Starting a business is hard and there is no definitive one size fits all how to guide. I mean, you can read Starting a Business for Dummies* over and over but not all of it will make sense for what you want to achieve.
Isn’t that all part of the fun though? What makes the journey so much more rewarding? Of course, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go into it with your eyes wide open and a fantastically planned out strategy.
When I started my first business, that is exactly what I didn’t do. I had business ideas but I pretty much have no idea how I was going to implement them, let alone make a success of my business.
4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Business
So if I had a time machine and could go back and do it all again, what are the 4 things I wish I knew before starting a business.
- Learn some bookkeeping basics
When setting up a business, you need to register for tax. This means that at some point, you will need to submit a tax return and pay any tax owed. I had never been self-employed before so it all seemed very alien to me. With a little help from the internet, I followed online guidance and registered with absolutely no problems but when it came to submitting my tax return I was clueless.
I had absolutely no idea what expenses I could claim for and it wasn’t until I got a part-time job at an accountancy company that I realised I was paying way to much in tax. Eventually, I ended up doing a bookkeeping course to help, I would highly recommend it because it not only helps you learn what you can and can’t claim for but it also gives you a better idea of how to organise everything and keep records.
- Use social media to your advantage
Who doesn’t love social media? I know I do, but back when I was running my own business I didn’t really think about the differences between an online personal presence and online business presence. Of course, I did the usual things like setting up a Facebook business page, along with a twitter account but I wasn’t consistent with my posts and didn’t plan anything. I posted when I had things to post, didn’t curate content to share and eventually, I just stopped posting completely because I wasn’t getting any results.
If I could go back and do it again I would make sure I completely separate my business from my personal life and set specific goals, look at the types of content that are working for my competitors and plan, plan, plan!
- You need to have clear branding and values in place before launching
I certainly did not have any of this in place when I started and it made a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong, I designed a logo and basically thought that that would be enough… it wasn’t.
Businesses need to have clear branding so that it is instantly recognisable. Your branding gives everyone that comes across it the very first impression and initial judgements can be made on various psychological factors like colours, and text.
Then comes your mission statement and values. These not only let your potential customers know exactly what you and your business stands for, but it also keeps you on track too. Without these, your brand is kind of just wandering around in the dark.
I definitely make sure I have these in place before launching any businesses now because it makes things so much easier.
- Set SMART goals and hold yourself accountable
I know, I know! I’m always banging on about these but it’s because they are so important. You could have a hundred great business ideas but if you don’t have a realistic plan that you can measure your progress against none of it will matter. When setting goals, I tend to work in Quarters. I set one big goal for every 3 month period and then a couple of smaller goals to work alongside it.
For example, my big goal for this quarter is to get The Boss Babe Empire membership site up and running. Included in this goal is creating content, recording videos, putting a course together and who can forget about the free opt-in?
Smaller goals include increasing brand awareness, growing my email list and creating content for the podcast and YouTube channel.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
Haley is an online entrepreneur specialising in branding and digital media marketing. She has spent the past 7 years working with local businesses and organisations and helping them increase awareness of their brand and ultimately, increase sales. Haley set up The Boss Babe Empire to encourage others to follow their dreams. With the help of a supportive, knowledgable community, her aim is to offer inspiration, motivation, guidance and support to other female entrepreneurs.