Always promote your business
Potential clients need to know you’re available, and what you can offer. After all, no clients means no work, which can be troublesome when those pesky bills are due!
So be clear, right from the start, on what it is that you can do. Honest confidence goes a long way to winning new business, and you never know the possibilities that can arise from chance encounters.
Attend organised networking events, or stay switched on for social occasions where new contacts might be made. Following up on leads, and nurturing every scrap of business that you do get hold of, are both essential. So be tenacious.
A simple website is handy for most businesses, depending on the size and nature of operation. Social media accounts set up especially for your business will demonstrate professionalism, and help your contacts to share your work to their own networks.
Organise your business from day one
If you’re operating as a sole trader then you don’t legally need a business bank account. That said, having a seperate account is an easy way to keep things organised.
Always keep track of track of your expenses and earnings right from the start. Yes, it’s time consuming (and a bit boring) but don’t kid yourself that you’ll catch up with it all in a couple of months.
If you’re really struggling, consider bookkeeping software like Pandle (who are partners of ours, and really jolly good).
Countless business owners who have learned this lesson the hard way will agree that staying on top of the books makes things much less stressful later. For example, a rushed tax return is much more likely to be incorrect or incomplete. It’s also the only way to ensure an essential, real-time overview of the finances.
Organising your workload is important too. Always err on the generous side when estimating how much time a project will take (if not in your estimate, then always on your calendar). Be sure to allow extra time for the unexpected equipment failure, illness, or boiler break down.
Be mindful of your work/life balance from the start
Try to get into good habits straight away. If you’re working from home, a separate workspace, if at all possible, is important. Being able to walk away from your workspace and even better, shut the door on it, is essential for preserving the distinction between home life and work life, and promoting a good work/life balance. Working outside your home sometimes, whether it’s in a café, library, rented office or co-working space, is even better.
While flexibility is one of the great advantages of being the boss, you’ll need some structure in order to get the work done and ensure you’re not still working in what should be chill time—or doing too much chilling while procrastinating about work! Decide what hours you’ll work tomorrow, next week etc. and stick to them. There will always be times when you have to work extra hours or take some time off, but these should be exceptions.
Being the one in charge, or the only one on the team, can be lonely and isolating. This is particularly true if you predominantly work by yourself from home, and this can affect your mental health.
Remember that socialising with others isn’t just important for good mental health, it’s also an important way of making contacts and building a network that could introduce you to potential work.
Local, industry-specific or business groups can also sometimes help you with technical and legal issues, and give you access to special deals and services.
Be prepared to say no
When you’re desperate for new clients and plenty of work (and most new businesses are!), it’s tempting to say yes to everything. But there will be clients who expect too much or pay too little. Clients who are vague, rude, unresponsive, unreliable or unreasonable. Work that bores you rigid or isn’t worthy of your talents.
In these circumstances, you need to learn to say no (even if you said yes the first time). Saying no doesn’t mean being rude, nor does it necessitate long explanations or excuses. Just politely turn the work down.