How to be your own great boss
We all dream of being our own boss, but only some of us have made it a reality. For those who haven't made the jump yet: Come on in, the water's fine.
If you want to beat the odds and have your small business succeed though, it will depend entirely on you. Here are the 10 things you have to do well:
1. Sell. Not just your product, and not just to your customer. You are selling yourself to investors, your plan to your employees, and your expertise to everyone. Unless you know how to sell ideas, you aren't ready to be on your own.
2. Deliver on time, what you promised, every time. The surest way to lose a customer is to under deliver.
3. Market effectively (and wisely). Your message is critical. What are you selling, math? So are all the other accountants. What you need to sell is convenience, or speed, or accuracy, or a friendly face. Find out what you really sell in addition to arithmetic, and make that your marketing message.
4. Prioritize everything. If you think you need to run out and buy fancy equipment, you're probably wrong. Take the accountant, for instance: all she really needs is a pencil and her knowledge. When she's made a sale, she can buy a calculator (to make the next job quicker). After the next sale she can buy a business card (to make getting customers easier). Decide what the minimum requirements are for you and stick with those until you begin making money.
5. Produce your paycheck. This depends entirely on how much you can accomplish. Find ways to be more productive without sacrificing quality. (Remember: If there isn't time to do it right the first time, you'll always find time to do it over.)
6. Spend wisely. You will be swamped with calls from people selling everything from copiers to seminars. If you stick with the essentials, you'll see you don't need most of what they're peddling.
7. Adapt. Things happen. You have to overcome the obstacles and deliver what you promised to deliver.
8. Recognize opportunity. This one takes practice. Legitimate opportunities rarely show up at your door with a sign on. They're found when you recognize a need and find a way to fill it. Say your flower shop is next to an architect and you notice a courier comes by every day to pick up plans. You have a delivery van. Go talk to them, maybe you can deliver their plans while you're out.
9. Manage time. You have work to do. Unless you can find a way to be efficient, you'll have some needlessly long days ahead of you. Priorities come into play here.
10. Sell. Have you heard this one before? Read every book on sales that you can find, and practice, practice, practice.
Self-employment can be a rewarding experience, but it can also ruin you. Prior to sinking your life savings into a startup, find out if you can do it with half as much. You probably can. Lots of successful businesses have started with $100 and an idea. That being said, a small business can be remarkably easy to start - provided you stop dreaming and start doing. And stay smart.