With so much information out there as to “how to start a business” and so many tips, tricks and whatever, I will give you some of my own and from the perspective that they worked for me, still, work for me and for the people that I coach and mentor.
I am a realist and that means that I can appreciate both the positive and negative aspects of something – a bit like a battery as one will not function without the other and in life we need a balance.
The world of business is no exception and this is a good point to make to set the scene for you – the lifestyle of an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster one and it’s not for everyone.
The best advice I can give you to set the scene is to always try to control your emotions and you certainly will be more acquainted with them when you start your first business and progress along the road.
I am going to scratch the surface with these 5 tips because I could write several books on each topic in reality, but I want to keep this article short and sweet!
You can read > How I started my first business from a living room in London
For me, everything revolves around your mindset and in simple terms, although it is one dimensional, your ability to never quit and keep going regardless.
There is so much attached to developing a “success” or “growth” mindset, but let’s stay with the fact that you must train yourself to keep going no matter what.
My friend and Internal Martial Arts expert Chris Chappell maintains that to work on the mind you have to access it through the body.
So if you are into any form of physical training, then you can simply push yourself a little harder, get out of your comfort zone and push the barriers a little.
Don’t go overboard especially when starting and if you are not into exercise then there are other ways, you just have to get creative and work — for me it was to do things I didn’t like to do, just to prove I could.
I would wear just a t-shirt when going out in the cold for example or have a cold shower in the morning, or it could be having the discipline to read a book an on subject that I found difficult to understand…or whatever…but you have to try to condition your mind for a life of unpredictability and uncertainty…and then refuse to quit!
So many people I coach and mentor simply haven’t done their homework or anywhere near enough research into their marketplace.
Intelligence is the key and please don’t make the mistake of thinking that information is intelligence – intelligence is the turning of information into a profitable outcome, at least in my world.
Thanks to the Internet, information is widespread and that is a double-edged sword as you have to have the right information.
Finally, don’t make the catastrophic mistake that I have made, along with many entrepreneurs and that is to never “sell to yourself.”
I see so many marketing statements, presentations and have listened to sales pitches where the statement, presentation, and pitch is driven to the presenter or the business owner and not the market.
You are in business to serve your customers and not yourself!
Learn how to sell
You have probably heard the statement that talks about nothing happening in business until a sale is made and of course it is absolutely true.
Most people I talk to in business are convinced that they are not and can never be, salespeople, as if there is some Kryptonite factor involved in becoming a salesperson.
In my opinion, we are all hardwired to sell and that is because mankind would have never survived if we didn’t master the art of bartering.
Look at children — they are masters of getting exactly what they want and will use every trick and tactic to do so and that is why my 3 children always got their ice-cream cones right before dinner and I am the entrepreneur who know all of the tricks right?
Imagination, creativity, fearlessness, and determination are qualities that every child possesses and that means you do to – you have to get back to that child-like state.
Stop “trying” to sell and simply talk – another aspect of child life was that we heard stories and are therefore conditioned to hearing them.
So tell your story to the world and your audience and you are halfway there – if you can find your passion in your business, which for me is the ultimate combination, then you will have hit the jackpot. Or if you create or market an invention that will revolutionise life such as for example the overhead projector in the 60s, a product should fly off the shelves without much sales and promo effort.
Make sure the cash flows
Nothing and I mean nothing is more important than cash flow, other than making the sale to generate the cash in the first place.
Look after it and it will look after you – examine the credit terms (if any) that you are giving to your customers and if you are paid upfront as many online businesses operate, then look at the refund policy and make sure you are conservative.
When you write your business plan for your business idea, always be more conservative with cash coming in — if you are offering thirty days credit, then bank on seeing the money at around sixty!
Remember also to build relationships with the people who pay your invoices, I know this from bitter experience as being rude to someone in credit management can see your invoices suddenly go to the “dispute” category.
Hire the right people
I have been involved in the recruiting and staffing industry for nearly forty years and you would think that I am an expert in hiring people — well the answer is both “yes” and “no.”
For my clients, it is a resounding “yes,” but I am not so good at hiring my own staff and probably because I am more impetuous when it comes to hiring my own people — I just want to get on and hire!
It is not a mistake to have this attitude, but there must be safeguards and other people involved in the hiring process.
In today’s tech-driven world, you can automate a whole load of tasks, but you still need the “human factor.”
One tip I will give you that worked fantastically for me in the sales function was to not hire people with previous industry experience — I wanted to have no “baggage” and train people my own way and from scratch.
I simply looked for a natural aptitude for sales, rather than sales experience.
You cannot do this in the areas of say finance, where qualified experience is needed, but you can get the idea,
One final piece of advice here is to remember the recruitment industry saying:
“You hire people for what they know and fire them for who they are.”
Make sure you take time to find out who the person is, before you hire them, rather than just looking at their qualifications to do the job.
I could have easily written a hundred tips for success and these are just a few, but they have served me well.
You will notice that I haven’t included business planning and that is deliberate because it falls into the research phase and I am almost loathed to talk about it because, for me, it is a double or even triple edged sword.
I think it was Mike Tyson the boxer who said that all plans go out of the window once you are punched in the face and any soldier who has faced battle will also tell you that once the bullets fly, plans go out of the window.
But both Mr. Tyson and the soldier will tell you that you must at least “have a business plan” to start with as you have reference points to go back to.
Good luck in your business venture(s) and remember another point – hard work!
You cannot beat it!
- Neil Franklin is an award-wining entrepreneur. He provides coaching and mentoring for startups and entrepreneurs who need guidance to build thriving businesses.