I run a small company and people often ask me how easy it is to set up a business. The answer to that is: simple. All you actually have to do is come up with a business name, log onto Companies House and register it. There, job done.
What these people should really be asking me is ‘how easy is it to RUN your own business?’ Because the answer to that is: tricky. Anyone with a business idea and a couple of hundred quid can set up a business, but keeping it going is another matter entirely – that takes hard work and determination. So my advice? Here goes:
- Understand that running your own business is going to be the ONLY thing you talk about/think about/breathe for/dream about, for the foreseeable future. If you are doing it properly then you really should throw yourself hook, line and sinker into it. That way, if it fails (which it won’t if you do things correctly) then at least you don’t have a lack of commitment to blame.
- You are more likely to achieve point 1 if you set yourself up in business doing something you really like. Love it if you can, but liking what you do is good enough. That way when you are putting in the hours, you won’t mind so much because you are doing something you actually enjoy.
- Whilst taking point 2 into consideration, you must also think about whether your business is going to be of use to other people. Ok so you may love your business idea to bits, but is there actually a call for it? No point trying to sell something that no one wants. Do your research, find a gap in the market, find an angle, tap up the kind of people who you wish to sell to and find out if your product or service is actually needed in the world.
- Once you have a business that you are going to enjoy and actually has a chance of making some money, work out who else you need to bring on board. Assuming that you can do it all doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do it all RIGHT. If your weakness is ‘doing the books’ then let someone else take care of it for you – an Accountant or Bookkeeper may just feel like an added expense, but having their input is key because not only can they save you sleepless nights worrying about taxes, bills, wages, invoices etc etc (and trust me there are a lot of etc’s) but they can also save you a bob or two here and there that you probably didn’t even realise you could.
- Network with like-minded people. I always thought that going to a network event would see me quaffing pate, smoking cigars and stealing a Mercedes just so that I could turn up in a decent car. The reality however is very different. Networkers aren’t there to compare bank balances, they are there to learn a thing or two, share their own experiences and give advice. How very useful.
- Being rule savvy is an absolute must. You do not want your business to get hauled over the coals because you haven’t declared this or paid that. Keep an ear to the ground about all legislation relevant to small businesses and adapt if you need to. Again, if you have an Accountant on board then listen to their advice about all things financial, and get onto HMRC for their advice on all other matters.
- Believe you can do it. I have a friend who is a designer but won’t take the plunge into starting her own company because she doesn’t believe she is good enough. People with only half the ability that she has are making a go of it, so why can’t she? You need to have the confidence in what you do – believe in yourself and others will too.
So, to sum up; in order to run your own business you need a bit of grit and determination, a pool of people who can support you, and a belief in your product or service. Don’t think that it will be an easy ride, but just keep a sensible head on your shoulders, learn from others as you go along and above all, enjoy it.