Of course, there’s no single, right way to run a business, so no perfect instruction manual exists. (If it did, everyone would be working for themselves!) However, here are six key tips to help make your entrepreneurial journey smoother. These lessons were all learned over time, sometimes as a result of a decision that probably shouldn’t have made. But in the spirit of this generous community, you can avoid learning the hard way by taking these points to heart as you create the business of your dreams.
1. Follow your passion, no matter what. You probably decided to build your business around something you’re passionate about. Problem is, sustaining that passion for the long haul, especially in the face of ongoing challenges and obstacles, can be hard.
Fuel your commitment daily by reminding yourself why you started your business in the first place. Stay focused on your passion – often, it’s your burning desire to solve a problem or a need you’ve identified. If your first solution doesn’t work, don’t worry. Reconnect with your passion for solving the problem and keep searching for a better answer.
2. Create a rock-solid business plan. Running a business is an art and a science. The art is your passion. The science is your business model. It may seem obvious, but you need to understand your business plan better than anyone else! No detail is too minor, especially when it comes to understanding the finances. Knowing your “money-in, money-out” situation is critical to business success. Bottom line: Understand how your business is doing at every moment, in real-time, so you can make smart, informed decisions.
3. Communicate with partners. A business partner who complements your expertise and skill-set can be like rocket-fuel to your business growth. If you decide to join forces with someone, be prepared to nurture the relationship like you would a marriage, with clear, open communication about values and expectations. Want to take things one step further? Get ahead of potential pitfalls or misunderstandings by saying “yup” to a business “prenup.”
4. Hire smart. As a small business owner, you know you can do just about anything – but you can’t do everything! The sooner you recognise your areas of weakness (or, sometimes, your lack of interest), the faster you can find someone who truly loves doing your least favourite task (payroll, anyone?). But don’t rush to hire – you’ll be glad you took the time to find the right person for the job. Things aren’t working out? Fire quickly, and move on.
5. Protect yourself from the unexpected. In a small business, as in life, things happen that you just can’t control. If you can anticipate roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared to navigate around them. For example, set up systems and processes that allow you to step away from your business if you need to (think flu, sick kids or a much-needed vacation!) without everything falling apart. Remember, your business health is directly related to your own health, so take steps to ensure you can take care of yourself, too.
6. Work for yourself, not by yourself! As a small business owner, it can be lonely making all of the decisions. Everyone knows starting a business is challenging (and awesome!), and many people will be happy to support you any way they can. I hope you won’t ever hesitate to ask for help.
Some of your most valuable resources are other entrepreneurs. Find like-minded people (yes, there are plenty in this community!) who know what you’re going through. Maybe they’re a few years ahead of you. Maybe they’re just starting out. It doesn’t matter. Being part of a smart, supportive small-business network will help you when you need information, inspiration or just a word of encouragement.
It really does make all the difference