Entrepreneur 101 – If only I had known

Filed in Blog by on January 24, 2014 4 Comments

So The Flourishing Business is now a year old and I am a year wiser.  As I go into this new year full of hope and enthusiasm that the seeds I planted last year will flourish there is a part of me that wishes I could rewind and do the first year all over again but knowing what I know now.

So I wanted to share with you 10 things I learnt:

 

1.  Everything takes longer than you expect

Even when a client says yes they want to go ahead it may still be weeks or months before they actually do so you always need to be feeding the pipeline with new opportunities.  Even a sure thing can fall at the final hurdle so have plenty in reserve.  I learnt this the hard way and not only does it cause problems with cash flow it can seriously affect your motivation.

2.  You will not succeed until you put your head above the parapet

As much as you kid yourself that all those nice safe activities you are doing in the comfort of your office are vital to your business success you will only really make any headway when you get out there and start selling your business. Sure it’s scary and boy do you feel vulnerable but it’s also pretty exciting and without vulnerability there’s no growth.  The trick is to sell in a way which feels authentic to you and makes full use of your strengths.

3.  Be clear on your vision

Running your own business means that you are responsible for everything and pretty soon you find that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, not to mention the fact that it’s exhausting.  So you need to be really clear on why you started the business in the first place so you remain motivated and you can decide which activities are worth doing and which aren’t.  It is really easy to fill your day with activities that are not related to delivering your vision at all.  See my earlier post ‘A simple idea that might just change your life’ 

4.  People lie at networking events!

O.k. maybe lie is too strong a word so let’s be generous and say people exaggerate at networking events.    So don’t start panicking if everyone you speak to starts telling you how busy they are.  Success attracts success so everyone plays the game and does their best to appear successful, even if it means bending the truth.   When I first started networking I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, “why was everybody else so successful and I was struggling to get business?”  I soon learnt the rules of the game and I now know to take it all with a pinch of salt.

5.  The clock is ticking all the time

It can be quite a difficult mental transition from being employed to self-employed or it certainly was for me.   The quicker that you grasp the idea that you are an entrepreneur now and every minute of your time has a value on it the better. You either choose to spend your time in ways that earn you money or in ways that cost you money, those really are the only choices.  I work from a home office and I work in an industry that is people-focused and by nature I love to help people so there were lots of opportunities for distractions and to be honest I got distracted quite a lot. The wake-up call came for me when I did the books and didn’t like what I saw.

6.  Helping others is the way to success

Looking back over the year all of my business has come from people I either know directly or have come to me because I have helped somebody they know.  It is as true as ever that people buy from people and they buy from people they like and trust.  So help people as much as you can because not only are you helping others to succeed in the short term but you will be  helping yourself in the long term.  People will remember you and for all the right reasons.

7.  Take time spending your money

It is really easy when you start a new business to spend money like water.  You are so enthusiastic and keen to get everything off to a good start that you jump right in before you even really know what you need.  Slow your purchasing decisions down – question whether you really need to buy it now and are you going to make full use of it.  If you can’t answer yes to both questions don’t buy it.  Start small, start affordable and you can easily upgrade once you outgrow what you have.  And of course always, always track the money and stay on top of your accounts.

8.  Don’t devalue what you do

It is really easy to get into a situation with a client whereby you start cutting prices.  If you do this then you are moving the client’s attention away from the value that you bring, the reasons why they should be prepared to pay you what you are worth and turning it into a commodity sale.  There will always be somebody who can undercut you and if you get into a bidding war all you are doing is driving prices downwards.  If you are looking to establish strong, sustainable relationships with clients then you have to talk to your client in terms of the value you deliver. If the client doesn’t value what you do maybe they aren’t the client for you.  It is o.k. to walk away from business.

9.  Be energized and follow your strengths

O.k. maybe it’s not a surprise that as a strength’s practitioner I would say this but that doesn’t stop it being true. There are no short cuts in business, it takes hard work to be successful just like everything else.  However, you are much more likely to keep going if you are doing something that you find enjoyable or interesting and you are good at it.  It was no surprise to me that the things I consistently did throughout the year revolved around my strengths.  So if something really isn’t your strength then team up with somebody else who can do it for you. There may be a cost involved but they will do it quicker and to a higher standard than you ever will. And remember No.5 above – your time is money. So spend your time on the areas where you can really deliver high value.

10.  Put the effort in and magic happens but not necessarily in the way you expect!

What I can see as I look back over the year is that the times when amazing things happened were all times when I was very focused on my vision, there was lots of activity, I was using my strengths to the full and I was really energized and enjoying life.  It was at these times that clients unexpectedly appeared or I was introduced to a great contact or an opportunity fell in my lap.  The results were not always the ones I expected but they were good ones. Conversely when I lost sight of my vision, I became demotivated, distracted and I really struggled.  So my guiding philosophy for 2014 is focus.

I hope that you can benefit from my experience and avoid some of the pitfalls that slowed me down.  I would love to hear if you have had a similar journey or what advice you would like to pass on.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Martin White says:

    Hi Tina,
    Just to say that I think that this is a very good piece. You have distilled your experience succinctly and precisely, which is not easy to do. I agree with it all, but it’s still good to read something so well expressed.

    • Hi Martin, Glad you enjoyed it. Is there anything you learned in the early days of setting up your business that you would like to pass on?

      • Martin White says:

        I don’t think that I can add anything particularly insightful. I would say that your points 1, 2, 4, 8 and 10 are the ones that ring truest and loudest, and of those, 2 is the most crucial – you will not succeed until you stick your head above the parapet.

  2. Great advice Tina. As always!
    I have learned patience as you mention, and never give up on a client, they will appear when they are ready!

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