Regardless of the industry you’re in, starting your own business is a journey riddled with challenges. Read our top tips for building a solid foundation upon which to grow your business.
Networking is vital, but not in the way you think
Most small business owners are given the same piece of advice by friends and family: try networking. They go to one or two events, feel awkward and unsuccessful, and then give up networking altogether. Networking events can be uncomfortable, particularly because most people go into them with the mindset ‘what can someone else do for me?’ With that thought in mind, it’s common for small business owners to specifically target people within their own industry and quickly steer the conversation towards themselves.
Instead, try educating yourself more broadly and make connections across all industries. Approach the situation with a ‘what can I do for other people?’ mindset. Not only will this make networking functions more comfortable and enjoyable, but this approach will set you up with real, long-lasting business connections, offer fresh perspectives, and potentially open doors you hadn’t even considered.
Managing your money: don’t make finances an afterthought
There’s a fine line between being financially responsible and being financially restrictive. When starting out, being overly restrictive with money can be as damaging as overspending, particularly if you’re restricting your budget on marketing activity or tools that are vital to your business. Give yourself permission to buy products and services that are high-quality, but only if they’re essential to your company’s growth.
As a general rule, any business should aim to save at least 15% of their earnings after GST and tax. Be proactive with your accounting: keep receipts and use mobile apps, specialist software or Excel spreadsheets to do your bookkeeping and budgeting.
Social media: use it or lose out
Getting the word out about your new small business used to require extensive word of mouth and a lot of money. These days, you can set up Facebook and Instagram pages and connect them both to a Business Manager account within a few hours. From there you can start running low-cost ads, scheduling posts, connecting with your target customers, receiving valuable feedback, and spreading the word with a click of a button.
Be sure to use visually-appealing photos. Original content is best, but stock images can also be useful. Websites like Unsplash and Pexels offer a great range of stock images free of charge. When writing captions be sure to use a tailored writing style that’s personal and on-brand so your readers and followers can connect with your product or service.
Embrace failures fast: learn and move on
When something goes wrong in the early days it can feel like a major failure. When small business owner Abigail Crompton of Third Door Down had just launched her ecommerce store, the online shopping cart function crashed. It felt like a massive failure and Abigail felt out of her depth and unable to fix the problem. But then Sarah Jessica Parker called her directly from New York to enquire about a purchase that she was unable to complete online. Now SJP is a valued long term customer who visits Abigail’s retail store in Melbourne whenever she’s in town.
Starting your own business is chaotic and stressful, but try not to catastrophise small speed bumps. If you have a great product or service and keep clear, calm and open communication with your clients, those ‘failures’ can turn out to benefit you in the long run.
Staying motivated: find the technique that works for you
When starting your own business – especially if you’re the sole member of your own company – constantly generating motivation is easier said than done. Successful small business owners credit a wide range of tactics to staying motivated, including weekly goal mapping, listening to inspirational podcasts, interacting with other entrepreneurs, and even getting eight hours of sleep. No matter what works for each individual, it’s important to incorporate regular practices into your routine to stay motivated and focused.