5 tips for new (and existing) small business owners
Updated: Jun 30, 2021
So you've identified the next big thing. You know your niche and you're ready to become the next Uber. You've sought unbiassed opinions on your business idea, you've researched your market and it is time to take the plunge.
As a small business owner you'll go from CEO, to Head of marketing, to Sales Admin to accountant - sometimes multiple times in a day. It can be difficult to ensure you are doing what is best for you and for your business, but these tips may help ensure you start as you mean to go on.
Separate your business and personal finances
When starting out, it is tempting to get going as soon as you can. But one thing to ensure is that your business and personal finances remain separate. Even if you don't have the paperwork in place to set up a business account, open a separate personal account to keep things separate. This will help prevent complications later! It is also very wise to set up an LLC or some other form of official business entity. The costs are low, but almost instantly protects your personal assets from any legal trouble your business may run into. And register with HMRC as soon as you establish your business - it's an easy thing to forget but it can cost you dearly later on.
Outsource what makes sense
It's your business. You're in charge - and you can do everything, right? Maybe..... But does it make sense for you to be doing your accounts? Is your marketing better handled by someone else? It is difficult for many sole traders and people starting out in business to "relinquish control" but stop for one minute and think: what was your original business idea? You may be an excellent engineer, adding huge value to your clients - so is your time best served creating and running Google ads? Almost certainly not. What is your time worth? Stick to what you do best and look for help where appropriate.
Leave 20% of your day open
If you plan to be at the office for five hours, only plan four hours of work. If you're going to be there eight hours, plan for 6 1/2. Don't do what many people do when starting out and plan days to full capacity. You are setting yourself up to fail!
You need to plan for spare time to handle those phone calls you weren't expecting, that Zoom call that over runs, or that job that should have taken you 20 minutes but took an hour.
And the best part about planning some spare time, is that if nothing does come up you can use that time for something valuable. Reading up on the latest industry news, or expanding your educattion, or even just taking a mental break!
Ignore your inbox for the first few hours
Almost every productivity article suggests this, but it is very easy to ignore. The advice, however, is given so often for a good reason - it serves a good purpose. If you spend the first hours of the day sorting and responding to emails, you feel busy because you are busy.... but are you busy with the most important tasks of the day?
Spend the first part of your day focussing on those important business critical decisions that can actually add to your success before brain fatigue kicks in.
Invest in marketing
Sadly a website and an "open" sign on the front door isn't going to be enough to generate new business. Although you may be lucky enough to have people stumble across what you do, you need to get your message in front of people.
Start by understanding the problems you can solve, or how you can make their lives easier, and then tell them! Marketing is not a "nice to have" - it is a fundamental part of your business strategy and without it, the ability to grow your business is going to be much harder. Visibility + Credibility = Opportunity
The best time to start marketing is before day one. The second best time to start - right now.
The basic idea behind the Tomato Technique is simple: Work for 25 minutes, break for 5 and repeat until you have worked 4 x 25-minute slots. Then, take a longer break.
Not only will you find you get more done, becuase the slots are just 25 minutes, there is no pressure to get entire tasks done. It helps you to break down more complex tasks, avoid procrastination and combat distractions.