Home Forums Get productive If you could start your business again, what would you do differently?

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    Peter – FS Administrator
    • Total posts: 1,889

    Hi all,

    In late 2013 we ran Productivity Month on Flying Solo where we asked the community to answer the question:

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

    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’ve compiled this eBook collating all the tips and ideas we received.


    Thanks for getting involved!

    Peter (and the FS crew)

    • Total posts: 133

    A little less niche

    As an online retailer, I think I would have chosen a less “niche” product! As much as I love my business, I think I could have made it easier on myself. There’s “niche” and there’s “a little too niche!”

    Apart from that, I’d probably do things pretty much the same because it’s working.

    • Total posts: 32

    Reduce my initial product range

    hi..well only been in my online baby store biz 7 weeks….but im already thinking I should niche down a bit…sell 1 or 2 products not 150!!! too much competition im finding

    • Total posts: 692

    Research, research and more research…

    There’s a number of things I’d do differently.

    Research, research and more research is the top thing I’d do differently. I wouldn’t just follow people blindly.

    I’d be far more careful with my money ensuring I actually had a cash flow rather than just leaving it to chance.

    If I did follow people blindly I’d be more careful with who I followed and make sure I didn’t price myself out of the market. I figured out I’ve been following a large bookseller who has the energy, backup and nous to make it work for her, I have none of those things and I should have continued smaller rather than trying to expand as she did.

    Warren Cottis
    • Total posts: 807

    Engage a mentor sooner!

    Hi Peter

    Engage a mentor sooner… then a better mentor… then a better mentor and so on

    • Total posts: 518

    Invest in measurable advertising and more…

    Only invest in advertising who’s results can be measured quickly and tested on a small scale.

    Invest more capital up front to accelerate the start up phase (easier to say with the security of hind sight).

    Get my Initial Website and AdWords campaigns built in tandem and ready to go before opening.

    Create my Website with both an SEO and an AdWords landing page plan.

    Find out which trade body I can join that gives me merchant facilities savings as a member with greater savings than the cost of their membership.

    • Total posts: 1

    Developed my sales/marketing skills earlier

    I was happy with the planning and implementation I put into setting up my business which has been running for nearly 10 years with solid growth every year …until now.

    I now wish Id spent more time on my biggest area of weakness – my sales and marketing skills. These skills don’t get any easier to develop as you get “mature” (old dogs, new tricks etc). Also I wish that I had spent more time staying ahead of the technology and social media opportunities instead of following behind in it’s wake.

    As a positive at least I am in there exploring what I can do with Facebook, Twitter, apps etc and not ignoring them. I just have to work out what will work for me and what is an unproductive waste of my time.

    The Copy Chick
    • Total posts: 963

    Set up customer management systems

    Set up more comprehensive systems to keep track of clients, referrals, lead generation, etc. Looking to tackle this over the Christmas break.

    • Total posts: 18
    Warren Cottis, post: 176815 wrote:
    Hi Peter

    Engage a mentor sooner… then a better mentor… then a better mentor and so on

    Hi Warren,
    I’ve heard it many times – have a mentor.
    But I’m wondering, how do you go about identifying a mentor?

    And I’d be interested in your thoughts regarding whether the mentor should be a generalist or a technical specialist/related to your industry? or does a business need both?

    I’d welcome any thoughts.
    Thanks – and ‘happy Friday’ :)

    Peter – FS Administrator
    • Total posts: 1,889

    Maintained a detailed customer database

    Hi all,

    Thanks for diving straight in and getting involved – already some pearls of wisdom being shared and is shaping up to be a great collection of tips :)

    One thing I wish I’d done when originally starting up my writing business was to start and maintain a detailed customer database. I recall writing about this in a newsletter a few years ago…

    “Over the years you meet, email and work with hundreds or even thousands of clients, but unless you conscientiously maintain a database, it eventually all becomes a mess of cards, random email addresses and half-remembered names.

    A detailed and up-to-date database is a valuable tool for launching new services, starting email newsletters, keeping in touch with prospects and sharing valuable information with an interested audience. Maintaining it is a job that has to be done almost daily.”

    Problem is, that I still haven’t done it 10 years later :( Never too late I suppose?!?


    Jason Ramage
    • Total posts: 3,165

    Formed a network of experts before jumping in

    Great query..

    Personally, the one thing i would ideally love to implement (when i learn how to time travel) is to surround myself with the appropriate network of experts before i jump in.. In retrospect, we have accomplished much on our own although there is a blatant gap that if it was filled before the journey commenced, i might not have gone as wayward as i had recently :)

    In the genre of the post, its a positive reflection that i am happy to share because i have seen, heard and come across many prospective business ideas that are AWESOME and the people are FANTASTIC although the skill gaps (not surrounding themselves with right people or having appropriate coach/mentor) left a larger whole in the cash flow at start up than had to exist…

    Look forward to reading more.

    Jason ;)

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: hello@lucasarthur.net.au   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
    • Total posts: 19

    Automation, outsourcing, lead generation…

    • I would say from the beginning focus on the core and care less about the mechanics (automate and outsource where possible)
    • Lead Generation – capitalise more on existing relationships to build your leads. Continually build fresh mutual relationships and great referrals systems.
    • Use the power of leverage and provide a wider offering to existing clients.

    Usually at the start the majority of businesses, it’s all about marketing and sales. that’s what we have found when clients are using either our IT, SEO or Web Services.


    • Total posts: 70

    Figure out how WordPress works!

    In the start I created many websites that were unprofessional. I was so proud of the websites at the time!

    I finally sort of figured out how WordPress works, and paid someone on odesk to make me a WordPress website, using one of the themes.

    • Total posts: 500

    Don’t wait to be forced into business

    I would go into business for myself voluntarily, rather than by force, due to the business I was working for going into administration.

    I would work harder on ensuring that the lead generation process happens – whether I’m bogged down in actual programming or other work, or not!


    • Total posts: 1,691

    Do more business planning, outsource more…

    Hindsight is marvellous … I could write a whole blog on the things I’d do differently.

    The biggest for me, is that having high level skills, is very different from having a successful business.

    The first, does not necessarily convert to the second. I’d do more “business plan” homework, before jumping in.

    Outsource all book keeping and accounts control, and have better cash flow budgets (and stick to them). I’ve always been a “d” grade book keeper and credit manager.

    Walk away sooner from business ideas that suck, instead of flogging dead horses into the ground (see “business plan”).

    Never go near a bank for capital, or overdraft finance, until there’s proven sustainable cash flow.

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