Dive in


Starting up your own business is exciting and scary in equal measures.

All too often you dive in without a second thought (especially if you’re working freelance or provide a service that doesn’t need a huge start-up investment), which is a recipe for disaster.

Jumping in without thinking, or getting caught up in things that really aren’t that important (at the start) is likely to cause your business to fail.

You must take your time, plan, ask advice and work out what works for you, if you don’t you could end up making one of these mistakes.

  1. Your business model isn’t working

This one happens a lot, especially to service providers.

Consultants, coaches and other freelance service providers start out on an hourly rate.

It’s only after a few months or so that they realise there are not enough billable hours in a day (or they can’t generate enough clients) to pay the bills.

That’s a big problem. If that sounds familiar to you, don’t bury your head in the sand, either rethink you charging policy or come up with some alternative services that will generate more income (e.g. courses, eBooks, new approaches etc.).

  1. Keep focused on the important stuff

When you start out in business you’ll get lots of advice. Some will be good, some not so good. The trick is to filter out the stuff that’s relevant to you, your business and your customers.

One of the main things you’ll be told you must do is social media. Yes, blogging, Twitter, Facebook etc., are all very valid tools for business, but unless you’ve got the basics right – i.e. what your business is all about – you’ll fall flat on your face.

There’s no point spending time growing an audience on social media if you don’t have a clear idea about what you’re offering.

Once you have a business plan, portfolio of products/service etc. you can then attack social media and start to build a following.

  1. Who is your customer?

Whether you have one main target audience, or different products and services for different audiences, it’s essential you tailor your marketing to suit their needs.

For example, if you offer coaching services, but to create a new revenue stream decide to offer a high end training programme, there’s no point advertising it to your usual clients because they won’t be interested.

Make sure your marketing is always relevant to who is seeing it; otherwise you’re just wasting your time and money.

  1. What’s your pricing like?

Everything has a value; in your mind you are offering the best service on the market and want to price it accordingly, but your audience may not agree with you.

You must research your marketplace to find out whether your proposed fees are realistic and that there is actually a market for what you are providing.

  1. Look at me!

Setting up a business, getting a logo designed and putting up a website isn’t going to make your business a success.

That will come down to hard work, determination and by being different.

You will have loads of competitors out there – some new and some established – if you want to get noticed you have to do something unique. You must offer something people want and you have to do it better than anyone else.

  1. Are you a grafter?

Marketing your business is tough. It’s a full time job that you’ll have to fit in around your clients. If you don’t have the time or inclination you’ll have to hire someone to do it for you.

Too many new business owners are under the impression that clients will just find them – it doesn’t work like that. You have to get out there and actively look for work if you want to succeed.

The best advice I can give is start at the beginning:

  • What do you really want to do?
  • Do you have the right skill set to do it?
  • Is there a marketplace for it?
  • How are you going to do it?
  • Think carefully about your pricing
  • What is your marketing plan?
  • Who are your customers and what do they want?

What advice were you given?

Was any of it useful? If so, leave a comment and share the best (or worst) piece of advice you were given before starting your business.