The thought of being your own boss sounds appealing doesn't it? Giving yourself time off whenever you want, making your own rules, doing everything 'your way'...
And for the most part, it is fun. It's highly rewarding when things go right and it's so exciting watching your ideas and thoughts take on a life of their own.
After starting and running my business NOOD for the past 3 years, there are certainly some things that I did right and many things which I could have done better, or earlier, or differently. Alas, hindsight is a beautiful thing isn't it?
I recently featured on Alison Morgan's 'Mindful Biz Podcast' and we talked all things business - the good times, the hard times and what's in store for the future.
To listen to the full podcast click here.
After chatting with Alison, I started to think more and more about what I would have done differently, had I had the chance to start all over again, knowing what I know now.
I love helping others, whether it be through nutritional know how, or through any advice I can give on those starting an entrepreneurial journey of their own. So here are my top 5 must do's when starting up.
Remember that it's all a learning experience and no-one expects you to know everything. Many of the tips below are things I learnt the hard way. So the more I can share with you my friend, the better.
1. Know your purpose - set clear goals
Why are you starting your own business? What is your purpose? What is your product or service? Have you done your research?
Making sure you can identify your purpose clearly is so important - can you tell someone in 2 sentences or less exactly what you do and why you do it? If not, maybe you need to re-visit the drawing board.
Personally, I think it's important to have a purpose that means something to you other than "I want to be rich". Authenticity in business is amazing and people really respond to it. I am so humbled to have some people who have followed the journey with NOOD, and supported me every step of the way because they truly believe in what I do.
2. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses early
Oh this is a good one. Who thinks that they are the master of everything? I certainly did. I thought I could manage it all on my own and didn't seek the help of others when I truly needed it.
Asking for help was such a burden for me - I felt like I was annoying people if I asked them to help me, or that by asking for help, it meant I didn't know what I was doing and therefore I was stupid. Not knowing something doesn't make you stupid... but not asking for help when you should, does.
Recognising your strengths and weaknesses early is so crucial as you can sit back and divide tasks up between yourself and other experts in their field. It might be that you are a gun at marketing, but can't write up a budget to save your life - so engage with an accountant to help you. Or perhaps you know how to build online systems but suck at marketing your product - so engage with a marketing and PR company to guide you.
3. Don't think that everyone has your best interest at heart
This might sound like a harsh comment, but the reality is that most people are in it for themselves. No one will EVER love your business the way you love it, and you can't expect them to - they don't have a personal or financial commitment that ties them to the business like you do, so don't think that they will care about it in the same way.
One of the biggest lessons I have learnt (and continue to learn), is that a lot of disappointment of others arises because of my personal expectations of them. Assuming that people will react the way you would, or do something the way you would, is not always the case and you will set yourself up for setbacks and discontentment time and time again if you continue to think that way. Unfortunately the world does not operate through rose coloured glasses...
So how to overcome this? Hire well, and hire good, honest people. Understand what drives them and work with that in mind. Set clear weekly tasks for each person and hold them accountable to those tasks. Reward them if/when they have completed the task as you had asked, and provide constructive criticism if it hasn't gone the right way. Even though I also hold a Bachelor Degree in HR Management, managing staff is one of the most time consuming, and difficult aspects of running a business. As you grow, you need to ensure you have set Job Descriptions, KPI's and performance review meetings set in place to keep everyone on track.
And remember, you can't please everyone all the time. I'm not very good at being a bitch or at being selfish when I need to in business. Which has got me in difficult situations because I've been scared to have confrontational discussions with staff members about their performance. Remember, that you need to protect your business and that by letting things slip by the wayside, you loose time, money and productivity. Keep that going for long enough, and you get yourself into a position where you could loose your business.
4. Have a strong team around you
If you hire well, some of your staff will be your rock - you will find amazing people who will support you properly and help your business dramatically. Keep these people close.
Outside of your business however, you need to make sure you have a network who can support you through the shit times. Because trust me, there are loads of times where I have bawled my eyes out thinking I can't keep going.
It's times like this where you need a strong foundation around you - whether that be your family, your partner, your best friend or your business advisor/mentor. If you feel totally alone in this, you will go crazy. Having a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to, and someone to celebrate wins with you is so crucial throughout this journey.
Don't forget to be grateful for these people - and say thank you often.
5. Don't give up hope
Yes running a business is hard. Maybe for me it's been harder than for others, but I know that all small business owners have their off days, or their days when you sit down and wonder why on earth you decided to work for yourself and not someone else.
It's not all bad though. We obviously do this for a reason! When things go right, and when life flows and you receive positive feedback from your customers, it's the most amazing feeling in the world. Having a purposeful career and building something to be truly proud of is such an achievement and it's important to not get bogged down in the hard stuff.
I find that I always tend to focus on the difficult things or the things which I feel are setting me back. Every now and then, someone will say to me "but Nikki, look at everything you've done up until this point - isn't that cool?". And it is cool. It's an incredible journey when you reflect on it and above all else, it's an incredible learning experience - not only on how to run a business, but you learn SO much about yourself as a human being.
Remember that change is inevitable - it will happen every day, every week, every year. Changing to adapt to growth or new trends, needs to happen in order for a business to survive. Just when you think you've put in the hard yards, something else will change that needs MORE work and MORE time. And it's all a part of the process. So don't give up hope - try and go with the flow, and stay excited along the way!
Loads of love xx
Do you run a business? I'd love to hear your comments or advice for others below!
If you want to hear more about my journey as a small business owner, I will be talking to the head of Small Business at BankWest on 16th February 2017.
To book in for the live webinar, please click here.