It looks easy to set up your own service based business; many people expect to make a good living straightaway, but there’s a lack of appreciation for the support network you need for it to thrive.
If you don’t get the right support early on you will quickly feel overwhelmed and business will suffer.
About three months ago I hired a tradesman to fit a new door and window at a cost of around £1400. I haven’t had an invoice yet so I haven’t paid him for his work. He clearly has no system to issue his invoices. Even if you are an expert at the service you offer, there’s a whole lot more to running your own business than that one skill.
Success requires a different mindset. You need support.
Motivational author Zig Ziglar said: “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.” Cash flow is important. If you’re outputting goods and materials you need to be getting the input, otherwise you’ll lose money and without a record of expenses you’ll pay more tax.
Unless you have regular access to the bank of mum and dad or a massive Trust Fund consider starting your new business and maintaining your current employment until you get established. You will have to work longer hours, but it’s worth it to get your processes in place without feeling overwhelmed.
Make a List
I’ve been in business for 30 years. If I could turn back time I’d make a list of every single thing that needs to be done within my business so it runs smoothly.
As soon as you start your business begin to write down every job you do from answering the phone to creating an advert or meeting a client. Add new items to that list over the period of a month so that you are fully aware of what is involved in running your business effectively.
There will be some things on your list that you’re not good at. You might be told by well meaning people that they are your weaknesses and you should focus on building that skillset. However, Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach)® (entrepreneurial coaching) would say that then you develop ‘strong weaknesses.’ They are your weaknesses because you don’t like doing them; get support to cover those areas as soon as possible.
You don’t have to rent a big office or hire lots of staff; where possible find virtual staff. Go through the list of day to day jobs that you wrote down and put a mark next to each one to indicate which ones you can and want to delegate.
For each item on your list create a step by step process of exactly how you want that job to be completed; an idiot’s guide to how someone else should do that work. You could hire a school leaver to do the jobs you don’t want to do, or if you want a virtual assistant then you can hire from anywhere in the world for a very modest price.
Hiring support in this way means that you’re not in charge of payroll; they’re self-employed. When you have support you’ll be surprised at how many more projects you can do. At first you might think that you can’t afford support, but look at the tradesman who still hasn’t requested payment; he could have paid a virtual assistant for at least two months if he’d sent his invoice to me!
Your work will dry up if you’re too busy doing what you do best to meet new customers or clients or to go and quote for new work. Customers will find somebody more efficient than you. All you need to do to stop this happening is hire someone with an eye for detail who loves to do the administrative work that you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at. There are people everywhere who love to do what you don’t. Find them, and treat them well.
There is also plenty of software available to take the strain out of getting started. Here are some popular ones:
- QuickBooks: You can photograph a receipt and it will automatically upload to your system
- Calendly: If you rely on remote meetings or bookings then people can access your diary through a link and book an available slot.
- Stripe: An online payment facility supporting you to take immediate credit or debit card payment in person and over the phone.
- Zoom: Where appropriate you can hold meetings online.
Do your research and find what suits you and your business best.
It’s never going to be perfect when you start a new business but if you wait for perfection you will never start; sometimes you need to jump, learn, and get the right support as you go.
If you’re ready to learn more about getting started in business, setting goals and taking action I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.