16 Top Tips To Starting Your Own Business
The following is a guest post from Jamie at letsgetjobless.com. He shares tips on how to grow your own lifestyle business and set yourself up with a blog or website, and other ways to make money online.
Many of us talk about starting up our own businesses. Whether you’re like me and dream of travel and being location independent and being able to work from anywhere with a Wifi connection, or whether your passions are a little closer to home – wanting more time for the family or extra income, many of us have dreams of being our own bosses and starting our own business. However, with every great idea also comes many difficulties. Sometimes it’s self-doubt and often a little bit of fear of the unknown… Stepping outside of our own comfort zone is hard!
But today, I’ve compiled a full list of the top tips I’ve used or helped others to use in taking the first steps to starting your own business. I hope they help give you the inspiration and bravery to step out into the world and conquer it on your own terms!
1. Advantages You Have As A Latecomer
The first thought that came through my mind when I dreamt of setting up my own Lifestyle Business was, well… aren’t I a little late? The inspiration for building my own business came from viewing others who had done something similar and I wanted a piece of the pie. But how on earth was I going to succeed when I was so late to the party? There are a lot of advantages you have as a latecomer and there is a ton of proof out there of people who have setup businesses in saturated markets, yet still have been successful.
As a latecomer, you have the advantage of seeing clearly what everyone else is doing for your business niche, and you can bring something completely new and different to that audience.
2. Be Different & Unique
I’m sure you’ve all heard many blog posts or YouTube videos about being unique and having a clear Unique Selling Point for your business, but what if your fresh out of ideas? If you don’t already have a great USP idea for your new business, you can apply the principles of being a latecomer! Being unique gives you and your business something that nobody else will have and should help your business stand out from the crowd.
A great example of this was when my friend’s brother got laid off from his job and had always had a strong desire to be an ice-cream van driver (tales of high profit margins and unlimited chocolate sauce had always had his attention), yet in his local area there were already 4-5 ice-cream businesses, who seemingly had control of the local market. So he analysed what they had to offer and decided to offer something different. He decided instead of driving a van he would pack a freezer onto the back of a traditional tricycle, dressed up in an old fashioned barbershop quartet outfit and sell old fashioned ice-creams from the street. This was a more expensive and more inconvenient for himself (he did have killer leg muscles after all that peddling though), but he stood out and to this day has made a fantastic business for himself.
3. Give To Help Others ￼
This is something that I and a few of my other close blogging friends all try and achieve with our businesses. We believe that your primary goal shouldn’t be about making money. By providing value to your particular business niche you will be growing a relationship with your customers. That means that they will be a part of your brand; especially for startups, I believe this to be a crucial factor to success. Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience.
If you set your goal to grow a relationship and become friends first, later on they can then decide whether they would like to invest in what you have to offer as a business or what you recommend. This is especially true for bloggers and online businesses.
4. Embed Yourself Within The Community
Helping others leads neatly into this next top tip! When I was starting my own business, I reached out online through twitter with a number of areas that I was having difficulty with, and asked for advice. Interestingly the people who were willing to involve themselves and help me more often than not grew into somebody I had a friendship or relationship with. A number of these online friends I made have their own businesses and when I’ve needed anything that relates to what their business offers, I’ve always selected them over a random business who I haven’t had any experience with, and even if i haven’t needed their services I’ve often referred other friends to their businesses.
This taught me very early on that the power of relationships is HUGE when it comes to online business. By embedding yourself into the community of your business, you may be seen as an authority and grow strong relationships, potentially leading to future customers or recommendations.
5. Stay The Course
As a person, I have a very limited attention span. Whether its a book I’m reading, a new game I’m playing or a new hobby I’ve taken up, I’m usually engrossed at first but once I see something better that catches my eye I’m moving onto the next thing. Some of the best advice I ever received actually came from my Dad (he must have read it online, as I see it everywhere nowadays!) Nothing works if you keep changing your mind. He told me if I ever wanted to complete a task, a goal or anything that I wanted to get done that I needed to:
– Stop doubting myself
– Stop changing my mind
– Stop doubting my own decisions
– Pick something, run with it, fully believe in it and make something of it.
6. Get Creative and Don’t be Afraid To Make Mistakes
One of my favourite things about starting your own business is there is no template, no right and wrong way to do something (even giving away things for free has potentially huge benefits!) so you have the freedom to get as creative as you like.
After speaking to lots of different small business owners in one of my previous jobs, there was one solid truth that seemed to always crop up when I asked any of them factors to their success.
Making mistakes will help you learn what works, what doesn’t work and allow you to improve and refine your business. ￼People always seem to have this huge fear of making mistakes but as Thomas Edison said – ‘I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways in which the lightbulb doesn’t work.’
7. Use Your ‘Competition’ To Your Advantage
This top tip may be more relevant to the online space and bloggers in particular, than other small businesses, but too often we see people who are within our niche or running businesses that are similar to ours as competition. This is a shame because some of the most successful online businesses and bloggers use a more collaborative approach. Mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses in your niche can lead to improved traffic or more customers for both of your businesses. I’ve had lots of relationships with other bloggers.
This post and my friendship with Fran is a great example of mutually beneficial arrangements (isn’t she just great?) and there are 100’s of ways in which you can create a harmonious relationship with other businesses in your niche, with guest blogging being just one of the avenues you can take.
8. Don’t Do Too Much Research
Just like procrastinating takes away too much of your free time, doing heavy research can sometimes lead to the permanent delay of launching your business. Don’t get me wrong, I love research. I personally believe that doing a good amount of research can help to give you a great amount of good practices to operate in any business; however, it’s easy to get trapped in the process of consuming information and never actually getting anything started.
There is no time like the present. Set yourself a timeline to start your business and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn. Avoid getting stuck in the loop of only consuming information and not ever starting your own business. The beauty of launching your business through the medium of a blog is that you can throw yourself in at the deep end and it shouldn’t negatively impact your business, but in most cases gives you the drive to keep growing your business.
9. Stay Organised
How many hours of my ‘business time’ have I spent procrastinating on different websites, YouTube videos or other blog posts? The answer is, a lot! Time management and organisation skills is something I wasn’t naturally given at birth (unlike my sister… why do siblings always get the talents you want?).
However, luckily for me, with a bit of self-discipline and taking the time to form a habit (it takes 28 days to form a habit if you guys didn’t know already!) you can help yourself stay organised within your business, hopefully allowing you to get more done in the same time, or freeing up time so that you can focus on more important tasks (like wine on a Wednesday night, or the family).
Set yourself specific, measurable goals and always give yourself a timeline to help organise yourself. Think ’S.M.A.R.T Goals’. There are some great tools out there to help keep you organised, but my top tip would be to set yourself a list of goals to achieve using the smart goal format and focus on one task at a time until completion or until you get to a point you are happy with before focusing on any other tasks.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Have a Voice
Having a voice for your business is a wonderful thing. I remember when my dad launched his new restaurant around 5 years ago and when he opened his Twitter account for the restaurant he was absolutely terrified of tweeting the wrong thing. So much so that he actually asked me to tweet for him for the first few weeks. Having a voice for your business gives you personality, and people love personality because people love people. Personality also drives engagement. When you start your business it’s important, in my opinion, to not be a generic sounding company.
You do not need to sound corporate for people to take you seriously as a business – after all, who likes a Robot behind a keyboard speaking to them; we all love that personal touch, right? People are much more likely to engage with you (especially over mediums like Twitter) if your business has a voice.
Bear in mind that if you are a shy person, the voice of the business doesn’t necessarily have to emulate your own. There are many successful writers and bloggers online who write with an alias for different sites and each write in a different unique voice. Just try to be consistent with your business’ voice and remember, you have to use your voice for anybody to hear it!
11. Use Social Media, But Don’t Get Distracted By It
This will depend on your business model and your strategy but certainly for online business, I know Fran and I and lots of other bloggers have benefited from using social media sites to engage with our readers. Not only does social media make your business or website more engaging and give your readers better content (especially when embedded into your blog) but these social sites are also search engines in their own right (YouTube is now the 2nd largest search engine next to Google!).
So not only does it enhance your business but it also acts as a traffic generator – just be careful of the dangers of getting distracted. My top tip for avoiding social media distraction is before loading up any of them, have a clear goal for the reason I’m opening it. If I can’t give myself a reason that’ll benefit my business, I focus on other tasks first and only use it in my leisure time.
12. Always Have An Online Presence
Even if your business isn’t related to blogging, WordPress is still a fantastic platform to use when setting yourself up online. My friend runs a florist business, and for well over 2 years he was operating using just a 4 page WordPress website.
The site just explained what his business was, where they were located and how to contact them.
The beauty of WordPress is after I had spoken to him about the potentials of growing his business online he has now set up a blog alongside his website to give his business more depth (people can now read about the day to day goings on of a florist; apparently his customers love it!). This has also allowed him to grow his business, as with writing regular blog content he is getting more enquiries now through his website than ever before.
Having an online presence gives your business the potential for online growth, but also can give your business a voice and a personality to it that competitors may not offer. ￼
13. Track and Grow An Email List From The Start
Email lists are powerful. Almost every successful blogger or business owner will tell you, being able to instantly contact and access a database of your potential customers who have willingly subscribed to hear from you will give you real potential for anytime you release a new product of service for your business.
Having a way to contact your readers and customers directly can complement your social media presence and give you a great way to launch new products or services for your business.
There are lots of different strategies for growing an email list, and even more strategies on how to effectively engage your audience when you do have their email! There is a great free resource available from Pat Flynn detailing in-depth some different techniques for engaging your customers and readers via your email list, and he shares his strategies for email marketing and growing your email list – you can access this free guide here.
14. Sharing Is Caring; Free Content Is King!
Many potential new business owners are sometimes scared of putting their best material online for free for their readers or customers, especially when it comes to blogging.
However, even if you come up with some amazing content and you are planning on using it in an upcoming e-book or perhaps a digital product you are planning to release there is absolutely no harm in sharing this content on your site for free. The law of reciprocation states that when you help somebody and they receive a benefit, they are naturally inclined to give something back to you for helping them. So even if you give away content for free, people will still be willing to pay for it later on, providing the content is well put together.
The beauty of doing business in this way is by offering free content to your readers, which genuinely helps them, they will trust you as you are actually helping them. This helps build a strong relationship with this customer or reader and in the future when you do post your product they are much more likely to actually purchase it.
A great example of this was in the family run computer company I used to work for. Even though there was a PC World just down the road, which sold similar computer units for less money, they would still have regular customers who would shop with them…why was this?
They had developed a great relationship with their customer base, but also they were giving the customers something that the PC World down the road wasn’t. They were offering free lessons to people who needed help with setting up their first computers. What then happened was when people received this free service which benefited them, they then wanted to give back to the company!
15. Quality Over Quantity
When you looked at online business 10 years ago, you would often find that companies implemented the strategy of quantity over quality. They often did this when it came to driving traffic to their sites making lots of webpages with lots of keywords and Google would rank them highly for this. Nowadays, it’s a very different kettle of fish! Google rewards websites for offering content that is written for people, not for search engines.
Make sure when producing content, you focus on quality writing, or producing a quality product as not only will Google rank you higher for content that is useful, but quality content is infinitely more sharable, which can lead to great exposure for your business! ￼
16. Have FUN
You know when you are sitting at home after a long week and are cozied up waiting to watch that boxset you love, or you finish work on a Friday afternoon and you’re looking forward to maybe a round of golf or maybe bingo with the gals, hell it might even be a knitting class with all the locals from your church.
Having fun with intent in your business allows you to perform to the best of your ability, and genuinely loving your business will allow you to grow not just a healthy business but a much happier lifestyle for your personal life.
So that is my final, and probably my top tip to starting your own business…have fun, with intent. The more you enjoy working at your business, the easier it will be and the more time you will happily dedicate to the pursuit of your goals.
Does anyone want to start their own business? Let me know in the comments below! Here is a list of 100 side hustle business ideas to get you started.