No one said that being a business owner would be easy. Probably because anyone who has started a business knows that it comes with lots of challenges along the way. Much of learning to run a business is trial and error, but there are some lessons that you don’t have to learn the hard way. Here are ten of them:
It’s All Sales, All the Time
When you own your own business, no matter what it is, there is no turning off selling. The good thing about it is that selling your own products or services is much more enjoyable than trying to meet sales quotas at someone else’s company. Just remember, you’re always on, so be prepared when opportunity knocks.
You Need to Plan
Many business owners jump right into selling, and they don’t really have a plan. Not only can this make things seem out of control and overwhelming, but it can create issues quickly. You have to have a plan for what you are going to do and you have to stick to it, tweaking it only when necessary.
Have a Process for Everything
In addition to having a good plan, you must have processes for everything. Lots of new business owners tend to do things a little bit willy-nilly in the beginning. Establishing clear processes for things like obtaining business agreements, invoicing, inventory management, etc., will make things run much smoother – even when you first start out.
You Have to Ask for the Sale
There’s no doubt that it’s easier to ask for the sale when it’s your own product you’re selling, but it can still be uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s just one of those things you have to keep doing until it starts to feel easy and natural. Remember what the very wise Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Sell Your Passion
When you are passionate about something, it’s much easier to sell. Think about a time that you explained all the merits of your favorite football team to someone. You likely were able to sing the team’s praises for quite a while. That’s selling a passion. Do that in your business and you have a better chance of being successful.
Never Undersell Yourself or Your Product
When you are just starting out, it’s tempting to sell your product or service at whatever price customers are willing to pay. You’re new, not yet an expert in your field, and some income is better than none, right? Well, not always. Underselling only works for a while, then you’re simply going to go under.
Finding the Right Customers is Essential
When you have a product or service to sell, you have to appeal to the type of customer you want. If you compromise your worth to obtain customers, they are very likely to move on to another business when they perceive a better deal. It’s better to find fewer quality customers who are willing to pay what you are worth than more fair-weather customers who you may never see again.
Nurture Repeat Customers
When you have established some quality customers, nurture those relationships. Make sure that they hear from you and that you express your gratitude for their loyalty. There are many ways this can be done – discounts, specials, referral incentives – you just have to figure out what appeals to your customers and works for your business.
Know Your Limits
Contrary to what you might think, you probably can’t do it all alone when it comes to your business. Know when you need help and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Whether that means hiring part-time help, enlisting the help of experts (like a good accountant), or investing in software that makes running your business easier, seek quality help and don’t feel bad about it.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Ride
Whatever you do, don’t forget to have a good time doing it. People who start their own business usually do so for two reasons: to remove themselves from the daily grind of working for someone else, and because they are passionate about their product or service. Don’t lose sight of those things as you strive to grow your business.