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Do's and don'ts of small business

Being your own boss means you have to not only make all the decisions, but you’re responsible for dealing with the consequences of those decisions.

It’s easy to make the wrong choice, even when at the time it absolutely looks like the right thing to do. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but that doesn’t help you when you’re trying to work out the best next step to progress or grow your business.

Here are some of the do's and don’ts we’ve come across to help you deal with some of those everyday stumbling blocks.

Do's and don'ts of small business

Don’t take anything personally

Your business is your baby. You created it, grew it, looked after it. So, when someone says something bad about your business or they decide not to use your services after all, it can sting a little bit.

It’s best not to take this as a personal affront. Listen to the feedback and try and see if you can turn that around and benefit your business and future customers. Take the criticism or rejection on board, learn what you can and move on.

Do be persistent

No isn’t always the final answer. Sometimes, you need to take a rejection, rethink your strategy and have another go. Often, the initial no is because you’ve missed something, or during negotiations you suddenly discover a different way of doing the work that’s actually much better or more efficient.

The same goes for trying to branch out and offer a new product or service. You might have to do a little more research, go back to the drawing board more than once, and accept that failure isn’t necessarily the end of the road. Keep going and you’ll often be rewarded for persevering.

Do have a strong work ethic

There’s no two ways about it: running a business takes work. A lot of it. If you’re working on your own, everything is your problem and everything is your job. You need to motivate yourself, since there is no one else who will tell you to get a move on. Cultivating a strong work ethic means delivering on time, consistently satisfactory services to your customers. And happy customers are customers who come back, which is good for business. None of your customers will care much if you just don’t feel like it today. Keeping your delivery promises means you build a reputation for being reliable and in business, a good reputation is invaluable.

Don’t take on too much

There are times when you feel like you can take on the world. Especially when you’re new, it’s easy to overbook yourself. Spreading yourself too thing could mean you actually don’t complete anything, or you do but none of the jobs you do are up to scratch.

Do get support

You’d be surprised how much you can get done when you set your mind to it. However, some things are best left to the experts. DIY-ing legal matters, for example, is not a good idea and it’ll probably end up costing you more time and money than if you sought professional help to begin with. Make sure you have somewhere to go for reliable services and expert advice.

Do get everything in writing

Unfortunately your word is your bond isn’t legally binding. Make sure that you get everything in writing. And make sure you read the small print!

Get paperwork reviewed by a legal expert if necessary so you know you’ve covered all bases and protected yourself and your business.

Do something every day

It’s the old “how do you eat an elephant” thing. The answer? One piece at a time.

Big tasks can seem overwhelming when viewed as a whole, but, when you break it down into manageable pieces, you’ll soon discover it isn’t as bad as you thought.

Write down what you need to do, and schedule a little dedicated time every day to do what you said you would. This applies to everything from filing to working out a social media strategy for your business. If you have a plan and time set aside, you’re much more likely to just get on with it rather than look for another excuse to not do it today.

Do something you love

Sounds obvious but your business should be in something you are passionate about. There is no point following someone else’s path just because it worked out so nicely for them.

You have to enjoy what you’re doing. That’s why you’re starting your own business, isn’t it? So you can do something you want to? Make absolutely sure that you enjoy the venture and you’ll automatically be more inclined to put in extra effort and make it a success.

Don’t expect instant success

Often, when struck with a really brilliant idea we’re absolutely sure can’t fail, it’s incredibly discouraging to not see an immediate return on your investment of time and money. You’ve done the research, everyone agreed it’s a great idea, so where is all the business?

The truth is that building a business takes time. You need to get your name out there, get people to associate you with your particular field, and build up a solid reputation. Overnight successes are few and far between but keep going and you’ll carve out a place of your own. There’s enough success going around for everyone.

Do be willing to fail

Sometimes things go wrong. That’s just life. No matter how sure we were or how much work we put into it, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

Accepting this to be the case and moving on from failure is the easiest way to build resilience. Look at what went wrong and why, and work out how you can do it differently next time.

Don’t fear the unknown

It’s easy to become comfortable. Doing the things you know how to or working in the same environment is like a safety net and why mess with it if it isn’t broken.

However, in order to evolve your business you need to step outside of what you know and try something different. There’s no need to go crazy, you just need to test the waters and see if you can offer a new service or product. You might uncover an unexplored corner of the market that can bring new business your way and make the tiny bit of discomfort worth it.

Do offer amazing service

People appreciate feeling special. And customers like knowing that they will get the same service from you the 7th time around as the first.

Have a clear strategy for what you offer and how you’ll create a unique customer experience. Wow your customers regardless of the size of the business and you’ll stand out from your competitors.

Don’t ignore negative feedback

It’s pretty hard to hear someone say you didn’t do a good job. Criticism can be hard to take, but you need to take a look at what was said and use it to make your business better.

Ignore someone who is telling you how to improve is not a good idea. Look at the critique, don’t take it personally, and decide if it’s something that will actually benefit your business. Then use it.

Do invest in social media

Like it or loathe it, social media isn’t going anywhere soon. Ignore it at your peril.

Being present on social media gets you out there. People will notice you and they will begin to associate your products or service with certain situations. Register an account on one or two platforms (don’t try and be everywhere – it will be a full time job of its own!) and start posting and talking to people.

Use your social media accounts for conversation, Follow the 70/30 rule: 70% other people’s works or advice, and 30% your own. Make sure your presence adds something o the conversation. Don’t just sell, give some advice, comment on similar posts, just build a presence.

Do embrace your individuality

In today’s world, you can do a search for very nearly everything and find hundreds of pages of matches. It can feel like you are trying to be the proverbial needle in a haystack when you first start out. Know what? The needle is a needle. In a stack of hay. That means it stands out. And so should you. What are your unique selling points? What do you do differently than everyone else?

Focus on your unique selling point and make it part of your offering.

These are just a few tips to try and help you navigate your way through starting a business. Remember, you can’t avoid mistakes altogether, but you can learn, from your own and others, to make your business thrive.

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