Ten things I’ve learnt from my first 8 months in business

Ten things I’ve learnt from my first 8 months in business

Ten things I’ve learnt from my first 8 months in business

Thinking of setting up your own business or just interested to know how a rookie began to find his way? If so please read on

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK: You will be aware of dozens of successful businesspeople, whether you know them well or are just familiar with what they do. It might be a contact, a friend, a friend of a friend, or someone who you have paid to work for you in the past and have been impressed by. The bottom line is that if you like what they do, ask for an hour of their time so that you can benefit from their wisdom. Offer to buy them lunch or breakfast and prepare your questions in advance so as to maximise the time you have with them. Most people, no matter how busy they are, will be flattered by your interest in them. It could be one of the best investments you’ll ever make and all you’ve got to lose is someone saying ‘no’!
  2. MAKE SURE YOUR CUP IS ALWAYS HALF FULL: Launching a new business is daunting but also exciting. There are bound to be times when you feel that things aren’t going quite to plan or moving as quickly as you’d hoped they might but it is crucial that you remain focussed on the goals you a have set yourself. Henry Ford’s famous quote “If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t do it, you are right” is never more appropriate than when you are starting out in business
  3. BE FAITHFUL: It’s tempting to spread your net far and wide in the early days but I decided that from day one, as soon as I’d secured a client in one particular specialism or industry, I’d promise not to work with anyone else in their sector, which they appreciated. This may not apply to everyone but for my area of expertise, it has been a key selling point.
  4. USE FREE MARKETING TOOLS: Twitter Facebook and Linked In etc… are manna from heaven for business start ups. A worldwide audience, huge resources, hundreds of staff working for you … and all for free. It constantly baffles me why some businesses just aren’t tuned in to the potential of social media.
  5. PAY FOR QUALITY: Your brand, your website and the tools you need to do the job will shape your destiny. Although it can hurt the wallet (or purse), pay for the best you can possibly afford when it comes to establishing your credentials. I used Optix Solutions for my web design and AB Design for my logos and other artwork. Both are based in Exeter and both are great to work with.
  6. CALL IN FAVOURS: No matter what you have done previously you will have no doubt done a few people a few favours. Don’t be afraid to call them in if it helps you get that first step on the ladder. This may be something as simple as testimonials or the use of a spare desk in an office. I’ve found that people who have established businesses get a real kick out of helping newcomers like me find their way.
  7. OFFER YOUR SERVICES FOR FREE: Although it may go against your instinct, there is no harm in doing some work for free… as long as you choose who you offer your time to carefully. Charities and schools in particular are crying out for support and, crucially, have a large number of contacts and a certain amount of influence. Offer them a day of your time to carry out an assessment, write a report or simply contribute to a particular project. The financial rewards may not be instant but I have found that you will usually be compensated somehow, some way.
  8. COLLABORATE: Join forces with like-minded people and businesses and help each other out. You’ll often find that what you do complements, rather than competes with those who you might have perceived to have been rivals and you can form a mutually-beneficial relationship.
  9. MAKE MISTAKES: When you learn to walk, you fall over and this is no different. If you want to learn how to stay on your own two feet quickly, be prepared to fail occasionally. Again, a Henry Ford quote springs to mind… “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Don’t be timid when it comes to trying things that may not work. The important thing is to learn when things go wrong and work out a way of ensuring the same thing doesn’t happen again.
  10. WORK HARD AND BE NICE TO PEOPLE: Enough said!