I have been to a local business event this afternoon and I was talking to a few business women about starting in business and how it has you running around like an idiot and achieving nothing. We all agreed that it had been like that for us so it got me thinking about why this was so and what we could do to help prevent it from happening to you.
The first thing I think new business people face is sheer and utter overwhelm. You are bombarded with things you must do, things you must buy and things you must have before you start trading. There are hundreds of people giving you lots of advice – some of it good, but in the midst of all this clutter most of it gets lost or forgotten about as you go on blindly bouncing from one thing to the next and getting to the end of the day exhausted but not really having achieved very much.
I used to think about myself as the ball in the pin ball machine. I would go hurtling towards one task only to be blindsided by something else, far more important, that needed doing. I would bounce around all day from one thing to the next. My focus was split, my concentration was minimal and my temper fraught. All that crashing around got me nothing except a headache. So how could I have avoided it?
Well one thing I wish had done sooner was find a proper coach/consultant/helper/mentor or whatever you want to call it. I just needed one person to tell me what I needed to be doing that day. what I needed to concentrate on and what I could leave for tomorrow. I needed someone who had been in my shoes to guide me through the quagmire and get me safely and sanely to the other side of the swamp.
Failing that there are a few tips you can follow that should keep you on track.
Decide what is absolutely necessary.
You don’t need a fancy website to get started in business (unless of course you plan to do business online). You could focus on finding customers first. You can tell them your website is under development (sounds posh) or that you have been too busy to get one sorted yet (sounds like you have a good business already which instills confidence).
You don’t need to have a Facebook page for your business just yet either, in fact I would say definitely don’t do this until you know what you are doing because you could end up being closed down altogether by Facebook if you don’t follow their strict rules for business pages.
You don’t need to worry about accounts just yet either. You need to start making money before accounts become an issue. Just make sure you keep all your receipts safely somewhere so that you are keeping a track of what you are spending. I used to use an envelope for each month just to keep it really simple and then all the envelopes went into a document wallet to keep them safe until I needed to give it to the accountant.
Plan your day.
If you plan your day by order of priority then you are far more likely to achieve whatever you set out to achieve. Having no plan means that you are more likely to get distracted and go off track and waste time on unnecessary activities.
It should be a realistic plan. Count the hours you have available and sensibly gauge how long each task is going to take you. You might not complete a task in just one day, you might need to do some research or spend time creating something. You can always set aside some time the next day to complete it.
Work on one thing at a time. If you try to multi-task (which by the way is considered very 1990’s) you will split your focus and your attention and your concentration. The effect of this will be that you have not achieved any task as well as you could have if you had given your full attention to it.
When something is completed on your list tick it off. This will give a visual representation of your progress and you will be able to see if you are where you need to be in the list at that time and if necessary you can amend the list or the time frames.
Take a break.
It is no good trying to do something when you are tired, frustrated or just simply not in the mood. You need to take a break from your work just like you would do if you worked for someone else. Get up from your workstation, walk around, make a drink, go out for a walk. Just the simple act of taking a break can refresh you and make all the difference to your productivity.
We all have times of the day when we have high energy and times when we have low energy. Trying to do something when you have no energy is not enjoyable and will tire you even more. By knowing when you are most energised you can plan your work activity around this. When you have low energy (3pm) you could use this time to take break and go and do something totally different. You work for yourself now, you have this luxury. Use it!!!
Don’t over do it.
New business owners often find that are working all hours of the day. They often tell me that they don’t have enough hours in the day and I can really relate to this as I still feel like this sometimes. I suppose the difference for me and probably you now, is that we enjoy what we do and it no longer seems like work.
The problem though, is that you still need down time and time with your friends and family otherwise you will start to resent your business the way you used to resent your job. Give yourself permission to take some time off every day and especially the weekends when the children are around. If you plan your days properly you should have more than enough hours in the day and you should be able to achieve everything you need to do.
One step at a time
Businesses grow over a period of time. They grow and develop slowly at first. It takes time to build a customer base and then get referrals that you need to sustain your business. You will probably have a lot of time on your hands to begin with while you wait for those orders to come flooding in. Take this time to create the things that you will need later on.
You need to just take one step at a time and learn to walk before you run. The first step is to get your business plan done. Even if you don’t need a bank loan it is a really good way of determining exactly what your business is, who its customers are, who its competitors are and what your unique service or selling points are going to be.
The second step is to create your brand. Think about how you want to present yourself to the world. What logo would you like, what colours, fonts and artwork would you like to see on your business cards and fliers? You might need to think about a name too. If you are going to have a website at some point think about whether the domain name would be available and keep an eye on the length of it as you want it quite short and punchy. So if your business is Tammy’s bags and shoes, would tammysbagsandshoes.co.uk be available as a domain name, and if it was would it be too long for a website address?
The third step is to get your business cards. Tip: only order a hundred or so to start with because you will probably want to change something on them and if you have 500 it will take a long time to get through all of them.
The fourth step is attend local networking events. Go out and talk to people about what you do and how your can provide a service or product that would meet their needs. Most of these events are free or very cheap and you get to meet a whole variety of people who not only might become customers themselves but might know others who could become customers too. Have your business cards ready to give out at every opportunity.
That’s it. To begin with that is all you need to do to get your business started. Once it is up and running, and you are earning money from it, you can then start to worry about your website or premises or all the things you need to outlay money for.
I hope you have found these tips useful. I wish someone had told me this when I first started (or maybe they did and I just didn’t hear them).
Business and Life Coach