Are you thinking about starting your own business? Does something always get in the way? From insufficient funds to lack of experience, spending time with the kids, to the hours you dedicate to draining your brain in the nine-to-five job you already have; there’s always an excuse that prevents us from biting the bullet and taking the risk. More often than not, what really stops us in our tracks is our own feelings of self-doubt and the panging fear of failure.
What if it doesn’t work? What if I quit my job and can’t pay the mortgage? What if the stock market crashes and people don’t want to buy insert your product or service here anymore? While it’s good to be cautious, sometimes you just have to make a decision to be bold and live out your dreams, no matter how challenging they are. How about instead of focusing on the worst case scenario, you spend some time looking on the bright side? Here are some tips to help you run your own business successfully?
Visualize Your Success
Rather like eating our greens or quitting smoking, we hear so much about visualizing where we want to be and keeping our goals in sight, that we tend to forget that doing it really is good practice. Just as cigarettes won’t kill you overnight, that nasty habit you’ve gotten into is effectively killing you slowly; and the same thing is happening to your dream of flying solo every time you put your plans back on the shelf.
You’ve probably read The Secret, and if you haven’t, then you probably know more or less what it’s about. Whether you believe that you’re in control of your own destiny or not, visualizing your success is a powerful tool towards motivating yourself to get there.
Try to picture what you want your future work space to look like. Is it working from home? Think about where your desk will go. Is it becoming a yoga teacher? Think about the upholstery and mats you want in your studio. The more specific you can be, the better. Associating your goals with a tangible image makes them feel more real and therefore easier to reach.
Know What You’re Dealing With
Whatever line of business you want to go into, from copywriting to retail, real estate to gourmet cooking, make sure you check out the competition. Who else does what you do? Who does it the way you would like to? Who does it so badly that every time you go to their website you want to scream at all the mistakes they’re making? Find out how they do what they do, where, with whom, and when. Like a good business student, know your macro and micro environments as well.
Know the potential factors outside and inside of your control that could affect your business. Are there any laws that may cause a caveat? What about changes in technology? If you want to become a wedding photographer, for example, make sure you know the best way to deliver your clients your photos – most likely it isn’t on CD.
Use Your Research to Your Advantage
While it may seem fairly obvious, make sure that you act on the information you’ve acquired. There’s not much use in studying the pitfalls of your competition if you go ahead and fall into them yourself.
If you’ve already gone one step further and started experimenting with market acceptance for your product or service, then use the responses and feedback that you receive. If your testers suggest that the packaging could be more robust, then follow their advice. If you find that your service gets more usage at night, then make sure you adjust your offering accordingly. If you continually learn to mold your business around your customers, you’re aiming for long term success.
Use The Right Promotional Tools
While it’s true that social media has revolutionized the way we do business and your first port of call will more than likely be setting up a Facebook Page, remember that social media isn’t easy. With Facebook’s strict controls on business pages, it’s almost impossible to get presence without paying for it, and getting page likes isn’t akin to getting site visits; let alone actual buyers.
Make sure you learn the right promotional tools for your business and exploit the ones that work for you. Knowing who your customers are will make it easier to know how to reach them. If your customer base is local, then word of mouth, notice boards, magazines, and flyers may sound a little old fashioned but are probably the most effective. If your potential clients are international, make sure that you post your online promotions in their local currency, at the right time of day, and with the correct message localized to your target audience.
Be Sure to Delegate When You Can
Don’t let your new endeavor take over your life completely. Your partner, children, friends and family may be supportive at the start, but it won’t be long before they start to resent seeing your back as you type away on the computer, or watching the clock waiting for you to come home.
Just about anything can be done online these days, from getting someone to make sales calls to basic admin work, design, marketing, social media, and more. Check out services like Fancy Hands, and Upwork, and make sure that you lighten some of the load where you can.
Once you’re up and running and establish a core client base, don’t get complacent. While you may have the market sewn up, you always need to think about generating new business and how you can modify your product or service to appeal to different customers if you’re looking for long term success.
Sharpen your skills constantly; if you’re a personal trainer, make sure you know about the latest fads and fitness trends. If you’re a marketer, get up to date on Google’s latest requirements. Always stay one step ahead. The business world is constantly changing and you need to keep up the pace.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, try to keep your business and your personal life as separate as possible. It can be hard when you’re a small business owner and your products are piled high in the hallway, or your office is in your living room, but make an effort to set limits for yourself. Your family will appreciate it and your business will work better as well. There’s nothing like taking a break and coming back to a problem after a good night’s sleep or an hour of doing Pilates.