Dickens’ phrase “the best of times and the worst of times” is one of those descriptions that can find its place in every generation. Today, for many employees it’s beginning to feel like the worst of times, for those who choose to throw it all in and set up their own business, it could well be the best. With large, established, businesses contracting rapidly, struggling to keep up with staffing and other costs that they’ve built up during the good years, small, robust and streamlined newcomers can discover there are surprisingly rich pickings out there. If you’ve recently joined the ranks of the record numbers of the self-employed or are planning to, getting the basics right may well set you and your business up for life. Here are a few things to consider as you start out.
Attitude, Planning, Technology and Tools
- Running a small business means waving goodbye to the nine to five routine. That’s usually sold as one of the benefits. Not everyone mentions the six to eight routine or the half five to midnight one. Small, fledgling businesses take a lot of nurturing and accepting that the nine to five routine will be something that you’ll find yourself begging for in the early days, months or years, is the first step. One of the biggest assets you’ll have is your attitude — if you’re self-reliant, resilient and persistent, you’ve already got what it takes.
- Plan, plan, plan. Also be prepared to tear up the plan and start again, but always get a business plan written down. It’s important in two respects — it helps to focus your goals and monitor your progress but it will also give your business the professional edge that banks are extremely fond of. There is a wealth of resources on the internet to help you do this, or visit the Directgov or Business Link sites for advice and help.
- If you are a technophobe now is the time to confront your fears. Whether you like it or not, technology has become a crucial part of every business. Retail sales on the High Street are plummeting, retail sales on the internet are rocketing. Customers expect an email address where they can contact you at any time of day, and if you have a website you have access to a world of potential customers. Again, advice is available from government organisations and ‘Getting British Business Online’ will give you advice and a free, easy to create website. You’ve no excuse!
- Crucial to any new business is your ability to concentrate on your core business. Unless you’re setting up as an accountant, you’ll need one. There are a number of aspects to accounting that need to be handled professionally — VAT, Payroll, Invoicing and Companies House paperwork. Accountancy software and invoicing software will be an asset to your business and cut the time your accountant will bill for. Find a suitable package from the outset and let the accountancy software and your accountant take the strain.
Setting up a new business can take hours of commitment, hard work and dedication. Despite the current recession there are incredible opportunities for small, agile young businesses to make startling successes, very quickly indeed. By ensuring you bring the right attitude, plan carefully, embrace technology and delegate important tasks such as accountancy, you may find yourself experiencing the best of times against all the odds.
Neil blogs on small business issues, on everything from digital marketing to invoicing software. When he’s not online he is an avid film buff with a particular interest in Asian cinema.