‘On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me’ – a note that said get off your butt and do something you really love!
Anytime is a good time to start something new. A new job, new project, new hobby, write a book or even start a new business. The procrastinators amongst you may find this difficult to believe but reality says that this is true and new ventures can be successful in the strangest of times!
So what’s holding you back? Not sure where to start? Frightened of failing? Lost your self-confidence? In terms of a new business, here’s TWELVE things you might want to consider whilst making your plans. I hope you find the headings and text useful. The words in italics are from personal experience and may help to put some perspective on some of the comments.
- BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BEGIN
Just that very motion of putting pen to paper, tapping the keyboard, picking up the phone, opening a folder, whatever it is that means you’ve officially begun. It’s okay that there are other people out there doing the same thing, that you’re the new kid on the block, that you’re small. You can still begin. You might not be able to give up the day job straight away but you can BEGIN.
Be prepared to make sacrifices, work for little pay, ask for favours and most importantly, deal with feedback. There is no failure, only feedback. Work towards the tipping point when you know you have a viable business and then go all in. We started one business while being fully engaged in another. This had lots of advantages and allowed time to grow organically.
- FIND CUSTOMERS IN OTHER BUISNESSES
And as soon as you begin, start looking out for allies. Yes you need customers, but there are businesses that you can help and that can help you. Look out for businesses that have the same customer base and piggy back.
In one of our start-ups we were able to link up with a software company who had to incorporate our type of service into their programme. We helped them with content, they worked out how to make it work in their programme. It was a perfect fit and win/win for us both.
- BE AUTHENTIC
Find a product or service that is a good fit for you. Something you enjoy, that suits you. Something you believe in, where you can be true to yourself. Something where you can use your strengths. How much happier and productive we are when we’re using our strengths.
One business grew out of fulfilling a need for our existing clients. We had the expertise, were good at what we did and were able to make the most of our strengths.
- RECRUIT ATTITUDE, TRAIN THE REST
When you need to build a team around you then of course, recruit the basic credentials eg bookkeeping, software, programming, admin, whatever skills you need. But mostly recruit the right ATTITUDE. Surround yourself with the right people. Secure the skills you haven’t got. Build a superb team.
The ‘recruit attitude, train the rest’ philosophy never failed us, including once when we didn’t even have a vacancy. We met the right person, with superb credentials and the most amazing attitude. She transformed our business.
- KEEP LEARNING AND GROWING
Study areas that interest you, things that will be useful, use your strengths – leave your weaknesses to someone else. Stay in touch with your industry, your topic, your market. Stay motivated to keep making progress.
Studying and learning, even vocational topics, helped us stay fresh and forward thinking. For me, understanding communication and the complexities of human interaction was the key interest and NLP was transformational for me, in that respect.
- DO YOUR HOUSEKEEPING
Paperwork, licences, accounts, returns, maintenance. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place. And this doesn’t mean you do all these things yourself! Rules and regulations can be boring and uninspiring but ignore them at your peril. There are many experts and many who genuinely enjoy working with the compliance you need.
‘Outsource like a lunatic’ was the advice I once heard. So if housekeeping isn’t your strength, or your time is better spent doing other things in your business – outsource. Having a background in Financial Services, we were very used to ‘compliance’ of all kinds. It’s a very useful discipline. I’ve seen many businesses fail when their housekeeping let them down.
- BUILD A ROBUST MANAGEMENT TEAM
As well as your legal and financial professionals outside the business (Accountant, Lawyer, etc) this is for your immediate Management Team too. If you want to grow your business, then secure the management team with the expertise you need. Make sure they know their role. No-one can be good at everything.
Our business transformed from a cottage industry the day we recruited our Financial Director – or ‘Iceman’ as we named him. Cool, laser focussed, an expert on growth and who thrived on measuring, monitoring and metrics of all kind!
- SEEK OUT INCREDIBLE MENTORS AND COACHES
Some people we simply inherit and often this isn’t good enough. Instead rethink, change, learn, seek advice. Look out for your heroes. Listen to the experts in your field. Find a Mentor. Employ a Coach. Be inspired.
We were so fortunate to be ‘adopted’ by a hugely respected business man who took an interest in our company. His pragmatic view and occasional slap, kept us on track, accountable and inspired. Never underestimate what you can learn over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
- MAKE PEACE WITH AN EXIT PLAN
If you’re building a business there’s usually only two get outs – you sell; or you pass it on. Both options should earn you a pay-out! You don’t have to worry too much about this at the beginning but it’s worth knowing that an end will come at some point. If things don’t work out, you might even have to accept walking away and moving on.
We did have to walk away from one business and it was completely the right thing to do. We didn’t know that at the time but how we grew from that ending has let history prove it right. When success beckoned in our subsequent businesses, we chose a sale, something that our now grown children remind us, might not have been the right thing to do. Building a legacy is enormously rewarding but unfortunately our children were still sowing their wild oats when we were ready to move on! We all know the wonders of hindsight.
- UNDERSTAND PROFIT AND TURNOVER
Turnover can be a fool’s game. You may have a handsome turnover but the overall results could be ugly if there is no profit. Profit is where the value is, for drawings, for borrowing and for selling too. It’s common for start-ups not to even pay a living wage to the owner. It may be necessary while you build your business, acquire customers, market your brand but it is not sustainable. Soon you have to build in profit.
If you have a £200k turnover but your costs were £210k, you may have well stayed at home for the year – you’d have been £10k better off. Reality check!
- HAVE SOME FUN
Don’t take life too seriously! Lighten up. Life is for living and enjoying each step of the way. You can’t keep putting off enjoyment until this happens, or that happens.
We partied hard, celebrated often and laughed a lot. Yes there were hard times, gruelling sometimes but there was always time for some fun.
- LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Look after yourself and those around you. Build in regular exercise, quality food, rest and relaxation. You need to be fit and well to run a business. And you need to be fit and well to make the very most of your life, your talents and your dreams. There’s more awareness than ever regarding physical and mental wellbeing and plenty of support to build in the resilience you’ll need.
When we learned to take time off, that’s when we really understood how much we needed that recovery time, and how our performance and creativity improved because of it. While striving for the future, always make the most of today. Schedule time and effort for your good health, it will be the most important investment you ever make.
Jan Tinsley is an entrepreneur and business woman with Business and Marketing credentials. As a Master NLP Practitioner and Coach, she shares her enthusiasm for Positivity and Optimism and her experience in business through PowWow, an online community that encourages people to talk, learn and grow. Join in to meet regularly, stay positive, hear from inspirational guests and learn more about how to make progress with whatever you’re doing right now www.powwow.im