I’ve been in business for 6 years now and have won several awards, kept going despite the global pandemic and even seen growth during that time, and I have some ambitious plans for the future that I’m very excited about!
Looking back to when I started, I didn’t imagine my business would be like this and so I thought I’d write this blog as words of advice for who I was at the start of my business journey. I think it’s good to reflect on the past, things that have gone well and things that haven’t; and I hope that these words might help you if you’re at the start of your business journey too!
Never be afraid to ask for help
When you start a business there’s so much you don’t know, yet you feel like you should know it all. There’s the thought in the back of your mind that if you ask questions, you’re going to look like you don’t know what you’re doing and who’s going to work with you after that!
This is categorically untrue.
Every business owner I’ve met have felt the same way and regretted not asking for help sooner.
It’s impossible to know everything you need straight away so ask for help! You can do it online, at networking events, you can see if there’s a mentor available in your industry who will take you under their wing or you can find an online course. Whatever it is, there will be a way to get the help you need.
Constant learning and research is vital
Whether you work in the marketing industry or not, there will be continual changes and things you need to keep on top of. If you don’t continually upskill and keep on top of things, it’ll start to show in your work.
There might be CPD requirements for your profession and there may not be, regardless, you should make sure that you are taking new courses, reading the latest industry journals and networking within your industry as much as possible to keep abreast of new information and what’s in the pipeline.
Contracts are essential no matter how small the job might be
Contracts can seem scary, and sometimes unnecessary if you’re just doing a job for a friend (word of advice, don’t do that!) but they really are essential.
Contracts allow you and the other party to be clear on what’s going to happen, who’s responsible for what, what payment will look like and any legal implications for breaking said contract. It’s just a polite and formal way to get things square with each other before you get started.
Generally, people who avoid signing contracts either don’t understand them and you can break down what it means in more detail or are likely to be problem clients and best avoided anyway.
Admin tasks are important – get them done!
Yawn, yes, I know, admin is dull and boring, and you have a million and one other things you could be doing instead but get it done anyway.
But those invoices need sending, the membership to your professional needs to be renewed, the stack of supplier invoices need paying and you really should get your accounts sent across to your accountant too.
Each admin task is important in its own right, no matter how minor it might seem. So, dedicate a half day a week or so to clearing the backlog and then keep on top of it!
Outsource what you can, as soon as you can
It’s not just the paperwork that can be outsourced though and really, if a task isn’t directly earning you money consider giving it to someone else to do.
Yes, it costs money, but it’s often cost effective to outsource tasks to professionals who can zip through them in less time and do a better job than you can while you can earn money in the meantime.
Let’s take copywriting as an example. If you’re not a natural write it might take you all day to write a blog for your website. A copywriter could probably blitz through it in an hour or two and they know the tricks of the trade you don’t to get it optimised for SEO, etc. Two hours expense versus a day’s missed earning potential – it’s a no-brainer really!
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth
Sometimes it’s not the creative ads you’ve put out about your business that gets you the most revenue but word of mouth referrals (which is why marketing should be focused on your reputation and credibility alongside what you have to offer).
Whether it’s friends and family sharing what you do, happy clients sharing testimonials or winning Twitter awards and getting noticed online – it’s the buzz around you that can carry the most weight.
Winning the #SBS award from Theo Paphitis gave me so much confidence that improved my business in every area and opened up so many new opportunities to me. This is the kind of buzz I’m talking about here, and it’s something that money simply cannot buy.
Find the right balance
Most of us start our own businesses to have a better work/life balance but then we find there’s so much more work involved when you have to do everything yourself, there’s little time left for your family or yourself.
It’s important to establish “working hours” and stick to them!
Don’t be tempted to work outside of those hours, do everything you can to streamline your processes and ensure you can get your work done within those hours, and don’t feel guilty for taking an afternoon off to see your child’s school concert!
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful, maybe just as a reminder for the things you already knew but they’d somehow slipped along the wayside. No matter where you are in your business journey, don’t give up! Success and opportunity often come when you least expect them!