When I first started my own small business, I had no idea what I was doing. Fresh from the pool, with absolutely no experience, I had never had a job, let alone run an entire business – I felt like I was drowning!
Looking back now, there are a few pieces of advice I wish that I had been given.
Tips and tricks that help bridge the information gap that currently exists between entrepreneurs and successful business management.
In their 2014 Business Barometer survey, First Class Accounts showed that 43% of small business owners struggle to find relevant advice when they’re starting out, with the general belief being that most of the available advice caters to larger companies, or that relevant information is difficult to find.
So, in an attempt to rectify this problem, together with First Class Accounts we have put together a list of ‘must dos’ and ‘must knows’ that I wish someone had told me thirteen years ago when I was starting out.
1) Create a business plan.
So many small business owners (myself included!) jump into business feet first with both eyes closed.
By creating a business plan, even a simple one, you ensure that you will be operating as efficiently as possible and avoiding unnecessary time wasting mistakes.
There are many excellent templates free online for business plans (go to www.firstclassaccounts.com/blog for links) so there is no excuse to not get one done!
It will take some time now, but is well worth it in the long run.
2) Get the right structure
There are a range of ways you can set up your business structure; from a sole trader to a company or Trust.
You need to seek professional advice for this as how you plan to remunerate yourself, what existing assets you have and how you plan to cash roll your business will all contribute to what structure would be best.
Getting it wrong initially can cost you in the future by incurring fees to change ownership structure later. An accountant is a good starting point for these decisions.
3) Get a book keeper
The most important and most difficult part of running your own business is keeping your finances in good shape.
You can have a fantastic product, a great location and a thousand customers a day, and yet, without someone who knows the ins and outs of bookkeeping, you can lose track of your finances and before you know it, your business will crumble.
Since I got involved with First Class Accounts I have been able to stop worrying about my books, and as a result have more time to concentrate on bettering my business. As well as this, they provide me with practical advice for my annual business plan (see tip #1!), as they can project what state my finances will be in for the coming year, allowing me to plan my budget accordingly.
4) Technology is your friend!
No matter what your business, there will be technology that will help make your life easier.
As well as this, customers expect a quality online experience from you, whether that be via a website, an online store or a social media presence.
Do your research into what is expected for your field, and if you don’t already have the skills, get educated.
Social media in particular is a fantastic, low cost opportunity for marketing, and is the first port of call for many customers looking for information on your business.
5) Reassess often
Reviewing different elements of your business regularly guarantees that your business is running as efficiently as possible.
The most vital area for frequent reassessment is definitely costs, as ultimately, this will determine if your business floats or sinks.
The First Class Accounts Business Barometer revealed 28% of business owners wanted assistance with their cash flow and this can be done by having regular conversations with your bookkeeper.
They can help you keep track of the effectiveness of spending, and with their advice and support you can make the changes needed to maximise efficiency.
It’s not just costs however- product range, location, HR and marketing strategies… just about every aspect of your business will benefit from regular evaluation and check ups.
6) Stop to smell the roses
Business ownership is hard, time consuming work. So, while I know it sounds contradictory, occasionally you need to stop and take a break.
Especially in these days of smart phones and internet when we are all constantly accessible, it is easy to get completely absorbed in your work.
Without the occasional break however, you will very quickly become exhausted, resentful, and your relationships will suffer.
As a working mum, I have had to work to find a balance between being a business owner and a Mum, as well as being a wife, a friend, an individual, plus all of the hundred other titles we take on in life.
It’s not always easy, but it means I still enjoy every role I fill.
So there you have it, my top tips for those considering business ownership. I hope they have been helpful, and make your venture into business ownership a little less daunting than mine was.