Always wanted to be self-employed, but never quite managed to take the leap?
Eighteen months on from quitting an office job to go it alone as a career coach, I’ve learned just a thing or two about starting and running a business. Here are my top seven tips to help you on your way.
1. RECONNECT TO THE CHILD WITHIN
I often think that kids are the only ones who truly have life figured out. They embrace life and the opportunities it has to offer so easily.
Kids see opportunities and act on them. They wake up one morning and decide they want to start a business, so they sell lemonade on the street, set up a tuck shop from their school locker, or charge their friends to play video games at their house. They don’t sit around agonising over their idea for weeks, months, or even years on end. They just get on with it and try it out.
‘Older and wiser’, the saying goes, but as the years go by, we lose that entrepreneurial, gung-ho attitude we had as children and instead, our inner saboteur starts to take root: punching holes in each of our ideas so that we never quite manage to get started.
If you have a gut feeling about your idea, get started as soon as possible before those creeping doubts seep in.
2. EMBRACE FAILURE
We all hate to fail, but if you’re going to be successful, you can’t spend days crying in to your coffee every time something goes wrong. Instead, embrace failure as your best friend. Detach yourself from it emotionally, and look at what it can teach you.
Then get back to work and use what you’ve learned from failure to move your business forward.
3. YOU’LL NEVER KNOW ENOUGH: LAUNCH AND LEARN
Too often we want to wait just one more day before we launch our business idea to the world. We think we need to read just one more book, go on just one more training course, get just one more certificate before we’re ready to get out there for real.
You will never, ever know enough.
Learning happens on the battlefield, not watching from the side-lines. The idea that you will ever know ‘enough’ to start is a total myth, resulting from your own fears of inadequacy and failure.
Just launch and learn.
4. DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT PEOPLE WANT
You may think you know what people want, but don’t be surprised if you try to give people something and find they throw it back in your face. Smart business is about truly knowing what people want, and meeting them there.
5. ALWAYS GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS
This point was really driven home to me on a recent trip to a new hairdresser. These days, it’s pretty standard practice for a head massage to be thrown in whilst your hair is being washed, so I really wasn’t surprised when the person washing my hair started to massage my head.
What did surprise me was that this head massage went on, and on, and on. I really thought I’d died and gone to heaven and for that reason alone, I’ll be going back again.
Going above and beyond your clients’ expectations is very smart for business.
6. MARKETING IS LIKE SEX: ONLY LOSERS PAY FOR IT
Let’s stick with this hair salon, shall we? Having received an absolutely top-notch service, I couldn’t help but tell my friends about it and, whenever anyone asks me for a recommendation, I always tell them to use this place.
You can waste a ton of money on fancy marketing and advertising, or you can just get on with your job, provide an incredible service and really, the rest will take care of itself.
7. IF YOU’RE NOT IN LOVE WITH YOUR BUSINESS, IT WON’T WORK
Starting your own business is tough. I work longer hours now than I ever did as an employee. Massive amounts of hard work and dedication are required if you’re going to make it. When others are giving up and going home, you will have to find the energy to stay in the game.
That level of grit and determination can only come from something you really care about. So whatever you do, don’t go into business just because it’s where you think the money is. Go into business about something you’re passionate about and it will never feel like you’re giving up your life to make it work.