Setting your business up for success - the advice I wish I'd been given when I first set my business up.
Sep 03, 2019
Are you feeling a bit lost on where you should start when it comes to setting up your business and running it productively?
I want to share with you the advice that I wish I'd received when I first set myself up as a sole trader ten years ago. I hope this saves you a lot of time and you can fast forward to being prepared and ready for attracting your ideal customers.
Here are the best pieces of advice I got when I started my business:
Work on your business mindset.
- A healthy mindset (that you continue to work on) is something that we need to develop, it comes with experience, self-development and coaching. It's what helps you work through the rollercoaster that comes with building your business. For me, being a freelancer and working for other people was the much "safer" option. I realised I wasn't learning or reaching my full potential by staying as the contractor or employee.
- Don't spend time trying to find that one unique thing! It's not always about finding the one thing no one else is doing. It's about you doing what you enjoy doing and you are the one unique thing that makes your business stand out.
- Don't let your fear overtake whether you're ready or an expert stop you from taking action. People relate to you, not your expertise. Where you are in your journey could be more useful to your customers than the person you see as an expert.
Make sure you have a plan.
- Create a business plan and incorporate your own goals. If an extended business plan is off-putting for you, start with one page and keep adding to it. I encourage you to create one even if you aren't going to share your business plan with anyone else. It's an excellent exercise to do after setting your goals. Without a clear business plan and business goals, you can't outline your marketing goals. It will give you focus and clarity before you start levelling up your marketing efforts.
- Understand who your customer is. As the saying goes "try speaking to everyone and end up speaking to no one". So many people skip this step and don't focus in on who their ideal clients are and end up not creating content and messaging that resonates or speaks to them. Take time out to research them, talk to them and create your buyer personas.
- Get interested in your finances. Get an accountant and get yourself a sound invoicing system. HMRC is moving over to make tax digital so you will need to do all your invoicing and bookkeeping using systems and processes that comply. I use Quickbooks and Receiptbank. I also invest in an accountant and bookkeeping service. To me, it's an essential investment as I'm getting financial advice as well as an accountant. When I started, I only used my accountant for my tax return, but as my business grew, so did my need for more financial support.
Have a marketing strategy, whether it's offline or online.
- Take your marketing seriously and be strategic. Expect to spend at least 50% of your time doing your marketing for your business, whether that's online or offline. Without marketing, you won't generate many leads or sales. Also, really think about getting support if you don't have marketing experience. I'm a marketer, and I know that my marketing is generating sales. I spend time on it and invest in the areas that I don't have time to look after or in the areas that aren’t my zone of genius. Marketing encompasses so many different parts of your business, to stop it being overwhelming and ineffective, make sure you have a strategic plan.
- Get clear on what you're offering. You need to be clear on what your offers are. It's amazing how many customers are left wondering "how can you help me?" and “how can I buy from you". Start with three prominent offers on your website; you can always have a bespoke service as well. And talk about what you regularly offer.. Without a clear call to action, your customers will have no idea what to do next.
- Get your social media channels ready. If you don't have a website yet get your social media channels ready. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is top-notch and up to date so that you can direct customers to it if you don't have a website yet.
- Get a website. Yes, some people get lots of success without a website and always have work. But can you grow your business without a website? And what could the cost be to your business by not investing in a good website?
Invest in support and keep reviewing what you need to outsource.
- Don't try and do everything yourself. Business owners get stuck and don't grow their business because they try and do everything themselves. I would have delayed the launch of my new course by six months if I hadn't outsourced my website design and branding. Also, it definitely wouldn't have been as professional.
- Invest in support. Work out what your zone of genius is - what should you be spending time on in your business? What do you hate doing? Outsourcing continually needs reviewing. Without support and investment, you could end up stuck and not being ready for your customers, or worse; you won't have any customers.
- Give yourself a startup budget. Now many businesses are online, it's easier to get set up at a relatively low cost. But as I've said above, this could mean you don't move forward. Allow yourself a setup budget to get your business started.
- Invest in the right tools. I used to try very hard not to spend money on tools. Now I'm quite happy to invest in tools that are going to save me time and make my life easier. Sometimes using the free version of something is excellent and will do (especially for the first years of your business). However, sometimes it's a bit like trying to do something with one hand tied behind your back! I'm not saying splash out on every tool out there. Use them for free first or make the most of the free trials but don't deny yourself the full bells and whistles of a product. If it saves you time, solves a problem, then it's worth the investment.
Get yourself professionally set up.
- Get insurance. There are many different types of insurance out there depending on what kind of business you have or whether you are a limited company or freelancer. Ask around for recommendations depending on your sector and industry.
- Make sure you're GDPR compliant. Get set up the right way right from the start. GDPR applies if you are processing personal data about people who live in the EAA (which means the UK will still be affected whether in the EU or not). No matter where you are based. Get a clear picture of the data you process; it's best to complete a data inventory, as described by the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). Start by downloading their checklists. Completing these checklists are a first step towards being compliant with GDPR. You must always be aware that as things change in your business, the kind of data you are processing may also change.
I work with marketers and business owners helping them to understand what alternatives there are out there when it comes to growing their business and see the opportunities. I want to demystify digital marketing so they can successfully market their business themselves.
I also want to support them to aim higher and earn more money.
Book a free call or join my free private Facebook group to find out more about how I can help you.