As a soloist who is about to start your own business, you have the advantage of being able to learn from those who have gone before. The business success statistics are well known: a staggering 40% of all new businesses fail within the first 12 months. Within five years, more than 80% will have failed.
Here’s ten ideas on how to start your own business and avoid that fate.
1. Define your unique point of difference
Why will a customer come to you instead of anybody else? Are you better, more accurate, cheaper, more convenient, easy to install? Whatever your unique difference is, this is the question that, once answered, becomes the basis of all of your marketing messages.
2. A powerful vision
Why are you in business in the first place? What’s the inspirational dream that convinced you to go out on your own? There may be times when you doubt yourself, but if your vision is strong, it will be the thing that sees you through those times.
3. Repeatable, scalable systems
Any activity that occurs more than once in your business needs a system or process so it gets performed exactly the same way, every single time. This consistency means that you can handle extra volumes in the most efficient way, and that the customer gets the same experience (hopefully a great one!), every time they do business with you.
4. Love the numbers
You may not be an accountant, but you must have an overwhelming interest in the numbers side of your business. You don’t have to create the reports – outsource by all means – but you definitely need to look at your cashflow, budget and profit and loss on a monthly basis. And if you don’t know what it all means, get your bookkeeper to sit with you each month and explain your financial position.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business startup section.
5. Always add value to the customer’s experience
No matter what service or product you provide, you can be guaranteed that someone out there is trying to do it differently, better, or cheaper than you are. You must consistently focus on adding great value to your customers – always try and delight them in some way. Then they’ll never feel inclined to take their business elsewhere.
6. Continually add to your skills and knowledge
A business can only grow as quickly as the person who owns it. Your investment in your own development is super important. When you learn new skills and come across new ideas, you apply them in your business which in turn drives evolution and innovation.
The purpose of planning is simply to work out how to spend your time, money and other resources effectively. Without considered plans you may find yourself spinning your wheels, jumping from one priority to the next, or simply being undecided. Plans allow you to:
- prioritise activities
- step back from the day to day issues and take a longer term view, and
- anticipate problems before they arrive
8. Product innovation
All products have a defined life cycle. People’s needs change, and so must your products or services. Solo businesses have a tendency to retain unchanged products and services for too long. Be conscious of reframing, restructuring, or refreshing your offer on a regular basis.
9. Surround yourself with the right support
Successful business owners know what their skills are. They also know exactly what skills they don’t (and probably will never) have. Believe me, you are not ‘saving money’ by doing it all yourself, you are wasting time. Outsource those things that aren’t your specialty, and use that time to go and get some new business!
10. Stay close to your customers
The best people to give you feedback about how you are going are your customers. Successful soloists regularly ask their customers for feedback and ideas for improving what they do. And more importantly, they follow through on the feedback they get.
And just in case you haven’t already read it, can I suggest buying yourself a copy of Flying Solo, by Robert Gerrish and Sam Leader. You can never have too much great information!