It doesn’t seem too long ago that we started our business, so it’s quite a shock that it is now 8 years. It’s amazing how far we’ve come, from an idea that formed in a bedroom working off laptops to now having 2 members of staff working for us, and a fantastic office space in the heart of Aberystwyth. Not only that but working with such a variety of businesses, individuals and organisations across Wales, and helping promote the Welsh language online as much as we can.
This month then, I wanted to share 8 of our top tips for running your own business, while not focussing on one area in particular, just things we have learned along the way as business owners. Hope you enjoy!
- Be more you – this is the biggest tip I can share. It underpins absolutely everyone we do, not just individually but as a company as well. You really do have to let your personality shine through in everything – the way you write emails, how you answer the phone, the content on your website, your social media. It’s all about being human, and being you. Once you can start doing that, you should see some positive changes!
- Grow organically – from experience and circumstance we have grown organically over 8 years to where we are now. It’s tempting to rush things at the start, and when you do start your business and you have lots of time, it’s easy to do as well. Take a more steady and organic approach and you will end up in a stronger position down the line – you’re basically giving yourself time to grow rather than stretching too quickly.
- Forget the competition – when you start a new business, of course you have your eye on the competition, almost as a benchmark for what you might aspire to be. We’ve certainly been there, right at the start and thought yes – we want to be like them! All of a sudden you realise you might be spending too much time checking out your competition and comparing yourself to them. You have no idea what happens in their business, so how can you fairly compare yourself? Also what are your goals – they could be so different!
- Outsource – this took a while to learn, but one of the biggest steps for us was realising, you can’t do everything. For example with our office block, for the sake of 1 hour a week, we hired a cleaner. It seemed so daft at the time, but we were constantly stressing over when to clean the offices, popping in on a Sunday night or very early Monday morning. Outsourcing is a way of investing in your business, accept you can’t do everything and you’re not the expert of everything – and free up time for those things you are good at.
- Know your target audience – this is a big one, and many people assume it’s just about marketing but it’s much more than that. Everything you do within your business, will link back to your audience. Whatever your customer journey is from that initial enquiry to finishing a project or selling an item, will depend on your target audience. I can’t stress the importance of knowing it, and always going back to it and seeing if your audience has changed or remains the same.
- You can’t do it all – this one is related to social media, and also your competition. There has long been a feeling that you need to be on every single platform going, or if your competition are on 4 platforms then you obviously need to be as well… well, I’m here to tell you that is not the case. Again, let’s assume you don’t know how your competition works on the inside – perhaps they don’t have as much client work so aren’t as busy, perhaps they have an extra member of staff, perhaps they work 12 hours a day. You just don’t know! And when it comes to being on lots of social media platforms, my biggest tip would be don’t spread yourself too thin. It is better to do one or two platforms well, than 3 or 4 poorly. What you do need to know though is, where are your target audience? There’s little point putting your energy into Twitter if they spend all of their time on Pinterest and Instagram.
- Hire an accountant – I look at this two ways. The first, unless you are an accountant it’s likely you might trip up when it comes to the maze of HMRC rules and everything else that comes with it. Hiring an accountant will help you make sure you’re ticking the right boxes, paying what you need to in tax and not getting penalties. The second angle for this is investment in your business. Hire an accountant who can help your business grow, who understands your industry and can advise you on what to do with your finances. It will make a huge difference, and also having that extra layer of support for you too.
- Connect with fellow business owners – owning your own business can be lonely. Who do you talk to at the end of a rubbish day? Who can celebrate your wins with? Friends and family are fantastic of course, but nothing will beat the support from fellow business owners who know what it’s like! I’d recommend networking groups both offline and online to find your business owner buddies.
And there we have it, my 8 top tips for running your own business. There are lots more, and if you run your own business already you might have some more to add too!