Running a successful business isn't for the faint-hearted.
Yes, you've got a product that's going to take the market by storm. Sure, you've got a watertight strategy that covers all eventualities. There's no doubt, you've got this in the bag.
But, what I hate to tell you is that no matter how prepared you are, running a business is hard.
It's not just hard work physically, it can also be a hard job both mentally and emotionally.
The unplanned challenges and problems faced on a regular basis can make even the most confident of entrepreneurs second-guess their abilities.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Regardless of your industry, niche, product, or service, there are some basic principles you can apply to your daily business life which will help any business owner get to the top, and stay there.
Here are eight easy tips which you can implement today which will make a huge difference to how well you run your business.
1. Communication is key.
As a business owner, you can feel like an island.
Sometimes it feels like nobody else understands what it's like to run your business and have your problems.
But they do.
OK, specifically, other people might not be able to relate to your industry, but they can certainly relate to the highs and lows of business ownership.
It's important that you create a strong network around you so you can not only share your concerns but also celebrate your victories. Having someone on the end of the phone who you can rant to whenever you feel the need, is crucial. This support will help you process the broad range of emotions that come with running a business which will contribute to your success.
On the flip side, you also need to make sure that you're available and can lend your ears to those who need to talk. Identifying with others and their situations will help you make sound decisions as far as your own business is concerned and it'll make you more sympathetic to what other people are going through. Less, you know, 'islandy'.
2. You must have control over cash flow.
"Make a budget and stick to it" is easier advice to give than it is to take. It can be tempting when business is going well to splash out and treat yourself, but it's essential that you're sensible with your cash flow.
If you have outgoings, which all business owners do, you'll need to have adequate reserves to pay for them if something happens to your current income levels. Nothing is guaranteed when you own a business so not only do you need to make sure you can cover existing costs, you'll also need a rainy-day fund for those unexpected costs which are bound to hit you when you're least prepared.
3. Get an accountant.
Unless you have professional training in accounting, you must hire a professional to deal with your company accounts. Even if you're intelligent enough to work your way around your end of financial year paperwork, unless you're in expert in that area, it's impossible for you to learn enough to guarantee that it's completely correct.
You risk severe penalties for making mistakes on your company accounts, so always consult with a professional.
4. Time management is key.
Whatever the scale of your business, as the owner you're going to regularly be pulled from pillar to post. It's essential that you know how to manage your time to make sure you meet all the expectations of both your customers and your suppliers.
If time-management isn't your strong point, there are many apps you can download to help you get organised. Or, resort to the old-fashioned paper and pen and make a to-do list and prioritise it.
5. Be honest.
The importance of honest communication with all stakeholders can't be overlooked.
This applies to your staff, suppliers, creditors, investors, and your customer. Communicating what you're doing, and why, will help build relationships and avoid confusion and misunderstandings in the long term.
Of course, you don't need to delve into the inner workings of your business with people who don't need to know that level of detail but do keep key personnel involved with your decision-making process where required.
6. Don't ever reduce your initial quote.
If you're selling a service as opposed to a product, it can be hard to quote for new work. One of the best tips I can give you is to always stay firm to your quote. If a potential client thinks that you're too expensive, negotiate by adding more value. Alternatively, reduce services if they want you to reduce the amount they pay.
If you reduce your initial quote you're setting the relationship up to fail from the outset. Your client will question why you didn't give them that price in the first place, and you'll feel resentful for getting less than you're worth. It always leads to a lack of trust on both sides and the working relationship will become toxic. It's just not worth the energy.
Yes, be flexible, but never go back on what you've initially quoted.
7. Self-care is a must.
Many entrepreneurs are happy to tell you the daily rituals that have led to their success.
Meditation, self-help podcasts over breakfast, and daily ocean swims are all contributing factors in business-owners taking the world by storm.
Whatever your daily habits, it's important that as a business owner, you place high importance on self-care. Self-care will help you combat the effects of the undoubted stress that you'll face when running a business and keep your mind clear to make important decisions.
Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, exercise, and open communication is the bare minimum level of self-care but you can add yoga, meditation, and any other activities that are good for your wellbeing into your daily rituals.
8. Expect the unexpected.
You've made a plan, you're executing your strategy, you're living the dream.
Until that is, someone or something moves the goal posts and you're faced with the unexpected.
You need to get used to the fact that you won't be able to plan for everything in advance and things will come your way which you'll have to deal with there and then.
As a business owner, you're likely to be very organised and can find this element hard to deal with, but it's an essential fact and something you won't be able to avoid.
Running a business is a rewarding venture, the benefits of which far outweigh the pitfalls. By putting these simple strategies in place, there's no reason you won't succeed to take your business to the next level, whatever the future holds!