If there is one thing I have learnt over many years working in lots of different fields, it is that there are some things that are absolutely consistent. When starting a new chapter in life, some lessons need to be learnt but they can be made easier with a little sage advice. The following is hardly an exhaustive list of tips for young and growing businesses - but they are my most consistently offered guidance.
Believe in yourself. Knowing that you can do this, will make all the difference. If you truly want to do this, you will make it happen, you will find a way and you will overcome all the obstacles that will get in your way. Believe in your business - it is worth the right people's time and attention. Don't let your self-confidence get in the way of taking your business forward.
2 Be Realistic
Building a sustainable business takes time, there is no magic button to push to be successful. It takes longer than you expect to get to where you want to be, but that shouldn't stop you from dreaming big.
3 Growing is painful
Every step of the way is going to present challenges and discomfort. Accept this and change becomes a lot easier to deal with. Every business goes through growing pains, yours will be no exception. Think of it positively. What worked last year may well not get the results this year – be objective about your business and let it grow where it needs to.
4 You will make mistakes
Everyone does, they are an inevitable part of life, let alone business. Mistakes don’t make you a failure but refusing to learn from them will. Every mistake is an opportunity to get stronger and better. Use them positively and you will flourish.
5 Price according to value
What you sell has a value to your customers and that rarely, if ever, equates to cost of time, overheads and materials plus a bit. The “plus a bit” will never give you the flexibility to grow nor the peace of mind to take your foot off the pedal (See 10). Invest in your business with a price that reflects value and market position, because what you are offering is more than the sum of its parts.
6 Show your customers how much you care
No customers, no business. Go the extra mile to show your customers how important they are. Do what you can to make them feel valued and connected. Talk to them, listen to them, learn from them.
7 Get the basics right
Invest in the basics, the fundamentals, the essentials - and the rest becomes a lot easier. Preparing for the doing will get you better results, put you in a stronger position and help you build a sustainable business. Plan to do, but make sure you get doing even if you aren’t ready. Nothing will ever be perfect and that’s ok, you will learn what works and what doesn’t as you go.
8 Get out there
Roll up your sleeves and meet people, show them what you offer and smile a lot. Networking is essential because people buy from people, it’s a trust thing. Word of mouth recommendations beat any other referral hands down. The more connections you make, the stronger your business will become.
9 Take Risks
Don’t look back and say what if. Be brave and take some risks. Yes, you might fail, but what will you learn in the process that will make you stronger? Some of the best destinations are on the toughest routes.
10 Enjoy the ride
Take time for you. Get off the hamster wheel every now and then. Your business needs you in tip top form, not slumped in an exhausted heap. Yes, you have to work hard and no, there is no magic formula for success but leave room for you to enjoy, relax and switch off. Remember, you are master of your own destiny. Embrace it and enjoy every moment of it. You did this because you wanted freedom, control, flexibility.... Don’t let your business own you. Own your life and make your business a fun part of it. Soon you will be raising to toast to a successful business and you will have earned it.