Running your own business can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do – but it will be one of the most challenging, too. You’ll need to be prepared to wear lots of different hats, to take the rough with the smooth and be prepared to work as hard as you’ve ever worked if you want to succeed.
So what will help you to hack it as an entrepreneur? Check out our ten top tips for success.
1. Make a plan
You probably already have a vision of what you want to achieve. A business plan will help you to break your vision down into achievable goals and ensure you have a strategy to follow right from the get-go.
2. Keep an open mind
Sometimes you have to change tack when you encounter an unexpected obstacle – being forced to find new premises, for instance. If you can stay flexible and think creatively, you’re more likely to weather the storms.
3. Know your strengths
If you can build a business that makes the most of the things you’re good at, you’ll enjoy the work and have a better chance at success. It also helps if you recognise those things that don’t fall within your area of expertise so you can delegate them to someone else.
4. Never stop learning
There won’t be a time when you know enough. By continually acquiring knowledge and expertise, you’ll open up fresh opportunities for growth and development – and you’ll be able to spot a winner when you see it.
5. Ask for help
Don’t expect to go it alone. Seek advice, accept help and look for mutually beneficial collaborations wherever you can. Bounce your ideas off people you trust to give you honest feedback and listen to what they have to say.
6. Watch your cash flow
It’s the most valuable asset you have, so don’t fritter it away. If your cash flow dwindles, check your gross margins aren’t too low or your overheads too high, that your payment terms aren’t overly generous or your billing procedures lax. Make it a priority.
7. Know your market
There’s no substitute for real-life research, so make it work for you. You’ll need to know who your audience is before you can sell to them (clue: it’s never anyone and everyone) so try to be as precise as you can.
8. Learn how to negotiate
Being a tough negotiator means you’ll have a better chance of protecting your cash flow and will help you turn a profit even in a tough economic climate, so always aim to get the best deal you can.
9. Be resilient
You will inevitably be faced with setbacks and disappointments along the way – it’s the nature of being in business. It’s important to keep your focus on working steadily towards your goals and to keep problems in perspective.
If you focus your efforts on how you can help your customers to be more successful, you’ll find yourself automatically shaping your business to deliver the kinds of products and services your customers really need, which will make you their supplier of choice.