How To Run Your Own Successful Business.
Some info for would be entrepreneurs.
Many of us at some time in our lives consider the possibility of running our own business, for many people the thought of being the master of their own destiny is very appealing, for those that are stuck with a job they dislike or a career that is going nowhere self employment looks like the answer to their prayers, but is it?
In the past i have created three successful businesses i have also worked as a teacher and on the factory floor doing the nine till five grind that so many of us find demoralizing and soul destroying so i do have the experience of both sides of the equation.
The first thing to remember if you are thinking of opting for self employment is that it is not an easy route to less hours and less work, indeed you may end up doing twice the amount of hours that you did when you were in paid employment, if there is paperwork to be done or phone calls to be made there is no one to pass these chores on to, nobody further down the line who you can advocate as your clerk or secretary, it is all down to you.
If you are thinking of starting a business but you are not 100% motivated then forget it now, opening a new business will initially take up all of your day, your leisure time and most of your thinking time too, if you are not prepared for this then your business is doomed to failure.
Have you a thick skin?
If you are easily upset because someone complains about you or your service then forget about running your own business, a former partner of mine had particular trouble coping with complaints, he seemed to take them very personally and i could visibly see his stress levels rise when a complaint would happen, not surprisingly he is now back in paid employment, the stresses of running a business were not for him, there is an old saying that the customer is always right, well in my experience this old adage is only true to a certain extent, believe me there are people out there who are not happy unless they are complaining and will take great delight in nit picking, moaning and even threatening, trust me you could give your product to some people for free and they would still find cause for complaint, could you cope with this type of person?
Yes a successful business can provide you with tremendous financial gain however like most things in life this takes time, with a business usually it will take at least a couple of years before you start to see any real financial benefit from your efforts, with my first business it actually took two years before i was earning more than i was in self employment, with my second business that actually took three however with my second business the work was a lot easier and the hours were less.
Okay so you have decided that you definitely want to start up your own business, notice that i say business there not small business, all businesses start off small unless they are an offshoot of a major company who have the financial clout to heavily market their new business from the start, from the beginning believe that your company will be as big as you decide to make it, belief in your own abilities is as important as motivation.
How do i market / sell my new business?
Advertising is obviously a quick and easy way to reach potential customers, setting some money aside from your start up kitty to pay for advertising is a wise move, remember if you spend say £400 / $600 on advertising even if those adverts only bring you back half that amount in custom initially, that customer may come back time and time again, they may also tell others about you, trust me positive word of mouth advertising is the best advertisement you can have. If your start up budget doesn't allow for much to be spent on advertising there are still plenty of things you can do. An advert in a local paper usually doesn't cost much, announce your new business on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, get yourself some business cards and make a habit of handing them out, put up a card or advert in your local shop / post office or pub, sponsor a local event, you can get a web page relatively cheaply you could probably even start a blog showing what you make / sell, post links to your site in forums etc, try not to spam but post links where you think your business could be a definite help to the users of that site be proactive and get creative.
How do i grow my business?
Lets imagine for a moment that your new business has been trading for a year and that you have been moderately successful, you have been making chairs in your garden shed and selling them on Ebay offering them as collection only. How do you now push the business forward, get more sales, get more income?
In my experience selling in bulk is the answer to expanding your business, let us say our profit margin when we sell a chair is £15 / $22 all fine and dandy except we are only selling 20 per week, okay it's a profit and a liveable wage but what if we could sell 100 per week?
Now let us imagine we take a sample of our chair to a local furniture shop they agree to buy 50 off you at a price where your profit margin is now only £7 / $12 per chair and they mark the chair up to your original selling price to make their cut, now we have a situation where your profit margin has increased but you are doing two and a half times the work for only one quarter more profit, the answer now is to employ someone, your employee will now make the extra chairs, you pay them a wage but still make more than you were on your own, repeat this process Ad Infinitum and you will soon be making a lot of money, if you are happy with the income you are generating working by yourself for yourself then great but if you want to earn some real profits then the secret is to expand, put the work onto other people, i certainly made the mistake while running my first business of not expanding and trying to do too much myself, use other people to earn money for you if you get the chance and remember that's a relationship that suits both of you.
In your first years of business the value of gaining a good reputation cannot be exaggerated. As i mentioned earlier word of mouth is the best advertising you can have, conversely though it can also be the worst, if someone goes away after a transaction with you happy and content with the service you have gave them they will tell others, they will recommend you, there can be no better advertisement, however if a customer walks away dissatisfied and upset they will obviously not return again and they will tell others, this can have a disastrous affect on your business, which leads me to dealing with customers.
When dealing with customers or potential customers it is essential that you should treat them in a respectful and courteous manner at all times even the awkward ones, if you have employees they should also be made aware of the importance of their interaction with customers, you can offer the best product or service in the world but if your front of house employee is a sullen unhelpful misery people will not be visiting your business again, try to employ people that believe in your business and want it to be a success, i can guarantee you that helpful happy looking people make better salesmen than miserable looking ones. If you get a complaint try to deal with that complaint in a professional manner but also be assertive if you think you are in the right, like i said earlier there are some people that would still complain if you gave them an item for free.
Make sure from the outset that you keep a record of your sales and purchases, this doesn't need to be anything too complicated just make a record of your in comings and out goings, get yourself a decent accountant and hand your books into them once a year to sort out your tax dealings,it is important especially with a new business that you do not get to weighed down worrying about tax and VAT etc, concentrate on making money let your accountant take the pressure off you, start up a business account with your local bank and try to negotiate free banking and a free overdraft for as long as possible, only take on a business loan if it is completely unavoidable reason being if you don't owe the bank anything you will be able to swap to a different bank after a couple of years and receive the new business free banking offer over again, business banking charges can be horrendous.
I hope i have not put anyone off running their own business with this article, my objective was just to give some idea that it is not all chocolates and roses, it can be extremely hard work and yet to me the benefits easily outweigh the pitfalls. There is nothing better to me than when someone asks me what i do for a living than telling them i work for myself, that i am my own boss, that i am the creator of my own destiny, working for yourself enables you to dream, you can dream of becoming a huge company or you can dream of retiring early and leaving the company in the capable hands of others while you still make money, the world really is your oyster, thanks for reading and Good Luck.