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If you could start your business again, what would you do differently?

Discussion in 'Get productive' started by Peter - FS Administrator, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. I.T. Guaranteed

    I.T. Guaranteed Member

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    What would I do differently if I could go back in time and start my business again? How appropriate that on this, the 50th anniversary of Dr Who, Flying Solo pose such a question concerning time travel.

    So what would I change? My answer is absolutely nothing. Not a thing.

    Let me state straight away, I don’t consider myself to be perfect. Far from it.

    The premise for this question is really, what mistakes have I made that I wouldn’t make again.

    I have made lots of mistakes, but I would gladly hop skip and jump into the Flying Solo TARDIS and repeat every single one of those luscious, head banging, mind numbing, blunders all over again in exactly the same way.

    Why?

    Because each one of those carefully orchestrated plans that didn’t come off according to my dreams turned itself into pearls of wisdom. Had I not made the mistakes I had, then I wouldn’t have learnt what doesn’t work, because before one can learn what does work it is necessary to learn opposite.

    Some examples.
    • Paid Advertising
      I have spent a few thousand on paid advertising. One campaign was so successful (sending out stickers with “free telephone support” to 30,000 homes) it was lauded at a University marketing lecture. The academic raved about it enthusiastically. It was successful only in the eyes of the academics. What I learned was, real effort put into marketing and branding could far outweigh any dollars put into advertising. Hard slogging effort, like writing a weekly newspaper column for 4 years or doing a regular talkback radio gig.
    • Specialising
      One can either try to sell to the masses, or specialise by targeting key prospects whom are more likely to listen to your pitch. I am glad I started by spreading the net widely at first but it took me longer than most to acknowledge my key strengths were better spent servicing the 20% of customers who contributed to the 80% of my income. ( 80/20 rule)
    • Managed services
      When you begin in business that feeling when you get your first few sales is amazing. “I’m actually doing it.” Later you realise that you actually have to do it again (find a prospect, sell, deliver), and again and again. It is much easier to keep the clients you have than to keep chasing new ones. In my industry (I.T.) this is now called “Software as a service” (SaS). It has huge advantages for the client. Much lower costs that are budgetable from year to year with everything included – free updates, money back satisfaction guarantee for the duration, no unexpected support bills, and knowing that the I.T. Company has skin on the table, and thus is not going to disappear after they take the money, leaving little to no support and a product that only half works. Learning how to package up your services and sell them as an ongoing service was the lesson that made the difference between sink and swim for my business.
    • Risk
      Risk is viewed by many as a bad thing. But just like good and bad cholesterol there is good risk and bad risk. Bad risk is venturing into unknown territory with loads of cash and no experience or advice from those who have trodden the path before. Good risk is managed risk. Knowing not just what the returns are but also what the possible losses could be and being prepared for those eventualities. In business risk is unavoidable. Failing to get good experienced advice to reduce the risk is another mistake that I won’t be repeating.
    • Purchase orders
      If you get a client that says “Yes I will buy that”, even if it’s I will order it for six months down the track, get a purchase order ASAP. A lot can happen in that time, as I learnt when a restructure moved my yes man and swapped him to another department.
    • Rented Office
      This was a doozey of an idea that took hold after I had been operating a mobile computer repair & training business for 2 years. The theory was, instead of me running all over town teaching clients on their own computers (something that was listed as a need on my business plan), they could come to my hired professional office, or pay a premium for the home service. Needless to say that year I just worked for my landlord and the power & phone companies (as in I managed to pay my bills and that’s about all). When the lease ended, I was very happy to be back as a mobile service with an edge over my brick & mortar competitors once again.

    The bigger the mistake the bigger the lesson. But each one has made me and my business stronger, and more resilient. Skipping those mistakes would be like getting a taxi to the top of Mt Everest, shoving a flag in and then back to the nearest café for a latte. You would miss the journey, the challenge, the effort, and never get to rejoice in the accomplishments.

    I could rattle on but the keys on this old laptop are about to cave in.

    So thanks for the offer of a trip in the TARDIS to change things, but I will skip this one out.

    Hang on maybe there is one thing I would do different …

    Why… subscribe to Flying Solo about ten years ago of course :)
  2. Calcul8or

    Calcul8or Active Member

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    After giving this a lot of thought, the one thing I would definitely do if I had my time again, would be to do it sooner! :)
  3. Wild Ethereal

    Wild Ethereal Member

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    I'm fairly new but -

    1. I would put my head down and bum up to produce as much art as possible instead of wasting time looking at what everyone else is doing.

    2. I would also set up a weekly goal sheet to help keep my focus and enable me to prioritise my time more effectively......Procrastination is my biggest enemy.

    Deb :eek:)
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  4. Gizmo

    Gizmo Active Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for your posts there is so much valuable stuff here.

    What would I do differently is easy to say but I think very hard to do.

    If I could start again what would I do?
    I think the keyword there is START.

    There are many things I would do differently. But I think the most important things are done before a business even starts. I think the most important lessons for me to learn is from mistakes made before the start.

    Looking back now several decisions at the start were too much tied to emotion and drive. I think this was because of the connection I formed with the new business, my baby.

    So next time I do this I'll be sure to take a step back and try and be "Vulcan" i.e. look at it logically and leave the emotion out of the decision making process.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013
  5. word and web by george

    word and web by george Member

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    1) Find a mentor. 2) Create a business plan to be revisited every six months. 3) Skill up in adapting to change. 4) Focus on goals and plans - not just on income.
  6. Debs

    Debs Member

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    I would take more risk and engage the help of professionals who have the marketing and other business skills that I don't.

    I started my business from scratch after a career change. I had done well in my previous career and was afraid of risking any of it and losing the lot. I couldn't bear the thought of starting all over again.

    I learnt the hard way when it came to advertising my business. I invested thousands of dollars in the wrong place. I tried to do everything in the business myself and this wasn't productive or effective.

    This time I would get the help of experts to work with me to make sure I didn't make those costly mistakes.

    The advice of a mentor would also have been very valuable.

    I'd network more. I was worried about competition, but really, networking with your peers is more valuable than you realise.
  7. ScarlettR

    ScarlettR Well-Known Member

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    Gawd, this is a hard one.

    Don't be afraid to ask for help.

    As a soloist I'm incredibly independent and isolated. Even today I find myself lacking a real community of people that I'm constantly in touch with- and Flying Solo has helped so much with that.

    But as someone who has come from a very difficult, dark place it is to not be afraid to ask for help. Without our network of people we crumble- emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually...

    Asking for help:

    • Gives me a sense of being connected
    • Makes me realise I'm not alone in my joys, my struggles, and my goals
    • Lets friendships blossom and grow
    • Encourages me to challenge myself
    • Makes failure easier
    • Brings joy into my life
    • Makes me face my fears and step out of my comfort zone
    • Releases the pressure valve of expectation and guilt, believing that I don't do enough
    • It's more than just trying to solve an immediate problem, it's understanding that when you fall back, there are people there to help catch you.

    Asking for help, for me, has only really come into play this past 6 months (out of maybe... 6 years?). Each time I have opened myself up enough to ask for help, the growth of myself and my business multiply.
    4 people like this.
  8. Peter - FS Administrator

    Peter - FS Administrator Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi all,

    Wow - thanks everyone, there's some real gold in here!

    Just a reminder that the Productivity Month Challenge ends after tomorrow (Sat 30th) so get your final entries in. We'll leave the thread online for a little longer so we all get time to absorb the tips (and judge the winners)!

    We've got a major prize of a Toshiba Portege Ultrabook ($1,499 RRP) as well as 50 ‘Productivity Packs’ which include a copy of Flying Solo's bestselling book, a nifty solar powered phone charger and more. It's all supported by DOT (Digital Office Technology)™ from Telstra.

    Simply reply to this thread with your tip or idea to be in the running.

    [​IMG]


    Here's what's in the 50 Productivity Packs...
    [​IMG]

    Have a great weekend!
    Peter and the FS crew
  9. jewelsee

    jewelsee Member

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    Let myself make more mistakes

    Thanks Flying Solo and all those who have posted - there is so much wisdom and good practical advice shared above and I can relate to a surprising number of these posts.

    But for me, if I were to go and start over, I would let myself make more mistakes - and not beat myself up over them...

    I would experiment more and not feel that I must have it all figured out before I move in new directions.

    I have learnt more from some of my mistakes (or things that didn't go to plan) than I possibly could have learnt from someone giving me a "how to" lesson in advance.

    That's not to say that I won't be actively seeking out help and taking note of the advice of the experts and others who have gone ahead (or walk alongside) - it is foolishness to blindly flail about when someone can set you on the right path. But I need to find my path and it may not be the road most travelled.
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  10. appman

    appman Member

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    Hi Ginny,

    A mentor is anyone who knows more than you in the field that you are pursuing and WANTS to help you. Some of them you have to pay but I find the best ones are the ones that you meet by accident.
    The best way to meet mentors is get rid of the people in your life that find reasons why you can't do what you want to do. All they are doing is wasting your time. Surround yourself with people who support your decisions and don't stop looking for more.
    Just keep your eyes open and only take advice from people who have reached the level of success that YOU want.
  11. Peter - FS Administrator

    Peter - FS Administrator Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi again everyone,

    Thank you for getting involved in November's Productivity Month Challenge. While the challenge is over, feel free to add your tips or read through the thread. As many members have said, there's been a stack of valuable contributions. To help make it easier to share and read, we'll shortly be compiling an ebook collating all the tips and ideas we received and sharing it with the Flying Solo community.

    We'll also start the very tough task of judging and selecting the recipients of the our major prize, the Toshiba Portege Ultrabook ($1,499 RRP), and the 50 ‘Productivity Packs’.

    It's all part of 'Productivity Month' which was held throughout November on Flying Solo and included free webinars, how-to articles, case studies and more to help you work smarter. Proudly supported by DOT (Digital Office Technology)™ from Telstra. For details, visit telstra.com/dot

    We'll be contacting winners in the new few weeks to arrange delivery details and will keep you updated on this thread.
    Peter and the FS crew
    Upward Dog likes this.
  12. si

    si Guest

    I would do things differently

    I would have enough Funds to fall back on in the Hard Times. Brush up on Planning and Concepts before rushing to it. Have plenty of support behind you. and Always ask Questions and be prepared to Learn new Things. and Take Advise.
  13. Orbit Sites

    Orbit Sites Member

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    I would make a more solid plan before starting - but then again you only learn by making errors.. better to make them earlier rather then later.. and make the experience your own knowledge, not just something you read in a book :)
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  14. Robert Gerrish

    Robert Gerrish Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi all,

    Thanks again to everyone for all the great answers to the question: "If ​you ​could start ​your​ business again, what would ​you ​do differently?”

    We have been through all the entries and selected the finest 50 posters to receive a complimentary 'Productivity Pack’ which includes a copy of Flying Solo's bestselling book, a nifty solar powered phone charger and more.

    We’re also pleased to announce that the wonderful Karen Curr​a​n has been judged the major winner, with her awesome contribution of 20 valuable learnings from her years in business. For that, Karen scores the Toshiba Portege Ultrabook ($1,499 RRP).

    All winners have been notified directly and the ​prize ​packs will be post​ed​ out ​in the second half of ​January.

    Plus, to help us all learn from the wisdom of the crowd, we’ve compiled the best tips and ideas into a ​free eBook. Whether you’re a start up, or an existing business looking to rejuvenate, we’re sure you’ll find some gold in this​ ​report.

    Click here to download the eBook now.

    Th​e​ challenge was all part of 'Productivity Month' held throughout November on Flying Solo ​and was ​proudly supported by DOT (Digital Office Technology)™ from Telstra.

    For details, visit telstra.com/dot

    Thanks again for getting involved. Love your work!

    Robert and the team at Flying Solo
    4 people like this.
  15. Steve_Minshall

    Steve_Minshall Well-Known Member

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    Well done Karen, congratulations.
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  16. Mary Gardam

    Mary Gardam Active Member

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    Congratulations Karen!
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  17. The Copy Chick

    The Copy Chick Renowned Member

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    Congratulations Karen!

    And a big thanks to the FS team for selecting me for a productivity pack too. Keeping an eager eye on the post :)

    Merry Christmas to you all!
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  18. Tessa Hartnett

    Tessa Hartnett Member

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    I would have put better systems in place from the start. Think big and grow into them.
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  19. Devy@FrenchSpeak

    [email protected] Member

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    Hi all,

    Thanks for an awesome thread, it's been a great read.

    November has been and gone, but I'll add my 2 cents all the same.

    If I were starting over, I would not have chased so many diverse client groups, which all require tailored product offerings. A lot of effort has been spent on developing courses where it's later become evident that chasing after some client groups is just too costly (in terms of time involved).

    Hindsight is wonderful, but I do sometimes imagine what my business would look like if I had focused those efforts instead on building a language school which just provided "core" services.
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  20. Tristan

    Tristan Member

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    Specialise. I tried to do too much too early. I should have picked on area and focused only on that.
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