As a self-employed person and/or a business owner, there are many daily, weekly, monthly and yearly challenges.
Here are a few answers to some Frequently Unanswered Questions which you may find helpful:
1. What are the three most important people to have in a business?
Ensure you have a great bank; a supportive mentor and a good lawyer that will help your business grow. Take a partnership attitude when dealing with each of them, share with them your key strategies and let them know when you achieve major milestones. Banks 'bank' on people; so make sure your bank knows your track record.
2. Why do I need a business plan?
Developing and maintaining a business plan will help you stay focused and allow you to track your business progress and objectives. Your business plan doesn't have to be the size of a book, a few A4 pages with specific goals and a clear strategic plan on how to get to where you want to go in the next 12 to 24 months will suffice. Ensure you include financial projections and always double the estimated time and costs. Your plan should not be set in concrete; review it regularly and adjust it as you grow and learn.
3. How can I be sure I will stay in business?
It is essential to learn to read financial statements and ensure your accountant understands your mission. If you want to stay in business you need to make a profit; if you don't know how to read a Profit & Loss (P&L) and a Balance Sheet, you won't know your current status and this could mean a negative financial future. Remember information is power and financial power is of the upmost importance in business.
4. What is the most common error women make when they are self-employed?
Most women don't charge what they are worth. You must never undersell yourself. Women tend to be nurturing and less competitive than men. It is important not to fight your instinct but don't give yourself away either. People value what they pay for, so ensure you charge what you are worth and pay yourself for the work you do.
5. How do I stay focused and inspired?
Surround yourself with like-minded women business owners and market your business appropriately. Learning from other people's successes and failures is invaluable. Women are great communicators and have a tendency to help other women; so don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Be inspired by the success of others whilst you learn and never stop marketing your business; women talk about what they love, so ensure you understand their power and use it adequately.
6. How can I find out if my business idea will be profitable?
Research your ideas before implementing anything. Follow your gut and have a clear understanding of your target market. When you research your market you will need to understand your competition; information is power. Once your research is complete, find your niche and be the best you can be. If you don't know what others are doing, you can't do it better. If the market is saturated, you will have a hard time entering the market.
7. What is the best way to hire staff?
When you hire staff, look for people with different skills sets. Before you employ anyone, ensure they can provide your business with what it needs. Employing people that know more than you is a must; throw your ego out, learn from them and let your business prosper.
8. Why do I need an exit strategy?
Having an exit strategy will assist you in developing a long and short-term marketing plan. It will also entice you to protect your intellectual property and your brand before you enter the market. If you don't know where you are going, you can't get there. Your exit strategy today, will help you get to the where you want to be tomorrow. Most investors will not look at a business unless there is an exit strategy in place. Some businesses have an exit strategy even before they start the business; this helps them grow the business to the ultimate point.
9. Why is a marketing strategy one of the most important things in any business?
The most amazing products will sit in a box forever if no one knows they exist; so your marketing plan is of the upmost importance. Ensure your marketing message is clear and never stop marketing. Use all mediums as often as possible and promote your brand at all time; perseverance is a must.
Nothing lasts forever and even babies grow up and leave home; so if you classify your business as your 'baby', remember, there will come a day when you need to say 'goodbye'. Ensure the foundations are ready for its growth and be ready to profit and move on when the day arrives. (Even Bill Gates walked away from his company!).
10. What must I never forget?
Have fun in order to keep the drive going and don't ever lose sight when the going gets tough. Businesses, like people, will have good days and bad days; always remember why you started your business to help you keep moving forward and laugh whenever possible, even at yourself if necessary.
Doing something you don't love, will not work in the long run when you run a business. The old expression: "If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life", is very true. If you dislike what you do, you will end up not progressing and your business will fail. Your passions will drive you to success and the profits will follow.