2013 marks my tenth year in business. For me that means:
- 10 years of being accountable to myself to get out of my PJ’s and into work every day
- 10 years of waking my partner up at 3am in the morning with yet another brilliant, earth-shattering, life-changing idea
- 10 years of learning how to ride the tiger and
- 10 years of people telling me how lucky I am to own my own business… if only they knew.
At least I guess I’ve had fewer hangovers than my mates. A lot of the time I was working when they were out partying! It’s a lot of pressure to have on anyone’s shoulders, let alone me at twenty-something when I started. And that little negative bird that popped up all the time reminding you how 90% fail in the first 5 years, man I hated that bird! (I’m not entirely sure that statistic is true by the way!) But boy, I did the biggest hoola-hoop dance when I made it past the 5-year mark. If Gangnam style was around back then, I would have so owned it. If you’re as insane as I am and thinking about going into business, or perhaps you’ve already jumped on the roller coaster ride of self-employment, then keep reading. I promise you, it does get easier.
Here are my top 27 tips for staying sane in small business:
- There’s no such thing as luck in small business. You have to work for it. Bloody hard.
- Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Especially with banks, accountants and solicitors.
- Enjoy the initial rush of being outside your comfort zone. And don’t ever lose it. If you do, you’re probably becoming stagnant and boring. The magic happens when you’re outside your comfort zone.
- Profit is not a rude word. It should be your number one objective at every turn except when you’re being charitable of course.
- Learn how to ride the waves and roll with the punches. Before you start stressing out too much about issues that arise, ask yourself “will I care about this in 12 months?” If the answer is ‘no’, move on and don’t let it affect your day too much. It’s not worth the grief. 90% of the stuff you worry about will never eventuate, so divert your energy into better things.
- Celebrate your wins, big and small. Reward yourself regularly, even if cash is tight. Find a way – you deserve it. And don’t be afraid to shout your wins from the rooftops either. This isn’t always easy. The tall poppy syndrome is rife in the land down under, or maybe that’s just a small town thing. Over the years I found myself always downplaying wins to make other people feel better. What’s with that?? So don’t feel bad or guilty when things are going great!
- Cash flow is King. Master your money. Watch every penny in and out like a hawk.
- Use your cash flow to invest in external investments to generate additional revenue streams. Look at your business as a tool in a toolbox to help you realise your dreams.
- Always pay yourself first. This took me years to master and the message really hit home when I read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad‘ by Robert Kiyosaki.
- Educate yourself daily. When I really upped the ante on courses and self-development, my profit (and reputation) also sky rocketed.
- Get a mentor. I got one very early on and paid a small fortune each month, but every penny was so worth it. It put my business on the fast track to success. I still use his lessons today.
- Create a vision board. We put a photo of a helicopter on our vision board and 6 month’s later we bought one. I’m not telling you this to brag, I’m telling you this because it works. Somehow those pictures keep you on track and moving towards your goals. We thought the chopper was a 6-year goal, not 6 months. No joke!
- Choose your team wisely. Attitude far outweighs ability.
- Get the work/life balance in check. In the early days I often worked 100+ hours a week. Whilst I don’t regret it, I wouldn’t recommend it now. You do have to work hard, don’t get me wrong, but your efficiencies will drop immensely, you’ll get sick, tired and run-down and you’ll start to resent your business. So now I work about 60-70 hours a week and although that still sounds like a lot compared to the typical 40-hour week, it works for me. I am trying to build an empire after all!
- Take holidays (overseas if you can). We used to go overseas once a year. I believe leaving the country always does something positive for your mind. On the way home I’d always have this outer-body experience allowing me to look at my business from above. Always have a notebook handy as this is when I’d scribble down a hundred ideas for improvement.
- Exercise regularly. I spent way too many years sitting on my butt in front of my computer and now that I head to the gym 5-6 times a week, my mind is a lot sharper. I’m a lot less stressed, my back doesn’t ache as much and I’m all round a happier being.
- Did I mention cash flow is King? For example, it’s not just want you get in, but what you spend. Learn how to save money in areas like online marketing, it’s actually not that hard to DIY. If you’re interested, over at Web123 we wrote an article called how to implement champagne marketing activities on a beer budget which might help to save some cash.
- Hire slow, fire fast.
- Don’t employ friends or family.
- Put 80% of your efforts into sales and marketing. I wish I’d have done this from the start. If you focus most of your effort on sales, you’ll have the cash flow to further grow and develop your business and lifestyle the way you want.
- Don’t doubt yourself. Have faith in your ability. Whatever you can think, you can create. And whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you’ll be right.
- Visualise for 20 minutes every morning before getting out of bed. Whether it be your goals like that big house overlooking the islands, or a big project you need to bring to fruition, or even just a simple task you’re stumped on, I find that visualising how it could work helps me achieve great things in a short space of time. Just force your mind to see the end result then work backwards to deliver to you the way to do it. Give it a go. It really does work.
- Make yourself redundant. A great business is one that doesn’t rely on you. Always be developing systems and working towards the business running without you.
- Read, learn and watch webinars instead of watching TV. I think you actually use more brain cells sleeping than you do watching TV. It’s fine every now and again for a chill-out sesh, however your time would be far better spent investing in yourself.
- Share the big picture and end goal or vision with your team. It helps bring your goals to fruition more than you can believe.
- Plan. Plan. Plan. Oh and did I mention to plan? Our business exploded when we planned out the next 5 years in detail, then broke it down into bite sized quarterly tasks. I wrote a little piece on how to start planning over at Web123’s small business websites blog, the article is called planning for online success you might find it interesting!
- Have fun and enjoy the ride. Life’s not a dress rehearsal; if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You’ve got to live your dream. And if where you’re at right now is not it, change direction. Anyone can do anything these days; your future really is in your hands. No excuses.
Being in business is totally worth it and the pleasures always outweigh the pains… even if at times you want to strangle your boss.
After 10 years, I’ve finally realised that I don’t have some sort of personality disorder and I don’t have unhealthy sadomasochistic tendencies. I’m just a normal entrepreneur and yes, it has its highs and its lows, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Are you a fellow entrepreneur? What have you learned? Share your ideas with me below. I’d love to hear them.