“The mistakes we make are someone else’s lessons learned.”
When I started up my business, I thought it would be just like being employed, boy I was so wrong. In fact, it is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my professional life by far.
I had to learn, and re-learn so many things, wear so many hats, encounter so many mistakes and pay the price for countless failures.
Along the way, I also met some incredible people that are now close friends and lost some people that have taught me valuable lessons on trust and accountability.
The journey, in general, has forced me to grow as a person, change my perspective and change my mindset. Now, I was already pretty successful as an employee in a business, but this new business start-up experience was on another level.
It took me back to when I was just a kid, learning constantly, being able to dream. However, I wish I had some form of guidance or knowledge to help me through the start-up phase of my journey.
Now it’s only been a couple of years but I have grown so fast and made so many mistakes so I decided to share some of the things that I have experienced in the past two years that have taught me valuable and expensive lessons all at the same time. Some of which have made me grow and some made me change my perspective in life and business.
Why I am sharing this?
Learn as much as you can from others, including their mistakes and always be willing to help others on their journey.
The main purpose of this article is to help someone starting up a business or already in the start-up phase or maybe just struggling to grow and develop have an insight, some guidance how to build the right foundation for the journey ahead.
Unfortunately, there are some people in the business world that will take advantage of the lack of knowledge and understanding of your start-up business acumen, there are a lot of sharks out there ready to eat you up at the first sign of weakness and not even blink an eye.
“When you learn, teach when you get, give.”
Networking: When I moved back to Scotland after being away for over 22 years, I literally didn’t have any form of network, I actually did not really understand the term “networking”, I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know the basics of starting up a company in Scotland. I really thought that based on my products, experience and credentials, everybody would want my business, I would be able to sell to anyone, I was so wrong. I started out networking almost 2 or 3 times a day every day. Don’t get me wrong, I met some great people whom I am still in touch with today, some of which are now friends. Networking is a very valuable part of business development, but most people just do it all wrong.
The Do’s: If you want to grow your business, evaluate, test and measure the outcomes of the networking events you attend. Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone and have the courage to introduce yourself to different people. Prepare your pitch for when being asked: “What is it you do?”.
At the start, you will feel as uncomfortable and anxious as you will ever feel, but trust me it gets better, I know, with the high level of confidence I have, it was also very uncomfortable for me at the start, but as the time goes by, as with anything in life, the more you do it the more normal it starts to become. Choose your Networking events carefully as they can and will grow your business if followed with a strategic plan.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”………..
The Don’ts: Like most people, if you want to make friends and delay your business growth, keep going to the same networking events repeatedly, hanging around with the same people, having the same conversations. As above, you will make good friends, but you will not grow your business to the heights it deserves & requires. You MUST consistently seek new prospects, ask great questions and evaluate their needs, then and only then will you accelerate your business growth.
Marketing: Marketing is one of the most important pivotal points in any business. You must have a marketing budget to grow your business and take it to the next level.
Without marketing, your business will not have any presence and you will struggle to build or grow a business. Having said that, be prepared that you will not get it right at the first attempt, keep doing going, make small incremental changes until you get it right, the mistakes you encounter along the way will develop your resilience and build upon your own marketing message/skills
The Do’s: Social media strategies are very important but do not be forced into believing you need to be on every platform all the time, decide who your target market is and focus your message on the platform that is most suitable to this message. For me, we are extremely active on two specific platforms, but with two very different messages. Having said that, even after two years, we are still testing and measuring, so don’t be afraid to try.
I don’t know it all and I am sure I don’t get right all the time either, but if you are not willing to try, you are not willing to grow.
Before you enrol in any type of commitment or service, do your research and try to get up to 3 quotes from different companies to ensure that you are not being overcharged. Do your due diligence and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The Don’ts: Don’t enrol or buy a marketing system that is not fit for purpose.
Let me explain; There are many people out there that will promise you the world and pray on your lack of knowledge, they will try to push a system that is just not suitable for the size of your business or your actual requirements. Do your homework and if your gut instinct tells you not to do something, don’t do it. But be aware that it is your gut instinct that is speaking to you and not the fear of deciding. If in doubt, just delay the process for a day or so and revisit it once you fully understand the advantages and disadvantages it brings and the value it adds.
I have spent thousands of pounds falling into the trap of false promises/under-delivering on expectations. Always be very clear and specific about your expectations of delivery and value, make sure to document in writing prior to any exchange of fees or long-term commitment. Constantly measure the service and if you are not happy with the outcomes and you don’t see any results communicate your concerns.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a trial period, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Business Funding/Loans/Government Support: Trying to get a loan from a bank, it is a nightmare. It is all about what they can take from you, rather than the other way around, my personal experience only. Starting up a business is a lonely place, especially if you don’t have any form of a network around you to support, advise and guide you. You have no idea what is available out there in terms of business funding and what type of help is available for you. You don’t even know where to start looking unless you have first created a trusting network. Again, be careful who is giving you the information and what is going to cost you.
If you can get a loan/grant instead of using your savings, go for it!
Business Gateway: Business Gateway is great for those who have no business experience, no social media experience what so over.
All government funding/loans/grants information are available through Business Gateway, however, they will only pass the information on once you ask. If you are lucky, you will get assigned a great business advisor who will be there for you, support you and try to help you whenever is possible.
Below is some of the funding/loans/grant’s organization that I was NOT aware of until only recently,
Government Loans and Funds:
- DSL Business Loans
- North Lanarkshire Grants
- BLS Business Loans
- Scottish Enterprise Grants and Funds
- Digital Development Loan
Non-Government Loans and Funds: If you have tried to get a loan from a bank and you didn’t succeed, try the below and see what kind of help you can get
- Business and Property Development Loans (Ask for Mike Savage)
- Business Start-up Loan under 2 years
- Business Start-up Loan 6 to 23 months
To be continued…….. Next week’s article will be about the following subjects: 1. Media Platforms, 2. Planning, 3. Growth and Coaching
Interested to find out more, message me. I will then happily arrange a FREE strategy call with you, after which we will decide together on the best course of action.
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