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Here is a collection of 10 of our all-time best pieces of advice to help you make it as an entrepreneur.
1.Have a solid business plan
Planning plays a crucial role in any business success. A business plan is a good place to start. Defining your skills and weaknesses, what you offer, how it’s unique and how you plan on growing your offering. What’s more, try to prepare yourself mentally and practically for anything that could go wrong and how you would deal with it. For example, what happens if you get injured? What if clients pay you a month late? What if a weather disaster affects you? Or a trusted supplier goes bankrupt?
2. Prepare for financial challenges
Many small businesses start-ups find that cash flow is by far their biggest challenge. Deal with cash flow blows by saving for a month’s worth of expenses or by getting creative with how you lower your overheads.
You could offer clients a discount if they pay a deposit or the full amount upfront, or even an incentive, e.g. pay 10% less if you deliver your product or service a week earlier. Whatever you do, be extremely careful of debt. This is one of the biggest killers of small business success.
3. Be frugal – remember you’re a start-up
Resist the temptation to splash out on fancy offices, expensive equipment and over-the-top marketing. Your company’s livelihood depends on what’s in your wallet so balances must be triple-checked. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There are many resources out there for networking, knowledge sharing and advice. Networking is not just for new business opportunities; it can be a wonderful source of support and fresh ideas. Attend events. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from those around you (such as your intermediary, bank manager, landlord or neighbouring businesses), or online forums and Facebook community groups in your area.
5. Put your faith in a trusted mentor
It can be a family member, former boss or colleague or even a trusted online source or blog. A mentor is an invaluable sounding board, someone who’s been where you are; someone with whom you can have regular, non-judgmental check-ins. Many new entrepreneurs say that finding a mentor had a significantly positive impact on their businesses.
6. Marketing on a shoestring budget
Marketing your new business is extremely important but doesn’t have to cost the earth. Social media is your friend, creating your business page on Facebook is free and will help your online search ranking. So is submitting your website URL to search engines like Google, it’s completely free.
Also, keep an eye out for community Facebook groups, some will require a small advertising fee while others allow you to advertise your business on certain days of the week. The bottom line with marketing is to try anything and everything. You won’t know what will work for you until you try it.
7. Look after number one
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, the days of 9-to-5 are over. That’s not saying that you must work yourself into the ground. Exercise regularly, eat healthily and find the time to relax or you’ll end up being less productive. Working on your time management skills will help you clear enough time in your day to spend with loved ones.
8. Build a team that shares your vision
Great people make a great company. As your business grows, you might need to hire staff. Firstly, take the time to interview people thoroughly to ensure that they fit your culture and share their values. Secondly, it can be hard to let go but it’s important to learn how to delegate tasks. Finally, don’t expect people to be your clones. Be open to new opinions and suggestions. It’s always good to get fresh perspectives on old ways of working.
9. Never stop learning
Starting your own business is a constant process of growth and learning. It’s important to enrich yourself with both practical and emotional skills. Take a look at free or low-cost e-learning resources.
Sharpen your project or time management skills, learn a new software programme or teach yourself how to run your own social media campaigns. You can also work on your management, presentation and motivational skills. If you travel a lot, podcasts and things like TED talks are great ways to inspire and educate yourself.
10. Safeguard your venture
The best entrepreneurs don’t seek risk, they seek to mitigate risk. Small business insurance is one of the best ways to look after your livelihood, and it’s more affordable than you think. Make sure that your precious stock and premises are covered in an emergency such as a fire or theft.
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