Blimey, I’m very late with this blog, but I have some big news! I am 4 chapters away from completing my book, so I’ve been busy with that. There’s still a long way to go as I’ve got the edits, which will take time. I will need to read my book twice, once to make notes of all inconsistencies, flow and readability and a second time to correct all spelling and grammar. I then need to find someone (not family) who can read it with a critical eye before finding an agent to help me locate a publisher who will invest in my book and publish it. I envision walking into Waterstones and seeing my book on the shelves in time for Christmas 2023 (or maybe that’s in my dreams).
Enough of me, and onto the subject of my blog. Most of you know that Jamie and I ran our own business from 2008 until we retired earlier this year. It was successful; it provided us with a lifestyle we enjoyed, and more importantly, it allowed us to keep topping up our pensions in preparation for our retirement. We started our business from scratch, and I want to share with you ten tips that made us successful.
- Spend as little as possible. Try to spend only a little money setting up your business until you start earning it. This is my number one piece of advice. We bought two basic laptops, two second-hand desks and chairs, a subscription to a cloud-based database, a Microsoft exchange subscription and our website hosting, and that was it. When we started to make money, we invested more. For instance, we didn’t lease office space until 12 months in when we had money in the bank so we would be able to meet the contractual period for the lease.
- Design your website. We visited a business start-up exhibition to listen to the experts. There were some excellent speakers, and we discovered some great tips. We were lucky enough to win a competition for a logo design too. On receipt of the logo, we wrote our website content and designed our company brand, we didn’t hire an expensive marketing company, and this was enough to begin with. When we made money, we invested in a design company and launched an improved website.
- Prepare a detailed business plan. Consider who your business plan is for. It may be aimed at potential investors, attracting business partners or simply for personal reference in developing your business. Ours was for personal use; we decided right at the onset that we didn’t want to raise investment; we were building a lifestyle business without the pressure of outside influence. You can use templates online to guide you through the business planning process.
- Know your target market. Market segmentation is critical; you need to know to whom you are selling. Trying to sell to everyone doesn’t work. We were B2B (business to business), and our target customers were technology companies with less than 500 employees. If your business is B2C, your market segmentation might be walkers and hikers, for example.
- Marketing is essential. Think about how you will let your target market know what you are selling. Your solution must address a need.
- Invest in a database. Most databases are cloud-based so you can access your information anytime, anywhere. They are mostly sold on a subscription basis; we chose Salesforce.com. It’s essential that you can track the results of your marketing effort. Information is key
- Network. I’m presuming you have some knowledge in the area of your business. For example, if you’ve been a professional sportsperson and are setting up a coaching business, you will have a vast network of people you know whom you need to talk to about your business—the more people who know what you do, the better.
- Keep it simple. You must articulate your business in two sentences and write a mission statement. It’s incredibly dull when someone takes 30 minutes to tell you what they do. This needs to be replicated on your website. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read a website and don’t know what they do. I like this mission statement from an airline – Connect people to what’s essential in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
- Work hard. Whilst our business was a lifestyle business, we mostly worked from 8 am until 6 pm 5 days a week. Now, you might say that’s not my kind of lifestyle, but it did enable us to go away 3 or 4 times a year. We could sit on a beach in Jamaica and still work; this suited us just fine
- Hire an accountant and do things properly. Your accountant will help with the company setup. He will also ensure your annual accounts are in order and the Inland Revenue is paid on time. Unless you understand contracts, don’t sign anything without taking advice. For example, we would never sign an agreement based on American law.
We also read a book called “2nd bounce of the ball”. We all know there will be a recession, and we set up our business in 2008, right in the middle of one of the most significant downturns in history. Read this book, its inspiring and tells you why a recession is a good time to start your new venture.
OK, so this was quick and snappy, but I’m happy to answer any questions if my readers want more detail.
On a final note, I’ve started to focus more on gut health. The theories linking gut health and autoimmunity have been evolving for several decades, but the research is now getting us much closer to an answer. The diversity and composition of the gut microbiota are critical drivers of gut health. Study directly links the presence or absence of microbes in the gut to specific autoimmune diseases. So, I’m now drinking loads of Kefir, and I’ve bought a jar of Sauerkraut, it looks disgusting, but I’ll let you know how I get on 😊.
It’s beginning to cost a lot like Christmas, until next time. xxxx
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