Tag Archives: run your own business

The key to business success is just doing it

Sunset on the beach
Free your mind and your body

If you want to run a successful business, or are thinking of quitting your job for a new life of independence, then start training for a marathon now. Or a Channel Swim, or a triathalon, or a 5k fun run or anything which pushes you physically and challenges you to aim for a long-term goal.

There is an intimate link between body and mind. When you step out of your physical comfort zone and start pushing through the pain barrier you realise that you can accomplish plenty of stuff you thought was impossible. Committing to a medium or long term fitness goal also gives you a massive sense of purpose and achievement which carries over into other aspects of your life.

In a teleclass I held last night about how to launch a new business in a recession, many of the questions I was asked in advance centred on issues of safety and security. People wanted to know how to find the courage, and the finances, to step out of their comfort zone and leave their job.

You only have to look at characters like Richard Branson, who regularly challenges himself with wildly ambitious projects, to see the correlation between those who are successful at business and those who never stay in their comfort zone for long.  You don’t have to attempt a round-the-world balloon race to reap the benefits, though.

Some of the world’s most successful traders, (people who have made millions from buying and selling shares on the stockmarket), advocate regular exercise as a mental and physical discipline,  an antidote to stress and a source of creativity.

 

Who knows, this discipline might also give you the courage and inspiration to change your life in other ways, too.

The secrets of running a successful home business

 

People who have “proper” jobs have a funny concept of what it is like to work from home, possibly because when they do have a day out of the office, not much “work” actually gets done….

 

If you are moving from an office-based job to a home office, here are five tips on how to make it work,

1. Have a proper office space

Don’t try to work at the kitchen table, in the living room, sprawled across the bed. None of that feels like a genuine place to work, and as a result you won’t feel like you are doing a proper job, which you are.

2. Open a work bank account

It doesn’t have to be a business account at first, as high street banks tend to charge extra for processing cheques, transactions and other fees just for businesses. An ordinary current account into which you pay your earnings and which is separate from your household accounts is free and a good idea. It helps you keep track of your money and allows you to demonstrate genuine business costs and expenses, which you will need to be able to do if the Inland Revenue comes calling…..

3. Keep records

The better your records, the fewer hours you will spend filling out your self-assessment form. When your business grows and/or you set up a company, you’ll need to do two sets of accounts – your personal accounts and one for your company.

4. Spend money wisely

You don’t need lots of expensive office equipment or a sophisticated accounting software package until your business is growing rapidly, but you do need very good anti-virus software on your computer or laptop.

Ten things they don’t tell you in business school about running your own business

Water lillies
Nurture your business

By Marianne Curphey

1. Business plans don’t work…. or rather, they don’t come to fruition in the ways you expect. When you have a fledging business it is very hard to predict the speed and way in which it will develop over the next year, never mind the next five years. So although it is important to have goals and objectives, don’t be too rigid in implementing them if new opportunities come along.

2. The business idea you start with won’t be the one you finish up with. One of the most exciting things about running your own business is watching it evolve into a bigger and better project than the one you started with. Dream big!

3. Nobody pays on time. Many a brilliant business has suffered and/or collapsed because creditors were tardy in paying up. Plan for late payment, and put measures in place to ensure you chase up unpaid invoices at regular intervals. This means having a robust system for logging work, invoices and payments, which will become more important as your business grows.

4. It’s harder work….and better fun than you could ever imagine. No more office politics, boring meetings, tiresome commutes to work…..but also no more being paid to chat by the water cooler or take long lunchbreaks.

5.People in PAYE jobs secretly think you watch daytime TV all the time. Some of them say it to your face. Relax, they’re just jealous. Disarm them by telling them how they too can make the break for freedom.

6. Cashflow, not a great business concept, is what keeps your business afloat in the long run. You can have a whole stadium’s worth of fantastic ideas, brilliantly executed, but if you don’t keep on top of your utility bills, tax payments, NI costs and other administrative tasks, your business will fail.

7. Diversification can save you in tough times. Try to think of as many ways as possible to monetise your ideas, both through active and passive sources of income. Think creatively.

8. Carry your business card everywhere. There is nowhere that’s out of bounds for networking, as long as you do it subtly and respectfully.

9. You are the brand. Your unique blend of skills and experience are what makes your business special.

10. Admin takes up about 50% of your time. When you plan your week, make sure you factor in enough time to deal with the boring stuff – bills, insurance, and well as the fun bits.

In my next blog I’ll be looking at how to manage your finances in a small business,

regards, Marianne

How to get your pricing right

By Marianne Curphey

While watching  re-runs of The Apprentice, it struck me forcibly how little time or attention the contestants gave to working out how they were going to make a profit from their business.

For example in one exercise the two teams were given the task of selling fast food to commuters with an initial budget of £250 for ingredients. Despite backgrounds in management, accountancy and sales, few team members seemed to grasp the concept that getting the pricing strategy right was absolutely fundamental to the success or failure of the project. They didn’t have profit targets and they weren’t keeping track of whether they were generating a decent return on Alan Sugar’s investment.

These would-be entrepreneurs demonstrated a trait which often leads to business failure – a lack of understanding of the fundamental importance of cash-flow.

If they had been in a real-life business environment, looking for investment from business angels (wealthy investors who support fledgling businesses), they would have been eaten alive. They may be called “angels”, but professional investors make Lord Sugar look like a pussy cat. They have very specific targets for the return on their initial investment, a timetable for exiting when they have made the money they want, and no hesitation in pulling the plug (ie the funding) if it is clear things are not working out.

In fact, it could be argued, as entrepreneur Luke Johnson does here in the Daily Mail, that The Apprentice does nothing to show would-be business owners the practical aspects of running a company, and instead sacrifices genuine business insight for pure reality-show entertainment.

So, forget about the circus show of television, and start to think like a real entrepreneur. Whether you plan to expand your business to the point where you will be seeking outside investment, or you want to keep it relatively small, but successful, you need to understand the principles of profit, cash-flow and putting together a balance sheet.

So here’s how to get your pricing right:

1. Work out your fixed costs: what are the recurring items or bills that you need to purchase or pay for each month in order to run your business?

2.  What are your variable costs? One-off or unusual items (capital expenditure: buying a long-term asset for the business), annual insurance costs (you can break this down into a per-month sum or build it into an annual balance sheet projection)

3. What is your  “break-even” point?  What do you need to make each month to pay basic bills like utilities, phone, rent or leasing costs for your premises, stock storage costs or staff wages? This is the amount you need just to stay afloat and keep your bank manager happy.

4. What is the cost involved per unit? ie providing each service or doing an individual job – ie travel costs, materials, phone calls?

5. What is the value your product or service provides to your customers? The Business Link website has an excellent explanation of the difference between the cost to you of providing the service, the financial reward you receive in return (ie the price) and the value the customer places on your service.

6. What benefits do you provide and on what criteria do customers buy – reliability, reputation, speed of delivery?

7. Establish your value. This is vital, because it helps you work out your unique selling point (USP), enables you to explain to customers why you are different from your competitors, and means you are not selling on price only, which is a dangerous game.

You may have the most brilliant business idea in history, but without a sound understanding of the way finance works, you will struggle to grow your fledging business. One of the most common mistakes when starting out is to concentrate too much on the names, logos, website or premises of your business, and spend too little time on working out the hardcore finances.

In my next blog I will be looking about how to assess your prices in comparison to your competitors, and whether to pursue volume or a smaller number of high-value sales.

regards, Marianne

Why right now is the perfect time to launch your own business

Time to become your own boss?
Why now is the perfect time to launch a business

So you want to run your own business, either because you are sick of your job, you’ve been made redundant, or you’ve had a long-held dream of creating something special? That’s great, because there has never been a better time to run your own show.

Contrary to received wisdom, new businesses can and do survive in tough economic times. The difference between launching your own business in a time of austerity is that you really have to think through your niche, your offering and your unique selling point (USP) in a way that you might not have needed to when money was plentiful.

And here’s why now is the perfect time to become self-employed:

1. Secure jobs are illusory: cut-backs, redudancies and downsizing in companies big and small show that there is no such thing as a job for life…..or even for the next five years. Just because you are on PAYE does not mean that your salary has a gold-plated guarantee. Self-employment offers a much more bumpy ride, income-wise, but no-one can ever fire you.

2.You can’t get finance: in my opinion this is an excellent discipline. We’ve all seen the figures about how one in three small businesses fail in the first few years, despite their creators writing fabulous, long-winded business plans to soothe the nerves of the bank manager when they are trying to get a bank loan. Creating a business that requires minimal investment and leaves you in total control is the best way to control costs and survive in a tough economic climate.

3.You’ll awaken your passion: who wants to hang around in a job they hate until the economy picks up…. or until they retire? Life is too short to spend eight or more hours every day doing something you hate. Finding an outlet for your creative business energy will inject more excitement and fun into your life than you ever dreamed possible.

4. Your business idea will need real focus: lots of flakey business concepts struggle on in good times because of the glut of disposable income. In a recession, you need to find an idea or product that people really need. This is absolutely the best discipline for concentrating your mind on how, why and where you will sell your products, and to whom.

5. The power of the internet is perfect for small businesses: once you were constrained by geographical boundaries, now thanks to social media, Google searches and the power of Facebook and Twitter you can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of prospective customers across the country – and the globe. This is perfect for tightly-targeted niche products which may have a limited market in the UK but a huge market on a global scale via internet marketing and selling.

In my next blogs I’ll be looking at what business schools don’t teach you about running your own business, and how to set up a micro-business while you are still in a job,

regards, Marianne