*This post is a collaboration with Twill, but all thoughts and experiences are my own
If you know me in person or have followed me here for a while, you will know that I have a business, alongside the blogging that I do, and social media work. A few years ago, I started a wraparound childcare business at the school that my children attend, because there simply wasn’t any! Let’s face it, in Surrey, there is a big need for this as the majority of parents both work, and there was no existing provision.
Things have definitely not been smooth sailing, especially with a pandemic thrown into the mix. Keeping a new business afloat in the current economic climate is a challenge. Prices are rising, which means costs are increasing, and some people are going to be spending less.
Even with the pandemic aside, running a business and taking care of all aspects yourself is a long and hard slog. You’re not only the director of the business, but as it is very much a small business, I’m the one doing payroll, admin, and invoicing, as well as the paperwork for the childcare side of things, making sure we’re all up to date and complying with Ofsted regulations. Not to mention having staff and making sure they’re trained and looked after and that all shifts are covered with the right number of people.
These things go for any small business, no matter what kind of business you have. You might have to deal with things like customs clearance for a small business that sells and ships products, to thinking about packaging and how to be more sustainable as a business.
If you have a small business or are thinking of starting one, then here are some of the things that I wish that I had known, before I started.
Get a clear handle on budgeting
Budgeting is something that I have done in my daily life for years and years; it is something that most of us will do to make sure that we live within our means and only spend what we have. It is slightly different with a business because you have to think about cash flow and often you have to spend before you have any money coming in. The costs of things can really creep up if you’re not careful, and if you’re not aware of your budget or checking your cash flow, then it can lead to some issues, as well as stress. As long as you are budgeting and are always fully aware of what money is going out and what money will be due to come in, then it really helps to take the stress out of things.
Plan how to expand the business
This might not be something that you think of when starting out with a business, but having plans for the growth of the business is important. Where do you want to take it? Do you want to be able to franchise out to others, open a store, or perhaps even go global with the business? Twill, an international logistics partner, and their Go Global Guide Campaign, is all about empowering small and medium-sized businesses to grow, thrive, and flourish as they take steps to go global and take businesses to other parts of the world. Of course, you might not think that right now’s the time to do those things, but as long as you have those things planned, you will have some direction for the business.
When you’re starting your own business it can feel a little like your own baby and you have big ideas and plans that are often quite specific. One thing that I have really had to think about is being open to change and being more flexible. I might have had grand plans that were heading in one direction, but things changed, pandemics happen, as well as other things, and flexibility is needed. If you’re too rigid with your plans, it could really impact your business in a negative way.
Don’t try and do everything yourself
Similar to the above point, being able to ‘let go’ is an important business strategy. Things can become too much, and life and circumstances change. When it came to having a baby and needing to take a bit of maternity leave, it was so hard for me to let go of certain aspects, as I had been so involved with the business for years on a daily basis. When there’s too much going on, and it is time to change and grow the business, you have two choices; hire someone else or do it all yourself, risking burnout and things not being done in a timely manner.
Getting help from others, whether it is an employee or contractors, can be something that really works. Then you can grow the business and really focus on what you’re doing, and then ‘jump in’ as and when you need to.
Businesses take a lot out of you, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to advice for new businesses. But if you’re able to plan well, monitor cash flow, and be prepared for change and improvements, such as going global, then you’ll give the business a good chance.
Yeah, business requires investments, and the problem is you can’t be completely sure all the investments will pay off. To reduce the risks, I would suggest minimizing the initial costs. Many people take out large loans to open a business, buy the necessary equipment, and then find themselves unable to pay the bills. It’s better to start a business without loans.
If you need equipment, look into lightly used items that you can get for a discount. You’d be surprised how much you can save on items that are practically as good as new, just because someone else has owned that product before you. Or, you may also want to consider renting equipment – this is a common practice for construction companies and medical facilities.
Cutting costs at the beginning will help you stay afloat when income is usually not very large.
If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, you’ll need to plan how to expand it. There are a number of ways to do this, and it all depends on what your business needs and wants. However, there are a few general tips that can help you get started. First, think about what you need in order to grow your business. This includes things like new products, a larger customer base, or new marketing strategies.