It’s all in a new year!

About Your Business

As most self employed people know, there’s so much more to running your own business than simply doing it! Mark Evans of ME Consulting, in his blog, puts out a few thoughts for those with concierge businesses, and I’d like to add a bit here. Entitled 5 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs, his ‘new year’ document suggests five things…

  1. it’s all right to pass on business
  2. don’t rest on your laurels
  3. be nice to your books
  4. build your network
  5. balance your work with your life

Let’s have a closer look. 

It’s all right to pass on business

When we first start our businesses we’ll do absolutely anything to keep funds coming in and the word going out about us and what we do.  And, like Martha Stewart says, that’s a good thing!  We need to expand our services, we need to offer things we weren’t originally planning on because these introduce new revenue streams to our business activities.

Often, taking on something we’ve never done before stretches us to learn new things… often, it’s the only way we will learn new things because there’s nobody sending us on courses and paying for our accommodation while we learn.  And so, taking on what we ‘think’ we ‘should’ be able to do will create new skills for us.  If a request seems far beyond our scope, we can partner in a joint venture with another business owner or we can refer the job to another provider, maintaining our contact with the customer.

Don’t rest on your laurels

We can never afford to take our customers and our opportunities for granted.  As Arch Brown, Barrie’s retail beacon for Canadian Tire, used to say… “it’s amazing how hard lucky people work!”

It’s true.  An entrepreneur can never take business for granted.  It’s important to maintain memberships in our business associations, to see and be seen frequently.  It’s critical to call former clients and stay in touch.  It’s important to thank ‘thank-you’ meaningfully and frequently.  It’s essential to meet new people and sell new services.

Being self employed never stops.  Busy is temporary unless you work it!

Be nice to your books. 

They’ll be nice to you.

Our financials are everything for us as we look back and look forward.  We can’t monitor what we can’t measure.

How much money did your business spend on advertising and promotion last year?  Which efforts were the most effective?

How much does it cost to run your office?  Insure your services?  Lease your equipment?

How much does each of your revenue streams bring into your business?  How many direct costs does each revenue stream have?  Which revenue streams bring in the most money for the least cost?  They might be the ones to put your
emphasis on!

By keeping accurate, up-to-date financial figures you’re keeping an accurate compass in your pocket.  You’ll know where you came from and that will help you decide where you’re going.  Your set of books, whether it’s a manual 36-column ledger or a computerized version of Simply or Quickbooks is your most important business partner.  Without your books, you’re stabbing in the dark.

Nurture your network.

Our suppliers are important to our business.  Our customers are important to our business.  We can’t function without both of them.  Those are relationships worth spending time on.  Keeping current with your business means having respected relationships with suppliers and customers.  We can’t meet the needs of our customers without having direct pipelines to our suppliers.

So important. Who have you thanked this week? Who have you congratulated? Who have your noticed?  Who have you applauded?  Important activities for the business owner.  Take notice, read newspapers and business publications.  Know what’s happening in your business community.  Take note.  Applaud.  Sympathize. Connect.

Balance your work and your life.

The first few years of self employment are all consuming.  Your business can become all you talk about, all you think about, all you pay attention to.  A playground trip with your child should not include a few messages on your cell device.  A dinner with a good friend should not mean texting while they’re looking at the menu.  To truly BE there for our family and friends, we need to NOT BE THERE for a few minutes in our business.

By giving full attention to the matter before us, we have energy to build that relationship, and then turn back to our business with full attention.

Dividing our energy and our attention never works.  Nobody gets much.  Including you.

So, how do we work towards balance?  I personally have found it most effective to put it in my daytimer.  At the
beginning of every year I go through my records and note the birthdays, anniversaries, business start up dates, significant and meaningful times for the people in my life.  I write them into my daytimer and as they approach I write and mail (yes! Snail mail) cards to the people who matter to me.

I take time.  I take time to let people know I care.  It’s part of balance.

Your daytimer can grant you two solid hours every week with one of your children.  It can grant you a movie night with your significant life partner.  It can grant you dinner or breakfast with a friend or a walk in a park with a colleague.

Your daytimer will not book these times for you.  You have to do it for yourself.

But, it’s an important step towards looking outside of your business at the rest of your life and bringing yourself into ALL of your life, not just your business.

It’s worth doing.