13 Pieces of Advice

Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Urban Times October 2013.

13 Pieces Of Advice You Need To Know When Starting A Business


People often ask me what business I think they should go into and my reply is always the same – find something you really enjoy doing and try to devise a way of making money at it.

Working just for money is a fairly soulless activity. Of course if you have a family to feed then you might have to do something you don’t enjoy for a while just to put food on the table, but when it comes to creating your own business it really is up to you.

Here are my top statements of advice to making your business successful:

  1. One of the common mistakes new entrepreneurs make is assuming that their time is their own, because in reality, it isn’t. Not if you want to be successful it isn’t anyway. It belongs to your customers. We can manufacture all sorts of amazing things but it is not possible to manufacture time, so remember that every morning when you wake up. There is an old saying that goes “use it or lose it” which is often used to describe the brain but has equal relevance for the use of time. Essentially there are many things you can do to increase your chances of success, but managing your time is without doubt the most important.
  2. Going off to the pub or restaurant with friends in the middle of a working day might be a nice activity but if you neglect your business to do so you will ultimately pay the price.
  3. Business first is an old saying and a true one. By putting your business first you are ultimately putting yourself and your family first.
  4. Customers are what matter because if they generate enough money, worries evaporate and your life improves dramatically.
  5. Focus on what your customers want and you won’t go far wrong. Listen to what they are telling you, watch what they buy and supply more of the same. Research your business and understand all the idiosyncrasies that are part of it. Read anything that relates to your industry, watch any TV programmes that mention your industry or product lines. Make it your business to be an expert at what you do. There is no such thing in my opinion as too much knowledge.
  6. It is essential to believe in your business and even more important to be honest with your customers. Communicate with them regularly – periodically just pick up the phone and ring a few randomly. Tell them you are not trying to sell them anything but you would just like to know whether they are happy with your service or product and, if not, what they would like you to do about it.
  7. To succeed in business you must think long term and that means not being frightened to ask whether your customer is satisfied. If you don’t ring him/her they probably won’t ring you first, but they will almost certainly be telling someone somewhere how good or bad you are. You can be sure of that.
  8. Engage with your customer base. Make sure they know you care and that you are in it for the long run.
  9. Try not to keep switching email addresses, telephone numbers or websites. People like to feel you are stable and focused on your business, so make sure you are.
  10. Self-employment is a wonderful way of life. You get to choose when you work in most instances but that in turn gives you a responsibility not to abuse that choice. If you want to be successful you will need to put the hours in. I’m not saying that you should work night and day – I am against working too many hours because it can be counterproductive. But without devoting the time and energy to your business its ultimate potential will be damaged.
  11. Business relationships are similar to personal relationships – the more you put in the more you get out. But don’t expect overnight results. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. Keep working at your marketing plan. List every way you can think of that will promote your business without advertising. Could you be more active at networking? What about a weekly newsletter? Are there any complimentary but non-competing businesses that you can align with for mutual promotion?
  12. Keep thinking and working on your business rather than for it. Send out press releases if you have something important to say or a new product to promote. Include photographs and comments from customers.
  13. Look at your day as a bucket with a hole in the bottom, whatever you do the water will leak out just as your day will evaporate. Your job is to get the most out of your day before it is gone forever.

Original article for the Urban Times October 2013.

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