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By Lynne Gowers on 20th August 2015
Many people dream of setting up their own business and working for themselves. In comparison to working long office hours with a temperamental coffee machine, the dream of working where you want with decent fresh coffee on tap is certainly tempting. If you have made the jump and started up your own small business, the next step is making it a business success; here are our top 11 tips for small business success.
Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life… might be clichéd advice, but it’s true. Whilst it might not be practical to turn your hobby or passion into a profitable enterprise, matching your likes and personality to your job role or business can certainly help you find happiness. Remember, nobody is one hundred percent happy with their job – unless, of course, they’re successful enough to subcontract the parts they’d rather not do. But make sure you’re at least happy with the lion’s share of what you do – it’ll keep you motivated and help you push through the dull parts.
It’s easy to second-guess yourself, especially as a freelancer or sole trader with no wingman for emotional back-up. Take time to assert your self-belief; perhaps by creating an achievement diary so you can reflect on why you’re happy with your professional development thus far.
It’s easier to run a business when you have others who can help share the load. Only hire staff who you trust and who you’d be completely happy with handing over the metaphorical keys; if you’re still spending lots of time overseeing their work, then you may as well just do it yourself and save the money.
In case you missed the memo, goals are important. Not only do they help you assess where you want your business to be in the next year (or five), they also enable you to plan backwards by giving you the target you can create stepping stones towards.
Efficient business leaders don’t just work harder, they work smarter. Prioritise your work so you’re focusing on the projects or areas which reap the most financial gain.
Where possible, outsource those tasks which are either time inefficient or you’d just rather not do. If you can’t afford to outsource to a freelancer or hire staff members, invest in technological shortcuts. You can use online accountants – complete with accounts apps to keep track of your finances – or use scheduling tools to upload your social media marketing output in bulk.
Divide your working day into hourly segments. Allocate different tasks to each block, and leave an hour spare in the afternoon for anything that crops up. With this method, it’s critical to make sure you stick to your schedule throughout the day; once the time is over, wrap up and move on to the next task. If you still need more time, you can dip into your free hour in the afternoon.
Remember how well those star charts worked in primary school? We’re not saying you need to start collecting gold stars on the wall of your office, but tie in your business goals with rewarding yourself. These can be financial or development focused, such as if you hit a certain target or spend an allotted amount of time on a particular task. Not only will it make you feel better, it’ll help you achieve more.
Sure, it gets expensive when you have to pay to send yourself on career-developing courses. But if you choose wisely, the investment is usually worth it. Don’t just go on courses which seem fun; make sure they’re both useful and enhance your skillset too.
No, we’re not talking about bungee jumping in New Zealand. But we are talking about branching out and creating different methods of doing things. Not currently on social media? Give it a try and see how it goes (here’s a quick guide to social media for freelancers). Discovered a new business networking group in your area? Commit yourself to going for a few weeks. Be careful not to go through phases, however; be clear from the outset exactly how long you will try something.
In this era of 24/7 connectivity it’s easy to work non-stop. Bashing out emails at 11pm may make you feel like you’re being super productive, but it can also blind you from seeing the bigger picture. Taking a step back from time to time helps keep your goals clear and stops you from getting bogged down with the small stuff. You might not want to fully disconnect on holiday – Richard Branson spends a vast proportion of his working life directing his business empire from his luxury Caribbean bolthole. If it works for him, it can probably work for you too – even if it’s a case of just keeping your business ticking over nicely until you return. Just make sure your accommodation has decent WiFi before you go.
Our handy guide to claiming expenses through your limited company looks at what you can and can’t claim tax relief on through your company
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