Mind your own business

Business woman

Work for yourself

Do you ever get the feeling youre destined to work for yourself?  Do you have this strong urge deep inside you to express yourself freely in the world?  Maybe youve received an idea of a product or a service you just know will work.  You can see it all so clearly and you feel it in every cell of your body.  You cant stop thinking or talking about this amazing idea. Well the truth is, we receive ideas and inspiration everyday and only a few ever take the chance to explore if its possible to bring their ideas into reality.

 Doing what you love

And that is how it all starts.  Any business that exists now has been created from some ones exciting new idea, from their passion and drive to turn their dream into a reality.  When we do what we love, time becomes irrelevant and we end up totally absorbed in what we are creating. Energy is poured into this new venture until it begins to take on a life of its own.  Then comes probably the hardest part of the process, which is moving the idea to an actual product or service that can be sold to others.

Keys to success

When a rocket is about to take off it burns its largest amount of energy at the point of lift off.  Once its up and heading to outer space it has the momentum created at lift off to move it towards its goal.  Starting up a business is similar, it takes an enormous amount of energy to get lift off and one of the keys to success is never, never, never give up because just when youre ready to walk away it will take off if you have laid your foundations and followed some key tips. 

Why you should go into business for yourself:

  • Freedom “ to create products or services that are meaningful for to them such as environmentally friendly products
  • Lifestyle “ the ability to be flexible with your work hours
  • Financial “ without a glass ceiling your earning potential is unlimited
  • Satisfaction “ in doing what you love using the skills and experience you have developed throughout your career

Getting started – an essential guide

First things first, get really clear about what you want to do.  Once youre clear on what you want to do then creating an action plan around how to get there becomes a lot easier.  A clear vision of your goal will also help to keep you focused when challenges come up and believe me, they will come up.  The importance of a good action plan, also known as a business plan, will highlight the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

Research

You could start by doing some research.  Have a look at what else is being offered in stores or by other service providers.  Where are they selling their products and for how much?  Who would make your products or do you make them yourself?  Where do you get the materials to make them from?   Keep the information you gather somewhere you can refer back to when it comes time to making decisions about your own business.

Survey

Also, talk to your family and friends, share with them your idea and be open to their feedback.  You could create a survey that you ask people to fill in.  Some of the questions to include would be about the type of product or service youll be offering.  Would they buy it?  How much would they pay for it?  What colours or styles would they be interested in?  What kind of outlet would buy it from?  Have they seen anything like it before, if so, find out the details so you can see what your potential competitors are offering.  You might like to set yourself a target number of people to survey to give you a clear picture on how interested people are.  Try to survey people you think would be your ideal customer it will give you an insight into what they are looking for.

Know your ideal customer

Once youve got an idea on what product or service youd like your business to offer, think about who your ideal customer is.  Think about what they do in their lives, for example: 

How old are they? 

Do they work or study? 

Where do they live? 

What kind of media do they watch or interact with? 

What are they reading or watching? 

Whats important to them?  For example family, environment

The more information you have on your ˜ideal customer, the easier it will be to attract them through your marketing.

So what is marketing?

Basically, marketing is about understanding your customers needs and knowing how to communicate your products and services to them in a way that grabs their attention.  For example, sending an SMS to a 21 year old woman informing her of a sale at her favourite fashion outlet is going to be much more likely to bring her into the store during the sale then sending her a letter in the mail two weeks before the event. 

There are many forms of marketing and with technology new marketing techniques are continuing to evolve.  Our customers demands are constantly changing and its essential to stay informed so you stay ahead of the rest.  Viral marketing is just one example that shows how technology can be used for marketing.   A great example is the Evian Roller Babies.  It featured on YouTube and the link was sent via email around the world as people shared it with family and friends, not to mention posting it on their Facebook walls.  It wasnt just the video clip that fabulous to watch.  Evian also created a number of other videos to keep people talking including a video on the making of the clip, another on interviewing the babies and more.  This marketing strategy brought Evian loads of free publicity and brand awareness, both of which lead to an increase in sales.

5 common reasons small businesses fail

Lack of planning:  Research, research and research.  Its much cheaper and less stressful to research your business idea before you borrow money or invest all your hard earned savings and it not work out.  Some research you can do includes surfing the net, creating surveys for potential customers, learning about what and how your potential competitors are doing business and understanding who your suppliers are. 

Not understanding money: Money is seen as a taboo subject in our society and yet it is the one thing can make or break a business.  The two main areas money that can impact on a business the greatest are: Start up cash: This includes planning for the costs to start up the business and a minimum of six months expenses to keep the business running.  If youre planning on working 100% in the business from the time you start, its important that you can support yourself financially too.  If you are approaching a bank for financing they will ask you about how you plan to support yourself financially whilst establishing the business. Cash flow: This is the flow of money moving in and out of your business.  Getting up close and personal with this flow as it moves in and out of yobusiness will empower you to make clear day to day decisions about your business as it grows.

Business owner burnout “ when you love what you do you just keep going.  And as any small business owner knows, you wear many hats.  So doing it all falls onto your shoulders.  Time management will help you get organised and prioritise what to focus on first, eliminating the need to do everything at once.  Also ask for help if you need it.  It may be from a mentor or family member, its also a chance for you to learn new ways of approaching things. 

Its really important to look after yourself.  Without your energy and vitality the business wont make it.  Be sure to eat well, get adequate sleep, exercise and have fun.  Spend time with your family and friends away from the business doing the things you love.  We are most creative when were not stressed out.

Ineffective marketing: Marketing is essential to drawing in new customers.  Theres no point to having the doors open but not telling anyone what you do.  Plan your marketing strategy out for six to twelve months and allow enough time to get organised, for example, if you have an add you would like to put into a particular publication, find out when the ad details are due and organise your artwork to be completed by then.  If you take the time to plan it out your marketing strategy will hopefully be a painless process.

Also, when marketing, as there are so many different ways to market a business, keep a track of what you do, when and what kind of response is created.  If you send out birthday cards to your loyal clients enticing them to come in for a birthday treat and there is an increase of sales as a result, understanding how much of an increase will help you when it comes time to plan your next six to twelve months marketing plan.  There is no point spending money on marketing activities that didnt work the first time round.

Not understanding your customers needs:  Happy customers equals a happy business.  The easiest way to do this is to speak to them.  If you are unable to speak to them when they are visiting your business, call them.  Theyll appreciate you taking the time to contact them and to find out if they were happy with the service or products they received.  It helps to build your relationship with them and gives you valuable insight into how things are working in your business and any opportunities to grow on.

Besides your customers, speak to your staff.  Your customers may have made comments to them which they can share with you or maybe your staff have an idea on how to do things better.  Always be open to hearing what your staff or customers have to say, its empowering to have the knowledge and then be able to investigate further before making decisions on any changes.

5 hot tips to your successful business:

Planning – get clear on where you want your business to go and have an action plan on how to get there.  It also helps you to recognise success as you achieve your goals and then be sure to celebrate them. 

Research “ keep up to date with what is happening in your industry, know what your competitors are doing, look for new opportunities and ways you can grow both professionally and personally.  And learn about money, remove any fear you may have around handling it.

Understand your customers “ they are the key to your businesses success.  If you understand them and learn how to keep them happy your business is bound to thrive.

Time management “ learn ways to maximise your time during business hours to help balance your life.  Allow for time to work on the business and in the business.  Finish tasks you start.  And look after yourself, if you can stay happy and healthy you will have more energy to put into your business.

Support network “have people around you who believe in you.  Surround yourself with people who inspire you to grow and who have the knowledge and experience to show you the way.  There are many networking groups around with plenty of people who have been where you are and who will support you, you just need to ask for help.

Going into business for yourself is one of the greatest challenges you can take on.  It needs a clear vision of your goals, dedication to making it happen, passion for what you do and a lot of time and energy to get it started.  Be patient and persistent with yourself and the birthing process, it takes time to bring an idea into the physical world.  Besides the challenge, growing a successful business can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever experience!  Enjoy the journey…

Rebecca Levy runs Leading Business With Heart and is offering a free 30 minute consultation for anyone who signs up for her newsletter.  Contact her on:

e: rebecca@leadingbusinesswithheart.com.au 
m:  0414 749 968  
w: www.leadingbusinesswithheart.com.au

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Authors Website: http://omigoddess.com.au

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