Starting a business is the most exhilarating and terrifying thing I have ever done. It’s difficult to appreciate the risks you are taking by walking away from a regular wage packet, but those risks can be worth taking providing you plan carefully, have determination and are prepared to go the extra mile there is no reason why you can’t succeed.
If you have made the decision to go ahead and start your own business, it is a great idea to find a mentor and learn from the experience of others as much as possible. While there is nothing like learning and experiencing things for yourself, free advice is always beneficial as it can help you to avoid some well-known pit falls that affect many start-ups in their first year.
- Let’s start with money, because without money coming in you risk losing your home and being unable to feed your family. I recommend you hold off starting your business until you have saved up three months’ worth of wages, because although you may already have interest from clients, you need to plan for rainy days. Your clients may not pay you on time, they may stop using your services and there could be times when you have no clients at all. A three-month base will give you something to dip into if you need to – just try to top it back up once the outlook improves.
- Taxes and accounting are two things you need to get a grip on right from the start. You’ll need a good record system of all the money that comes in and out of the business and it also gives off a more professional appearance if you send invoices and quotes using an effective system. It’s also important to store your accounts safely so backing up data is essential – I recommend using cloud accounting software as you can be sure that your accounts are easily accessed from multiple locations and devices as and when you need them.
- Become a master of your PC. When you work from home you’ll need to be able to fix minor problems on your laptop or computer quickly in order to avoid losing time or valuable data. Make sure you are prepared to learn how to use new types of software; how to back up and restore your computer and it goes without saying that a good anti-virus programme is essential. If you’re not proficient at using office software it’s a good idea to enrol in a short course to make sure you’re fully up to date.
- Embrace the internet as you can use it to market your business, meet new clients, stay in touch with regulars, build lead lists and more. The internet will be the base of your website and blog and you really need to make the most of all social networking sites. Even if you dislike social media on a personal level – you really do need to have a presence on the main ones such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Use the social networks to build links to your website, offer customer service and network with customers, suppliers, mentors and competitors.
- Know when you need to delegate. Many business owners will work outrageous hours during the first year this simply cannot be maintained. Many people choose to become self-employed to spend more time with family and yet find they are spending more time than ever stuck in the office. You need to decide how many hours you can manage and work hard not to do more than possible. If you’re working all the hours of the day and night just to make enough money, perhaps you aren’t charging enough for your services? Outsourcing is also a consideration if there is too much work and not enough hours.