place.
Never, ever feel uncomfortable chasing your money. If you've done the work and they were happy with the job you have a right to be paid - you're not a bank. You are not getting paid any interest on your money, it's probably costing you money to have that outstanding.
#17 Employ the right people
It is important that you look after your team and equally important that when you think about your team it’s not just you and the people that you employ, it's also people like your accountant, your bookkeeper, the people that you outsource to. It could be your team of suppliers.
As you recruit anybody into your organisation they're all part of a team that are helping you fulfill your vision. They're all joining your team, whether they are clients, suppliers or employers. I know we got a lot of stuff online these days, but the reality is that everyone is part of one big team helping you fulfill your vision. If you're out there with whatever purpose it is you've got in your business they're all helping you achieve that.
#18 Set KPI’s
Make sure you set KPIs - and not just for the business, not just for yourself, but for everybody in the organisation. You want to make sure that everything is trackable, that everything has a number attached to it so you know when it's performing or when it's not performing. If you don’t you may end up spending time and money on things that don’t work. Work out what brings you leads and what doesn’t. Work out what turns those leads into sales and how efficient that system is. It’s important that you set these numbers in the beginning and you'll develop these as you go.
#19 Structure your business for growth
A lot of the time, a business owner like yourself start out relying on yourself to grow your business. The problem with that is you! When you get busy you'll stop marketing and when you stop marketing you'll stop getting new clients and then the work will drop off.
Structure your business for growth. When you get so busy you can't market anymore, you're in a position to outsource or hire somebody to help you either do the delivery or the acquisition of new customers.
#20 Be organised. Use tools like Trello, Wunderlist and Evernote to manage projects, tasks and thoughts
Get Organised! Here are three tools that will help you organise your day:
Wunderlist – a great tool to make to – do lists and delegate those tasks to others in your team Trello – an amazing project management tool Evernote – a great place to collectively save your articles, lists, thoughts and content.
There are so many others out there that you can use, but you can start with these three free tools and get organised in your business.