OK, so given that I am fairly new to self-employment myself, I guess it’s a little bit condescending for me to try to tell everyone all the things they SHOULD be doing, especially for those who have been on this road for some time.
In my defence, I HAVE been involved in helping business people through my work life, but never for myself before now.
It occurred to me, though, that perhaps right now my BEST assistance could be aimed at newbies – people just looking to start out…because that is where my most immediate efforts and experiences have been.
So, you wanna open your own business?!?!?!?!
First, be aware that there is a lot more to do in starting up than you might realise. Give yourself plenty of time to get things in order. You might be awesome at what you do, or have a great product to sell…but there will always be lots of admin and background things to do.
Have a way of financing a slow start. Don’t be desperate for sales, and allow yourself the ability to spend a little longer to get everything in place. It’s great if you can be set in a week…but it’s unlikely! If you have a Line of Credit, or a bit of a cash stash, or even an overdraft it can take a source of great stress from an already challenging venture.
In my accounting business, I found that every time I wanted to do something for the first time, I hit a wall. I had to download something, or register something, or apply for something…every 15 minute job took two hours!!! I thought I was organised, I had contacted the ATO, ordered software, upgraded all my registrations and memberships…but the old adage “You don’t know what you don’t know” was certainly apt.
Even though you are (probably) not looking to set up an accounting business, you still need things to get going. You will need a book-keeping option (whether a basic book, or a computer package), invoices and/or receipts, bank accounts (whether one or multiple is yet another decision), advertising/signage, furniture, equipment, and networks of complementary people.
If you are setting up a service-based business, you will probably have registrations required, possibly qualifications to ensure are up to date, and most likely at least some basic “standard” documents and letters, maybe a van or car, equipment…even just computers!
If you are wholesale/retail selling, you will need credit accounts with suppliers, as well as fit-outs and opening stock. You will need to decide what stock levels you can afford to carry, and also what you NEED so that new customers can come in and not be disappointed with what’s on offer – if they have to go somewhere else to get half of what they need, they may just go there for the lot!
Don’t ever underestimate the importance of appropriate insurances! I hope you never need to claim, but it’s so very important to make sure you have it in place…when you realise you need it, it’s too late.
Also, ensure you have ways of people finding you!!! You can’t just hang out a shingle and have customers walking through the door these days – competition can be tough! Internet savvy public need to find you (so whether you focus on Facebook, or set up a Website, you need to be visible on peoples phones and computers), but depending on your demographic you may need to consider print ads, flyer deliveries, or even radio/tv advertising. Some of this can be a longer term plan, but you SHOULD plan!
Facebook pages are free, with some handy (and cheap) advertising options. You can spend a fortune on a fancy Website, or there are some fairly cheap and easy DIY sites to set up a basic one to start. Like mine…
Get a memorable phone number. Make sure you have an email for people to contact you out of hours – you will get the message the next day, even if it is no longer in their mind…and you can then make a connection!
My BEST advice, I think, I have saved for this little finish…Set your hours, and make sure you don’t get so caught up in your new business that you neglect your family. This is hard. You are doing it for them…but if they never see you, what’s the point??? If something doesn’t HAVE to be done today (for a deadline or whatever), it will be waiting for you tomorrow. The moments to spend with your loved ones might not. This has been my greatest challenge…it’s all about work/life balance…and it is just as important for a business owner as it is for employees. Self care…top of the list!