This post was written by Sharon Lowe, owner of The Pure Emporia, a natural skincare website. She shares what she has learned during her first year in business.
Starting or recently started a business? Are you feeling daunted? Questioning whether it was the best idea? Lost in the massive amount of work that it takes to run your own business?
You need to stay positive and be as proactive as possible in order to push your business forward, particularly in the current economic climate.
These are my tips for staying on track:
1) Remember why you started the business. There is a good reason in there somewhere – remember it and use it as your motivation. I would rather fail than have died without trying – this helps me know that I’m doing the right thing.
2) Surround yourself with positive, knowledgeable people. Don’t give your precious time to those who do little for your self-esteem or your confidence.
3) Be organised. Prioritise your work and do one job at a time. By trying to do everything at once you will just make mistakes.
4) Know your weakness. You cannot be a master of all tools. For example, accounts may be your weakness. You will spend far more effort and money trying to get it right and then correcting mistakes than if you use the right financial management tools and get an accountant in the first place.
5) Mistakes will happen. Don’t spend time or energy beating yourself up about them. You are human. Learn from the mistake and move on.
6) Ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed about needing help. You can’t be an expert on everything. So many people have been there and done that and people honestly do like helping people. If you’re lucky you may even get the help for free!
7) Your problems are NOT problems. They are mere obstacles in your way. Just work your way around resolving them. You are never going to avoid all of them – they are a fact of life so there’s no point letting them get you down.
8) Market, market, market your business and then market it some more. If people don’t know you exist then they’re not going to know how great you are. Remember, without customers you haven’t got a business.
9) Never be afraid to learn. You’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and learn new skills to run your own business.
10) Use the free resources that are available. There is lots of advice and free courses out there. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Business Link
- StartUp Britain
- Enterprise Nation
- Networking groups – these are a huge resource of knowledge, friendship and support
- Courses run by the government or other businesses to highlight things such as intellectual property, employment law, banking, social media – you generally find out about these in your local media or networking groups.
11) Use social media. I can’t reiterate enough how social media can help a small business grow with little or no cost. Learn how to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ and how to blog for business purposes. This can include guest blogging and writing articles for other websites – your website SEO will improve just for the cost of your time.
Go on a course (preferably a free one) on how to use these tools properly before you make mistakes which may affect your business image. You don’t need to use all of them – just use the ones appropriate for your business and use them well. Don’t waste your time chatting; use the tools properly and effectively and you have an unlimited marketing potential for the cost of your time.
What have you learned during your first year in business that you’d pass on to those just starting out?