With spring around the corner, have you done the ground work to support the growth of your small business in 2018? What practical steps should you take to make sure the foundations are strong?
1) Have a clear business idea that you have confidence in. Understand where your expertise lies and if there is demand.
2) Understand your weaknesses. Identify the gaps in your business know-how and plug them with help from professionals who know what they are talking about, whether it be finance, HR or marketing, etc. Consider using a business coach to help you identify your goals and keep on track, unblock barriers and problems, and keep motivated. If you’re on your own, and there is no sounding board to help you make good decisions, this can sometimes make the difference between success and failure.
3) Identify and understand your target market. A scatter-gun approach is rarely successful. Spot a gap and be specific. Seek feedback and conduct research so that you understand your market well and can confirm that there really is a demand for your product or services.
4) Network, network, network! Good business networking groups, seminars and conferences can offer a real life-line. Aside from providing business opportunities, networking groups especially will allow you to access advice from experienced and often inspirational people – who understand what you are grappling with.
Of course, social media is also essential to networking and something you cannot afford to ignore. Find the right balance for your business though – spend too much time networking on social media (which is very easily done) and you may find that the rewards do not really justify the time input. Make sure you prioritise so other important work is not neglected.
5) Don’t undersell yourself. Research and work out what you should be charging your clients. Your market will tell you if you are charging too much (you won’t have any business!) and it is hard to increase your rates once you have established clients.
6) Create a suitable working environment. It sounds obvious, but if you’re based at home you really cannot work effectively without adequate childcare, office equipment and a peaceful and efficient work-space. Be disciplined and find ways to minimise distractions, such as household chores and the TV.
7) View mistakes positively. We all make mistakes – they’re going to happen and once they have you can’t take them back. Instead of beating yourself up, understand and learn so you make better decisions next time.
8) Accept that the perfect work life balance doesn’t exist and simply seek a better one. Be clear on what your goals are, both at work and in your personal life, and also how much capacity you have to take on new work at any one time. This should help you to feel more comfortable to say ‘no’ to new work when it doesn’t support your end goals, or if it will be detrimental to what is really important.
9) Keep reviewing your SMART business goals to make sure that you are making progress and that they are still relevant. Don’t be afraid to change your plans if circumstances change and definitely don’t waste time flogging a dead horse! Find a new route and way forward….
Arbre Consulting provides HR advice and support across the board, and also specialises in small business coaching. Please do contact us to arrange a time to discuss how we can help you.