BYOB is pretty much the dream. No, dummy, not Bring Your Own Bottle – rather, Being Your Own Boss.
It’s all well and good to have an idea for a business. If you’re an artist, you could sell copies of your prints. Freelance writer? Easy. Offer your services as a copywriter. Graphic designer… You get the idea.
But how do you make the leap from idea to actual real-life business? How do you make your business a real quantity, something that represents you as a creative, as well as an astutely-minded business person.
We’ve compiled some top tips for making your business idea a success – and we’ve also asked a few successful business-founders what they’d recommend, too.
1. Know what you’re offering
Have a brainstorming session and decide what, exactly, your business is going to provide. What services will you offer? How much will you charge? Do you want to work on your own or with a partner?
2. Establish an online presence
Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook… Get your business out there. Use keywords in your tweets and blogpost tags to guarantee that people will find you!
3. Don’t give up at the first hurdle
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t be disheartened if you haven’t had any sales or interest at the end of your first month. Simply look at what you have done and decide on how you can make it better.
4. Make the most of the resources you already have
If you’re pouring your heart and soul (and bank account…) into your venture, chances are you won’t have the most welcoming of bank balances. Instead of racking up debts by investing in your business, simply utilise what you already do have.
5. Be realistic
See point 3. I just thought I’d reiterate it again so as to emphasise that you shouldn’t give up easily! Yes, your business idea – your copywriting services, your freelance graphic design – is amazing, but chances are you’ll be slotting it in around work/study. Make sure you keep upto-date with all work, as well as meet all your goals and targets (whether it be a plan for a client or a 5,000 word essay) – not just the ones that seem most appealing!
Do you know anyone who’s set up a similar business and made it a success? Talk to them and find out how they did it. Equally, go to as many relevant events as possible and mingle; you never know who you could meet. Perhaps throw your own event – this is a great way to boost your business’s profile as well as meet like-minded people.
7. Do your research
Know who your customers are and what they want. Which of your products and services are selling best? Equally, know who your rivals are. What are they offering that you’re not? What do they do that’s different?
8. Use time effectively
Wave goodbyes to leisurely mornings spent flicking between Twitter, Facebook and the Daily Mail website. You need to focus on what you’re doing, and utilise your time as efficiently as possible. Make sure that every moment you spend working on your business is accounted for. Make a to-do list each morning and make sure you do it all!
9. Make sure your website is fully functional and kept up-to date
An irregularly updated website looks unprofessional. Equally, a site where the links don’t work or the information is out-of-date is not exactly going to scream ‘let’s do business!’ at passing visitors. Log-out of your web software every now and then and check that it’s all working smoothly. Equally, get friends and family to check how your site is looking and critique it (for fun. Obviously).
10. Be professional at all times
Tips from the top…
Fiona Pain, founder of Peachy PR
- Have a plan but don’t be afraid to change it. The most important thing is to trust your instincts, even if people doubt you.
- As important as it is to stay consistent and on top of everything day to day, you need to research into making use of new technology and opportunities.
- Be always thinking of innovative ways in which you can promote yourself and your business.
- If you’re running a ‘creative business’ there is no reason for you not to be ‘creative’ about promoting it!
- You can start a company pretty quickly, and whilst having some experience in building a product is very important, it can also be learned. There is a lot of good literature available out there and plenty of success stories to learn from.
- Being your own boss makes you work very hard, but as long as you are prepared to take decisions and learn from them there is no reason why you can’t become one.
- It is important to have clear short-term goals and the willingness and flexibility to change course in order make the most of opportunities when they present themselves.
Ellie Hernaman, founder of Truffle PR
- Ask for as much advice as possible from as many people as possible even if their industry or experience doesn’t seem directly relevant to what you’re doing; two heads are better than one and a different perspective is always of some value.
What would you recommend?