Running your own business is a lot of work. Trust us—we know! But we also know that many entrepreneurs can cut down on the difficulty of their first couple years of owning their own business by following a few guidelines as well. We’ve guided dozens of entrepreneurs through their first months, years, and decades of business ownership. When it comes to tips and shortcuts, we’ve got you covered.
Of course, some of the secrets we’ve learned throughout the years apply specifically to our small business of coupon marketing, but others aren’t trade secrets – they’re just good business sense.
Here’s some of our tried and true methods that can keep you from throwing in the towel on your small business, or pulling out your hair as you struggle through the first hard months.
Tip #1: Plan
Across the board, creative and visionary people often have an aversion to planning. Some of them think it might repress their creative outlet. In reality, strategic planning, goal-setting, and prioritizing will allow you to have the time and organization required to be creative and expand yourself.
Before getting started, you need a strategy. What kind of small business do you want to start? Do you want to own this business forever, or do you want to start a small business to gain experience and later sell, paving the way for your next venture? What’s your 5 year goal? How about your 10 year goal?
Take the time to lay out what you want your business to be. Dare to dream, and don’t hold back. Everything that you want should be laid out.
Now, create a plan to get yourself there. Include the small steps too, even such small things as buying a planner and pens or creating a workspace for yourself. Little steps are easier to tackle on busy days, and they help you to constantly move forward.
Do this again and again throughout the growth of your business. Plans and goals may change, and you’ll need to create new goals as you achieve old ones, but keep at it.
Tip #2: Figure out how much time you need in a day
As you’re building your business, it’s important for you to keep track of how much time you have in a day to accomplish tasks. This will help you with tip #1, planning and scheduling.
Carry a planner with you in which you can record what you do all day, every day. Include the little things at first, such as stopping to talk to your landlord, or getting stuck in traffic. Once you begin seeing patterns of what is taking up your time, you will begin to see how much you can plausibly accomplish in the course of a day, a week, and so forth. From here you can assess how much of your time is actually spent producing results and how much is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations, and actions.
Now begin scheduling out your day. Include all the activities that are important to your success, and assign times to them. Schedule when they will begin and end. Make appointments and allow time blocks for certain items and adhere to them. Don’t forget to schedule in some extra time for catching up on items that took longer than anticipated!
Tip #3: Prioritize your tasks
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what is taking up all of your time, you get to prioritize your tasks.
You’ve perhaps heard of the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of the profits you’ll see will actually come from 20% of the products or services that you offer. This applies with your time as well. There are certain tasks that will give you much more results in terms of moving things forward that others.
The idea behind prioritizing is that you sit down and assess what tasks are going to be the most profitable or important for you to accomplish. The highest priority items will be at the top of your list and are more likely to be completed. Additionally, the top items are usually the items that you will accomplish first in the day, reserving your energy and brain power for these more important tasks.
Not only will you feel more accomplished and see greater profitability from your labors, you’ll also be reassured that, if some things fall by the wayside, it won’t be items of dire importance.
Tip #4: Learn your skills and learn to delegate
Learn yourself. Owning a small business is an excellent way to find out your strengths and weaknesses, because you’ll be tested when working on every aspect of your business. Evaluate your skills. Are you a disaster when it comes to managing money? Do you avoid design-work like the plague? Are your writing skills depressingly similar to a second-grader’s? Would you rather walk barefoot across broken glass than do a sales pitch?
While there is the reality that if you want to run your own business, you’re going to have to do things that you aren’t necessarily comfortable with or amazingly skilled at, but there is also the truth that you need to learn to delegate.
Recognize your weak points, and choose people to come alongside you who will complement your strengths and fill in those weak areas of the company. Delegate the tasks that your partner or employee is more skilled at, and allow them to help you grow in that area.
Taking advice and learning from others is a key aspect of running a good business. Whether this means formal, or informal training or identifying a mentor that can help you to excel, or simply being humble enough to learn from your employees, you can avoid many failures by listening to the insights, experience, and advice of others.
Tip #5: Get going now even if it isn’t perfect
One of the traps that many people fall into is perfectionism. The reality is that, in many cases, ‘done’ is a better option than ‘perfect.’ If you always expect your first crack at something to be flawless, you’ll never get it off the ground. Instead, when you create something, know that you will have to face many, many iterations before it is ‘perfect’. Create the best you can do at the time, move forward with it, and make iterations as you go. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and eventually, it will evolve into the creation that is the best-functioning and most-profitable that it can be.
You’ll get much further this way than simply waiting to launch until it is ‘perfect’.
Tip #6: Be willing to adapt
Part of the process, as mentioned in the point above, is leaving room for iterations to your business. It is important to constantly monitor the areas of key performance in your company. Can they be improved? Do any systems or strategies need to be fine-tuned or even dropped completely? Measure your successes and failures and then adapt accordingly.
And don’t forget that having a closely monitored system will provide you with an early warning of any decisions or strategies that aren’t working, helping you to make the right business decisions ahead of time.
These are just a few of the things that we will teach you at Hometown Values when you join our team. In our opinion, each new team member that partners with us needs support, guidance and advice. After all, we all need outside insight and help, even if we’ve been entrepreneurs for years. We provide training seminars, on-call staff for assistance, and plenty of comrades to connect you with that share your dream of being their own boss, of building something of their own.
Contact us for additional information about our business opportunities that we have in store for you.