I went into business for myself over 10 years ago. At some time or other I’ve taken on the role of bookkeeper, salesperson, marketer, production manager, HR manager and many others. Necessity and experience have improved my skills in many areas. Some challenges have never gone away, but there are ways to address them.
This is at the top of many people’s list. Staying on top of money coming in and money going out ensures that there is always enough cash to go around. If you don’t understand cash flow, seek a professional that can work to set up forecasted expenses and revenues for you. Also, getting a line of credit from your local bank is very helpful; it’s gotten me out of several cash flow jams quickly and easily.
You can’t do everything yourself and you certainly can’t grow without adding staff. Finding and retaining the right team members takes time. Do thorough background checks and understand local labor laws. It’s worth the work up front to find the person that will be an asset to your company.
Everybody needs a constant flow of new customers to sustain revenue flow. If you own your own business, your job is sales and marketing whether you know it or not. Try different ways to bring in new business, such as networking, forging relationships with referral sources, and direct sales, and see what works best. Devote a certain amount of time every week to keep your pipeline full. Be sure not to rely on 1 or 2 clients that make up more than 50% of your business. This work could dry up at any time. You want a diversified client base to pick up the slack when you lose any single client.
Getting the word out about your business is crucial to its success. While you are the expert on what you do and its value to your customers, you may not have the time or ability to know the best way to communicate your story. Set out a plan that identifies who you are going to promote your business to, what the message will be, and how it will be communicated. Use tools that help automate the process.
There are only so many hours in the day and days in the week. Working long hours for years will make you feel like you are a slave to your business. You want to get to a place where you are not working 7 days a week and you can take vacations. Do the things that only you can do and delegate the rest to internal staff or to an outside entity. Stay focused on working on your business and not in your business.
When you own your own business, there’s no avoiding challenges. The important thing is to recognize them and address them.