What is it that makes small businesses succeed whereas others fail? I am a big believer of following your hearts desire because in 15 years of coaching I came to the conclusion that the best business is worth little if you don’t enjoy doing what you doing. Especially when it comes to starting small business: you’re not only the producer or service provider, in many cases when you start out you are director, marketing, PR, HR all in one. Whether you are a dentist or start your cupcake business, starting a small business requires managing multiple duties all at once. I started my career with the medical publishing company. We were five people. I was the managing director. Fortunately, I had studied business administration and in fact, it helped me in certain ways, even though during my studies I felt like most of what we learned was common sense. It isn’t! It does makes sense to know about marketing, financing, budgeting and how to write a business plan. However, there is more to running a small business than theoretical know-how put into practice. Having to act as a multi-talent when you first start out small requires high degree of managing yourself. You may learn about time management. However, nobody teaches you at university how to manage your energy. And this is critical to survive and not only to be financially successful but to stay happy, healthy and able to enjoy your success. After having experienced burn out, divorce and cancer, I invented a new small business as a “Walking Coach” to coach people to do better longterm. Nobody believed in me. But I knew, it was important to do it. Not only because I believed in it, but for people to manage not only their business but their lives better.
My clients where executives and small business owners who needed to learn to include that second part into the equation: how to do business while staying healthy and happy.
Here are my top five tips for small businesses:
- A solid business plan
You don’t have to study business in order to write a business plan. The Business plan is only a notional projection of what you estimate. Some people think it’s an estimate only, it’s all fictitious. I don’t know if this is going to be the case, so why bother at all. Well, there’s a good reason: writing down what you assume to be selling e.g. in the next three, six ,12 or 24 months requires you to visualize your target market and competition. You start thinking in a different way: how much do you have to sell in what time to make it? How would people find out about me? What makes them buy from me and not from my competitors? What makes my service or products so special? What needs do I fulfil? What is the adequate pricing, how much is my customer willing to invest in order to purchase my service, buy what I offer?
This leads to the question of how to finance the process. You will need a liquidity plan in order to survive until the business is established and probably there after, to keep surviving or expanding. What will be your monthly costs? What will be your estimated sales? What’s your investment? How many people would have to be hired? Or are you good doing it all by yourself? If so, do you have enough time in a day to do what it takes to produce, market and administer? How much money do you need make to pay for all the costs and investments and make a living? What’s your breakeven? Calculate and project your cashflow over the first years!
Does the business you’re planning to do reflect your talents, what are you are good at? Are you aware of potential weaknesses and how will you deal with them? Do you have an exit strategy or do you see yourself spending your life in that business? Is the business aligned with your beliefs? What is important to you? Even if you don’t know how to manage everything it takes to run the business yet, you will probably be learning by doing. Many very successful people never studied business. But they had a dream, a vision, a picture in their mind that made them feel good, that made them believe it is worth going ahead, that made them feel their heart beat higher. Something that they were enthusiastic about. Whether this is a Lady who starts writing, because she loves it and ends up writing Harry Potter or a cupcake franchise that started out selling cupcakes on the market. Some kind of vision, belief and passion fuels the ride to make it over the financial risk, possible labor pain and get over mountains of initial challenges.
Soft skills and human qualities are indispensable in any business that has somehow to do with other people. Personally, I can’t think of a business that doesn’t. Even a programmer has to deal with clients. Starting a small business you will probably deal with many people: not only connections that help you get your business up and running, but people you deal with on a daily basis. You are your public relations, your representative, marketer and head of your business. If you are not yet a people person, become one by learning about other people’s thoughts, beliefs, habits and needs. It is not only good for your business, but for your happiness. Compassionate people are happier people!
4. Change Mountain and Sea View
In martial arts you have one very important strategy: Mountain and Seaview change. It refers to the ability to regularly change perspective. You need to watch the details and you have to step aside on the regular basis to see the big picture. While being in the process of producing you need to be the observer of the process. Are you still on track? Do you need to adjust your business plan or change strategy? Do you get lost in details? Or do you have no time to care enough for details? Are you still in tune with your basic values? Are you treating people the way you want to be treated? Or are you selling your soul to pay the bills? Does the production process need to be improved? Can it be done easier? Can you do certain meetings on Skype? Get mentoring? Are you working effectively or only efficiently? Are you working in your business or are you running your business?
If you can’t think clearly because you’re overworked you won’t be able to make good decisions. Just like the business plan projects numbers into the future you must consider how to deal with your time and energy. There is only so much, one can do. It is absolutely necessary to take care of yourself, not just business. Make sure to keep up some healthy habits to not burn yourself out. Especially, if you are very passionate about your business, believe you have to work hard to the deserve success, or do you have a tendency to ignore your own needs and feelings, you’re at high risk to become a workaholic. Once everything in your life is about business, you’re at high-risk for burnout, heart attack or psychosomatic diseases. Plan time out right from the beginning. Dedicate quality time for yourself, your family and friends. Walk to work, park away from the office and use the time to just breathe, or meditate. Watch your coffee and alcohol consume. Learn to relax instead of using drugs to relax your mind. Surfing the Internet, social media and high TV consume may distract but not really relax the mind. Self-mastery is key for long-term success of your business and private life. Learn something new. Choose activities for the sake of having fun. Get into some form of practice, such as smooth exercise, meditation, tai chi, chikung or yoga. Get fresh air daily. Eat well. Not too much, not too little. Provide what your body needs. Eat when you eat, don’t do anything else.
Learn to master yourself and administer your energy. Establishing small healthy habits makes a lot of sense long term. You do not only want to be successful, you also want to be able to enjoy your success. The path is made by walking…
Feel free to get in contact for any questions!
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