Many of you may wonder what kind of advise I could give in starting your own business and finding your business footing as I am still finding mine. This article is for those who are just starting out in business or looking for ideas to start your own business – I’m going through what you are going through too. There are many elements books don’t tell you about what it’s really like to start a business. This is because each experience is unique. For me I found it’s a patience game, a game of chance, judgements and lots of errors and that’s the best part. The worst for me has been the roller-coaster of emotions. How do you put that on your business plan? Your Idea When starting your own business, we all know the importance of a business plan; if you find writing easy then you won’t find writing one hard. It’s the idea of having to put your thoughts on paper in the desired format. If you have a complex business idea like I do, then writing a business plan can be time consuming and frustrating to say the least. I’ve once had to write my business plan six times for one organisation and they still didn’t get the concept. Upon doing a presentation they kind of got the idea. So, now I have a business plan in the form of a presentation. You must remember that no one will fully understand your idea (unless you can take them on a tour around your brain even then there’s no guarantee), but you must communicate it the best way you can, especially if you are looking for financial support. It is crucial to know and understand your idea and your business plan. Taking criticisms, listening to others, doing your research and analysing all this and more is important. Then, what happens when you can’t recognise your idea after adjusting it to suit all the feedback you got? Don’t be a mule and don’t be a push over about your idea. Outweigh the advantages and disadvantage of your feedback, as it’s you that has to implement and execute the business plan. Financial Help Everywhere you turn you’ll hear “in this economy… getting a loan is hard…” yes it is harder than before. My advice to you as a start up is not to depend on a loan. Too much focus on getting the money may take you away from your idea; it shouldn’t be your be all and end all. When I started I didn’t have much capital and I’m still looking for funding, but I focus on what I can do with the small budget I have. Do what you can within your budget even if it’s a small amount (you can get business cards with that). A lot of entrepreneurs started with almost nothing. I opened a salon with a bit of capital in the account. And no, I don’t recommend you start your own business like that unless you’re determined and focused because if you’re not, you’ll get in a worse off financial position. I found getting financial support very difficult and time consuming, but getting into debts is very easy and doesn’t take time at all. Getting Started “Build it, and they will come” a misquoted popular phrase. True or False? This phrase was at the back of my mind 18 months ago when I got an opportunity to open a salon. Will it work? What if no one came in? ‘What if’ a hundred different things. The phrase is build it not buy it, at university one of the syllabus subjects was Project Management and one thing that stuck in my mind was the triangle of every project: time, cost and quality. While painting and decorating the salon my fears clashed with my planning. I would like to tell you that I conquered my fears which would be a lie, but I did see my vision come alive so to speak. So yes, you need to ‘build it for them to come,’ do not forget your goals, your business plan. When starting your own business, if your business idea only requires you, then good luck you for you’re on your own and no shared work load so you must stay on top of it. If you don’t work at it, no one else will. If you need to hire staff; my best wishes. We all know the value of a good staff member when you’re starting out. It is said that one happy customer with tell up to three people on average, however, a dissatisfied customer will tell an average of ten people. Employee indifference is one of the biggest reasons customers will vote with their feet and go elsewhere. You are more passionate about your business than anyone you will employ so make sure you get the right team member and always be present when starting your own business. My salon is within a small community and I hired someone who was well known in the community, but unfortunately, not for the right reasons and as a result I found out the hard way and my business suffered for that error in judgement. ‘Hire slow and fire fast’ is a concept that is not easy to implement but a very necessary one especially, when you start your own business. When you have a team around you, hiring the right people is still crucial, but more flexible. In finding your business footing, the path you choose must be suitable for you, for you alone will be walking that path through its journey. Know your plan and don’t let anyone make you think it will not work because they do not understand your idea. Even if people like your idea, there are no guarantees on its success or failure till you have implemented it. When you start your own business, fear and uncertainty can hold you back in many ways; my fear was what if no one came to the salon when it opens and my fear came true – only two people came to the open day. I analysed what I did wrong, where it went wrong and what I can do about it and not forgetting where it went right – yes, I was happy for at least I got two more than none at all and from those two, I got many recommendations. Referrals and recommendations received when starting your own business can be a very powerful element of your business growth. I have gone to banks, government grants, charity organisations for help with funding business start ups and with no success. I’ve been told my idea will not work with options that I should only do this, or go back to employment. I have taken all the criticisms on board by splitting up my business plan. I focus on the salon and work part-time elsewhere, but not forgetting or changing my idea completely to suit others but do what’s best for the business and myself. You will find that when you are starting your own business, there are a number of points in your plan that work very well on paper and in your head, but alas reality is not always so accommodating. Are you balancing your time, cost and quality of your service or products? Never leave your business to be run by an indifferent person, start up or not. Your customers come first and they’re a crucial kick start your own business absolutely requires! What has been your biggest hurdle when starting your own business? You know that feeling of saying… “you know what? I’ll just pack it in and get a nice secure job where I don’t have to worry about money coming in or be responsible for everything?” – Be bigger than that! How have you managed to stay on track? Focused? Let me know. TwitterLinkedInFacebookGooglePocket Lirone Glikman Hi Karen- Thank you! I think you highlighted the untold as there are so many things books doesn’t teach you. Not every business succeeds and it’s simply because every experience is unique as you wisely stated. Every business and person are different and while there is a path to success, many of the times you have to walk a long way to find the right path for you. I like the fact you shared your own experience, it is very encouraging and motivating to see that we are not alone and everyone struggles in his own way. Good luck and welcome to Business Banter Karen! Cheers, Lirone http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori Thank you so much Lirone, yes Business Banter is great! Like you stated many of the times you have to walk a long way to find the right path for you, and the good news is that you don’t always have to walk the whole path alone which is why I like Business Banter. x Samuel Hang in there, the banks, institutes and all of the mentioned above are no go people for startups. It shouldn’t be that way but they make it so much more difficult for start ups instead of helping and making it easier. The good thing is you sound very strong and looks like you’re persisting and moving forward! Well done Karen on this post and keep on moving forward. http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori Thank you Samuel, I guess if all business start ups got the funding and help from the beginning everyone will be having a go at it. Starting to think its like an initiation you have go through before joining the entrepreneur club. Fred Nairan I feel your circumstance, but business is about resilience and persistence and therefore, go with your impulse and make the best pathway for you. Great post and thank you for sharing some great tips! http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori You’re welcome Fred, yes resilience and persistence will pave the pathway for any goals. Gina This is great Karen. I’m a pre startup and still toying with my ideas, but I’m so glad I have read your post and felt your positive hardship if you don’t mind me saying that. It now gears me to being in a better position and finding a solution before things go wrong. Or at least I will try. How are you coping with this? What have you done to over come the negative barriers? http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori Thank you Gina for your comment. Finding a solution before things go wrong would be ideal but in many cases we can not predict when things will go wrong. What I do try to do is act rather than react, I look at every negative as an opportunity. Try this and let me know how it goes. Neil Giller Great post, being in a business for over 25 years some of your comment still hit home. Thanks for taking the time to educate:-) http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori Many thanks Neil, question for you; having been in business for a while now, would you say it gets any easier or goes it become a whole new ball game? Neil Giller My pleasure Karen!! I love what I do and have always had a passion for helping my clients achieve their goals. So in answer to your question I personally feel the longer a business goes on, and the more clients you gain the harder it becomes as your reputation is on the line every time you pick up the phone or deal with a clinets job; only with many more customers in the bank than when you first started up. As you’ve stated if a customer has a great experience they’ll tell 3 people, compared to if the have a bad experience as they’ll tell 10 or more. To this end having more clients to keep happy is more of a juggling act than anything else. This stated by being in business for 25 years now (I’ve had 20 different hair style in that time) processes set in stone and honesty become the two most important things in my book as I for one believe its all about doing your job well and making you clients feel like they’re the only one. If you achieve this then in my opinion you’ve achieved what being an GREAT business is all about. Its not what you think of you about your company that’s important, its what your clients think and say, that’s why I constantly ask for feedback from them, whether it be good or bad you have something to learn and build your business on. http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori Wow! Thank you Neil, I have also found that honesty with clients has helped me form great relationships with my clients. When you say processes set in stone are you referring to a system? I have read somewhere that the key to a successful business is setting a system that works with or without you. If that’s the case when would you say your process is now set in stone? As I started out I was so sure of how the process was going to be, however, I find that now as I’m still finding my business footing it’s constantly changing and I know it shouldn’t be that way. You’ve hit the nail on the head for me; its not about what I think of the business that matters but how clients perceive the business. Its something I had completely forgotten about many thanks for this timely reminder. But on a serious note Neil, you’ve only had 20 hairstyles in 25 years?!:) http://www.businessbanter.com/ Shameer Shah Awesome post Karen. Let me be the first to congratulate you on this post which I can see you have written passionately. Tells a great story of your life experience and lends itself well to start ups and newbies looking for inspiration! Well done. Welcome to BusinessBanter.com http://www.afrohairdressing.co.uk/ Karen Mupondori Many thanks for your wonderful comment.