I started my ConfidenceCoach business very recently, as a Sole Trader.
The best advice I can give anyone starting out as a sole trader, or small business, is to find one or two good mentors, preferably in the industry you are in, who can support you and are willing to impart valuable advice on potential pitfalls and what the necessary things are to do first, as you can get overwhelmed with the amount there is to do. I have spoken to several people who say ‘what I wish I’d known is…’ It is also good to have an independent person outside of your business to use as a sounding board for ideas.
Learn quickly how to prioritise tasks – task/ time management for example:
- do your ‘to do’ list the night before – with up to 6 tasks on it (some may be personal tasks)
- If you could only do 1 or 2 which one? 3 or 4? 5 or 6 – you will then have your top 3. Importantly – then schedule these three tasks into your diary first, and then the others. Doing the list the night before sets the intention for the next day and you wake up with purpose, instead of possibly wasting time on what you may do first, or getting lost in answering emails. I have also found it useful to have a week by week chart of what I am doing in view, and also as a reminder of what networking or business events are coming up.
- Having good focus on a specific task, with no personal social media engagement is the way to maximise your time, and making sure you take breaks is essential. 90mins focused work then 20 minutes break – a walk, make some tea, read etc simply to refresh your mind
Another great tip is doing a ‘skills swap’ I have now done this 3 times recently – we each have given an hour of our time or equivalent, based on cost of an hour of our time . One lovely lady gave me valuable social media advice to raise my profile in a more focused way, and I gave her advice on confidence and public speaking. Another lady put all my contacts, from networking meetings onto a spreadsheet in exchange for advice on presenting. This worked really well and also it is an opportunity to really find out each others skills, in order to recommend clients to each other.
If you can join a business course or accountability group, it is brilliant way to get support and information. I am currently on Ash Lawrence’s Millionaire Mindset Course, and it has been invaluable – offering amazing business advice, great support from my peers in the group, and making sure I set commitments and then achieve them. There are other courses and great accountability groups all across Kent like EnACT, or you could start one of your own.
Get advice as soon as possible from HMRC on how to fill out your tax return, and see an accountant, they usually offer a free first session, to make sure you know what to look after in terms of your finance and what to include and what not to include.
The Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, give free business advice, and can help you develop a business plan, and help with looking at funding for your business and how to do the proposal.
Setting SMART goals and reviewing them every week or month to see if you are on track, what is working well or if you need to adjust the way you work, is vital to keep your focus on what you want to achieve. (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Trackable)
The networking groups I have attended, have been so very good. I have found support, real friendships, business contacts and business. There are many to find; ones you pay for and others are free.
Attend business fairs – great for networking and picking up some great free advice and business, or you could exhibit.
On a personal level – getting enough sleep and eating properly is key to being able to really focus on your business, keeping you sharp and avoiding illness. Have a routine that includes regular exercise, and breaks. Meditation is great for you overall well-being
Also making sure you do have ‘down time’ and leisure time with friends or family. If you are managing your tasks and time well then this is achievable.
Learn to delegate! There are some things you really can get someone else to do, even if you have to pay, it frees you up to do what you went into business for.
Learn to say NO…it is easy to take on too much at first. It is better to really do a job well, than affect your credibility as a business right at the start.
Credit yourself for what you do achieve. It can be hard to realise how much you have done, when you feel bogged down. Take time every night to just jot down what went well for that day, after 2 or three weeks you will have a lot of things that have gone well to refer to.
My last tip is… Don’t ever lose sight of WHY you wanted to start your business in the first place.