As an entrepreneur or first-time business owner, there is a whole suite of essential elements you need to know about – before you can power through and quit your day job. These elements are what will guarantee your business runs profitably and can support itself without pushing you into tough financial times — or insanity.
Take a look below at ten of our essential things to know before starting your own business. Keep in mind that many of these items seem more complex than they are, so don’t be disheartened if a few of these tips look alien to you. You’ll be able to understand and implement them pretty quickly.
Cash Flow and Profitability Are Number One
Of course, you can’t run a business without any money. Let’s start here. One of the first things to remember about starting a business is that the first few months to a year will be the most financially difficult, but don’t quit! This isn’t a sign of poor business skills, it simply takes this long to build your skills, consumer trust, and profitability.
Only start your business when you have a few ongoing clients. This way you’ll have money coming in and you’ll be able to afford the essentials. At this time, purchasing stationery and other accessories should be paused and all income should be reinvested into growing the business or put toward your bills.
Be Deliberate About Your Time
Too many new business owners focus all of their time designing their websites, ordering business cards and doing everything other than work. Make sure this isn’t you. To be successful you must be exceptionally deliberate about where you spend your time. If a task isn’t going to move you forward or make you money, don’t do it.
All of your time spent working needs to be directed toward client outreach, completing projects and ensuring you put out great quality work. These are essential to creating a solid business foundation and will ultimately lead you to success and they’re really not as hard as you think.
Contract Freelancers, Not Employees
When you first launch your business, you don’t need full-time or part-time employees to do you work for you. Hiring someone is expensive and, if you don’t have the income, they could bankrupt your business.
A great tip here is to only contract out work that is specialised and you’re not able to do on your own. If a client requires something technical that you’re not prepared to do, look toward a freelancer, not a full-time employee. This will give you the power to come through with a great result and a satisfied client, even if you didn’t do the task yourself.
Slash Non-Essential Expenses to Zero
In the beginning, you’ll be hit with the fact that money won’t come in as quickly as you thought it would. This isn’t a bad sign though, it’s actually completely normal, just be prepared. Make some lifestyle changes before starting your business to ensure you don’t quit due to unpaid bills or because you’re not able to splurge at the mall.
Keep business expenses low too. Invest in on-site storage before cloud storage, choose an affordable computer, and don’t overcapitalize on expensive business subscriptions. Just a few changes will keep you in the green and make your income go further.
Don’t Spend Your First Paychecks
This is a big one. When you get your first invoice paid, that money needs to be directed right into your bills and then your savings account. This is because, as a new business owner, you need to make your money work for you. You can’t hand off all profits to a shopping mall or cinema, they need to be invested into the business’s stability.
Ultimately you have to remember that you’re in this business for the long run and that requires some restraint on spending and reinvestment. You want to be sure that if there’s a dry spell, you’ll have the funds to power through it.
You’ll Need Business Connections
An effective way to expand your business is to connect with people. Head off to networking events and showcase your business’s results and what you can do for clients. This way you’re getting your name out there and if you market yourself correctly, you’ll have new clients coming through the door too.
Small Calculated Steps Are Fine
A lot of new business owners believe that in order to be successful, they have to make massive advancements each month or quarter. This is far from the truth and actually causes long and short-term damage. If you can get your business sustainably growing by just one percent each month, you’re heading in the right direction.
Small steps are totally fine to take, the most important thing is that you’re taking them. Instead of aiming to finish five big projects in a week, just aim for one. You’re still moving forward and that’s a great sign and something you should be proud of.
Don’t Forget Education
In the world of business, education is an absolute must. If you fall behind on the latest business management and marketing trends, you’ll be losing out to your competitors. This is where industry-related materials come in handy. Purchase a book on business growth, enroll in an online course or follow an expert online.
Learning anything relevant at all will keep you motivated and give you the knowledge you need to succeed.
You Have to Love What You Do
It’s no secret that people who are successful love what they do. You can’t expect to succeed and stay focused if you hate the projects you’re working on. That said, if you’re going to start your own business, you should certainly choose to do something that you love doing.
Loving your work makes the materials you put out look great, and makes you more efficient too. You’ll also notice keeping your clients happy comes naturally to you and, as a result, they’ll be coming back for more.
Let Go Of Control
Last but not least is learning to let go of control. In business, it’s impossible to micromanage and get everything done on the timeframe you expected yourself to. To have complete control over your business you’ll have to spend hours planning — and who says these plans will even work out?
The best way to make things work is to go with the flow, wait for ideas to naturally come to you and don’t rush projects to fit within a timeline. You don’t always need to be right, or in total control of your business and that’s okay, it’s part of the development process.