10 Things I wish I knew when I started my own Business
In essence, I’m a corporate refugee. After a thrilling and very busy corporate career of more than 12 years, I started-up my ‘own thing” a few years ago. As an independent business consultant, coach and business owner, I’m following my passion to help other businesses and executives become more successful – and yes, I continue to do work for selected corporate clients, but on my terms. Life as a business owner has been interesting to say the least, but there are a number of things I wish I knew when I started out on my own – things would have been easier if I did!
Let me share my list (some things I knew of, but never realised the importance):
1. Passion is paramount! Whatever you do in business or in life, try to do something that you are passionate about. This provides the energy and inspiration to get up and go every day (and keep going). Whatever you do, DO IT with passion, energy and enthusiasm and you will naturally attract opportunities in your business. Find your passion (what you love) and purpose (your natural talents, gifts and skills) and stay connected to it!
2. Without ACTION, nothing happens. OK, now this sounds obvious, but it is scary how we can delay our own success and progress by procrastination. A great idea, plan or suggestion means nothing (and generates no revenue) if no explicit ACTION is taken.
3. Your relationships will pull you through. Strong and authentic interpersonal relationships really make a difference. When the going gets tough, you can tap into a network where you are known, liked and trusted. You can ask for advice, find business opportunities or find ways to collaborate, bearing in mind that you also need to give back in the relationship. Despite all the technological advances and opportunity for virtual social networking, face-to-face, personal contact, is still be best way to build authentic relationships. I try to maintain contact with most people I’ve dealt with in my professional career and still get referrals from people I might not have worked with for more than 10 years!
4. You cannot do it all on your own. . I’m a DIY type of business woman. I like to try or figure things out before I delegate or outsource it. This has not always been the best approach for my business, as I could have leaped ahead much quicker, had I taken on a business and marketing coach earlier in my independent career. I still like to try and experiment with things myself, but have learned that I get things done much quicker when I’m supported by a strong team and network. I use the services of virtual assistants, a web designer, graphic designer, bookkeeper and more to improve my efficiency and effectiveness. I have regular contact with my life coach, I link into at least two business and marketing masterminds, and I participate in business and professional networking forums.
5. Things usually take longer than planned or expected. I am quite an optimist and tend to generate ideas fast and furious, BUT in reality, the implementation is not always as easy. Regardless whether it is starting up the business, implementing a new growth strategy, ramping up business, creating a website or launching a new product or offering, it usually takes longer than expected. I’ve learned to build in extra time for my business projects and have fun during journey – no use beating myself up!
6. Walk your talk. You cannot expect to attract top-notch clients if you and your business are not a reflection of what you claim to represent or are offering your clients! You need to ‘walk your own talk’. This also implies that you need to INVEST in your business to have the right image, professional tools and infrastructure. You cannot expect clients to invest in your services if you are not willing to invest in your business and professional offerings.
7. You need to be resilient. We all make mistakes from time to time and will most definitely experience setbacks. We need to be OK with it and learn how to bounce back, rather than blame-shifting or beating ourselves up. Every set-back presents an opportunity – you just need to step out of the detail to see the big picture.
8. Perfection can paralyze you. I personally set high standards and like to have things in my particular way. This has not always been a good thing – I would actually end up spending too much time and effort to get to the ‘perfect” solution, without getting any additional financial benefit. It is also called Perfection Paralysis – MUST be avoided at all times!
9. More qualifications do not necessarily mean more business. I’m giving it to you straight – to grow your business, you need to grow and develop yourself, BUT, unfortunately many people think that this can only be achieved with an additional formal qualification. Unless an additional formal qualification is essential to conduct your business (such as a tax practitioner, accountant or medical professional), you need to carefully consider your options. A brand new qualification does not automatically bring new clients, more business or more money to your doorstep. For example, I did not automatically get more clients and business after completing my formal coaching certification. Although this was a great course, with excellent content, it did not generate more revenue for me. Only after investing and working with a business and marketing coach, I learned the real tips and tricks to create a growing and profitable coaching and consulting business! Take care when you invest in your growth and development – more qualifications do not always equal more revenue!
10. You need to use both your head and your heart in you biz. In your own business, you will always be confronted with decisions – some not really straight forward or simple. The facts may look fantastic on the surface, but your head and heart may be in conflict. It is always good to examine the facts guided by our values, but if the conflict remains we need to trust our intuition (heart).
In conclusion, it is fair to say that being in my own business had been a major reality check! Is it easier than corporate life? No. Is it more fulfilling? Yes, most of the time. Would I ever think of going back? Not easily, but there are no absolutes!
Let me give you a professional challenge – Regardless where you are – in a corporate career, starting up or in an established business – you need to understand that you are ultimately responsible for creating the life and career you want. Take action today to become the architect of your professional future! Dream big, define the goals and take the first step – you do not always have to know the HOW TO, before your decide to commit to a professional dream.
|Article supplied by: Gina Mostert, Business Strategist, Consultant & Coach
About the Author: Gina works executives, business leaders and companies in the services sector, helping them to think, plan and lead more strategically.