Being, what I call, a serial entrepreneur (I love being in business) I have set up several businesses, some successful, some not so successful but all were learning experiences. I have some pointers (and I am by no means a business set up expert) that have picked up along the way.
- Find a great accountant
A good accountant will help you along the way, not encourage you to get into debt, teach you how to do things for yourself and generally put you on the right path. My new accountant is sylviatroccoli.com.au and I have explained to her my goals so we can work towards those. Previously I had accountants that encouraged me to set up a company, which was expensive in itself, as well as buy expensive cars and did all my books so I spent a lot. Suffice to say it wasn’t where I wanted to go in my business. I don’t want lear jets and limousines, I want a healthy life balance, enough to live comfortably and be able to afford my accountant. My new accountant is going to help me to help myself and I think that is the key in small business.
- Structure your time
This just means write your projects and admin in your digital or physical calendar and try to keep to it as much as possible. I put the gym in at some point in the day, as well as an hour or so for social media and blogging, which is essentially my marketing time. I also make sure that I am clear with my clients now with realistic deadlines. I’ve stopped trying to people please and give unrealistic delivery dates and unable to meet these. If everyone’s expectations are in black and white, then there is no grey area to cause problems.
- Never do work unless you have agreed on the cost
Put everything in writing. Make a contract for each and every job, no matter how small. Do an estimate. For the time it takes, it can save headaches and heartaches later.
- Ensure people read your T’s and C’s
Make sure that your client physically signs a contract including the terms and conditions. Clicking an “I have read and agree” button doesn’t mean they have read or understood your terms and conditions. Make sure that they understand their obligations as well.
- Make signature templates for repetitive emails
For example “welcome”, “here are your concepts”, “price request reply” etc. I f you find yourself typing the same email more than once, put it into a signature, so when you need to send that email you just need to add their name and select the signature and all the text is already there. Automating processes will mean you have more time to do what you do.
- Design forms for everything
I try to have forms for as much as I can, so it is really clear and I get the details asap. If you need specific info for each project, make a form. I need web access, briefs, requests for changes, payment and so forth. Again the less you do over and over, the more time you have to be doing what you do and earning billable time.
- Work on your SEO
Every week, spend time on your SEO. Fine tune your keywords, add hyperlinks within the site, make sure all your pictures have alt tags and descriptions and keep tweaking until you appear on Google’s front page for your desired keywords. If you can’t do this yourself, I’m here to help and I am very conscious of budget limitations of small/medium sized business.
- Take time out
I have experienced burn out in my previous businesses. I’ve worked too hard and not taken breaks. Remember a tree cannot bloom all your round. A business owner need to regenerate. Know when to turn off and put that computer to sleep. Ensure you spend time with your family, exercise and meet up with friends.
I’d love to hear from you if you have tips about running a successful business. Feel free to post on my Facebook page at facebook.com/DianePenelope