Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? For so many of us, we have clarity and wisdom once an event has passed. Often, business owners only learn many valuable lessons after their company is past the start-up phase, which is frustrating to say the least.
For those of you yet to start up your own business – good news! You don’t need to wait to know these pearls of wisdom; here are six things to learn before creating a business.
Never lose sight of your customers
While money makes the world go round, it’s your customers that are going to make your business grow, so never lose sight of what (or who) is most important. If you approach your business with the attitude of wanting to make your customers happy rather than wanting to make money, this positive mindset will drive your business forward.
Also, remember to listen to your customers. The customer may not always be right, but if your customers are not happy then something is wrong. For a business to thrive, your ultimate aim must be to satisfy your customer and to do that you need to listen to what they want and adjust accordingly.
Make sure you have the right tools
Regardless of what industry your business sits in, there are a wealth of tools available to you. It’s easy to listen to every sales pitch that’s put to you – and there will be many as new businesses are prime targets for eager sales people. When you are first starting out the key question you need to ask yourself is ‘do I really need it?’. Most physical or online tools will be a ‘nice to have’, rather than a ‘have to have’. In the beginning, you need to spend as little money as possible, so don’t outlay for more than you need. When you discover you can’t get something done without the tool, that’ll be the time to get it.
No-one has ever recommended a business they hadn’t heard of, so if your business is going to grow and survive you need your audience to know who you are and what you do. There are numerous industry-specific networking opportunities available across the country. Networking can sound a bit scary if you’ve never done it before, but essentially it’s simply about making conversation, getting to know people and telling them what you can do.
For this, you will need a good pitch sorted. Imagine yourself riding in an elevator with someone and you have the time it takes to travel to the 10th floor to describe your business. Explain your business effectively in less than 20 seconds and people are likely to ask you to tell them more.
Don’t forget to promote yourself online as well. Nowadays every business needs a website and ideally social media profiles as well. If this isn’t something you know how to do there are many agencies who can help you get set up.
You don’t need a huge amount of capital to get started
When you first start your business, you will need to plan for a lean first few months as most businesses don’t see huge profits immediately. While it’s then a good idea to have some money put aside before you get started, be realistic. Dependent on your business type you are unlikely to need a huge amount of capital – either ready to spend or put aside for a rainy day. Having a huge figure in your mind can prevent you ever getting started. Don’t underestimate how much you will be need, but be cautious about over-estimating too.
Understand your finances
The management of invoices, bills and office expenses can be a complicated business but it’s vital to understand. While paying someone to do your finances might feel like an unnecessary expense, bookkeeping is often best outsourced to an expert who can dedicate their time entirely to your finances. That way, you can be sure that everything is accurately recorded, your budgets updated and your clients invoiced, whilst you concentrate on growing the business.
Move forward every day
During the start-up phase of your business you need to seek constant progression, reviewing everything you do, making changes and making improvements. In short, you must seek to move forward each day because if you are doing that, the only way you can go is up.
Once you are past the start-up phase, take a look at this guide to six things I wish I’d known for my growing business.