Making mistakes is all part of the learning curve of running a business. Wading your way through the minefield of information is never an easy task. Unfortunately, the great idea you have for your business can be stunted before it grows just because you didn’t get the right advice or make the right decisions.
Being part of a networking group can boost your bottom line because of the referrals for new business, but it can also provide you with a range of expertise.
We asked a selection of business owners at a 1N Networking Meeting the best lessons they have learned in business. Here are some of their thoughts.
People love stories
Steve Bateman from Happy Spreadsheets said, “Share your business story”. Customers love to know the person behind the business and what makes you tick. Every business owner has a story worth telling. Share your values and your passion for your industry. When you have written your story, upload it onto your ‘About page’ on your website. Customers are driven to work with a business that shares their ethos and interests, making sure it captures attention. If your ‘About’ page just talks about the business, then rewrite this and share some information about you!
Outsourcing can be scary! Using a VA will free up time. Claire Bruynseels, owner of Avante VA, shared, “Let me focus on your £10 tasks so you can take on your £100 tasks” This is such valuable advice. Spend time on winning new clients and working on using your expertise. Outsource your bookkeeping, accounts, marketing, and admin tasks. There are so many tasks you can delegate. Keep a diary for a week of all the things you do. Then decide which of those tasks could easily be passed on to someone else. This will make you more productive and give you free time!
Never listen to friends and family!
Unless your friends and family run a business, they will not understand the challenges you face! So, when it comes to asking them about your business – be very wary! Friends and family should not be used as a sounding board for business advice or market research. People who care about you will not want to hurt your feelings by saying anything negative. So, they will more than likely tell you that your business idea is great, the branding and website looks impressive because they don’t want to upset you! Ask an expert – as your Mum or siblings will not give you valuable, reliable, sound advice. On another note, with our nearest and dearest, be cautious about doing work for friends or family. Offering mates rates is never a good idea. If you do decide to go ahead, then set very clear boundaries and expectations.
Build a broad customer base.
Never rely on one customer! Make sure you have a diverse mix of clients, as depending on the income from one customer can spell business disaster. If that customer leaves, then you will be back to the start. So, work hard to build your business with a portfolio of customers and get help from others if you need to manage your workload.
Know your Worth
It is tempting to start your prices very low to gain new customers. But it is not a great strategy to employ. Often start-up businesses do not understand their market value because they haven’t done their research properly. Spend some time calling other companies in the same industry in your locality. Find out the prices they are charging, and then build a pricing structure that feels right for you. Spend time with your accountant discussing your pricing and understanding your numbers. Consider what added value you can offer instead of offering discounted prices. Ensure you have good profit margins after considering your costs. Remember you need to pay yourself, otherwise your business is an expensive hobby!
Understand your customer
Yiannis Charalambous from LVM, who arranges car and van leasing, shared, “Customers do not always know what they want or need” You need to ask lots of qualifying questions to really ensure your product or service is suitable for your customer. Qualifying questions are the route to business success because they save time. Hubspot has a great list here of questions you can ask prospective clients.
Business is a team sport.
If you are a solopreneur, find your team! Jen Hinds, MD of 1N Networking highlights the reasons why a network is so essential “ Working alone is tough, finding a group of people who can support and champion you each week and provide you with valuable expertise will reap rewards”.
Make sure you research networking groups carefully and find what works for you. Check out Business Networking for Dummies by Stefan Thomas. This book is a valuable resource about networking and packed with tips on networking successfully. Building a great network will help your business succeed. Remember your network is your net worth!
Never Give Up
Running a business can be challenging. The unexpected twists and turns of the past 18 months have taught us that we need to be agile and able to adapt quickly as business owners. You need to develop a thick skin when running a business, learn not to take things personally. Set yourself goals and congratulate yourself when you achieve them. Stay positive and always know difficult times will pass.
The lessons you learn in business help make you stronger. When starting a business, remember all established business owners once walked in your shoes. Being successful in business relies on your learning from mistakes, taking advice, and moving forward.
For information and advice about the accounting side of running your own business, please contact the team here at D&K Accounting.