The A-Z of business tips, get your 2018 off to the best start

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The complete A- of business tips, to be utilised by the small, medium or large business owner, regardless of business type or industry.

A: Act fast. We currently live in a very fast world, a tweet for example lasts just 7 seconds and if someone comments on your social media post, they want an answer almost immediately. It’s just the world we live in. You need to be committed enough to ACT quickly, efficiently and professionally and respond accordingly across all of your social media platforms, to emails and to calls. Get prepared!

B: Beauty. Many of your customers (whether current or potential) will find and maintain their relationship with you via social media. They may even look you up on social media before they trust to buy from you so your social media has to be beautiful! Websites like Pixabay and Unsplash are great at offering you free (and royalty-free too) high quality imagery to ensure your social platforms are blur-free zones whereas Pferd Images offers top quality equestrian stock imagery. Canva allows you to create imagery for your social platforms with overlays, special effects and wording. Do some research and see what works best for you.

C: Criticise. You are often your best (and most harsh) critic so use this to your advantage. Every month, at a time to suit you when you can focus your mind and energy on your business, critique what has and hasn’t worked well for you. What social media posts have had the most engagement? Which email campaign was the biggest success? Which products or services sold the best? Then you know what to focus on, or what not to, for the coming month.

D: Delegate. As your business grows, you will have no option but to delegate. Yes, it’s terrifying (it’s something I’m just starting to do after 2 years in business!) but it’s the only way you can continue and grow your business. Find some people you REALLY like, trust and value and run a trial scheme to ensure the relationship works both ways. Good luck!

E: Enjoy it! I imagine you left employment to run your own business to be able to make the rules, do what YOU wanted and actually enjoy it. So don’t forget about that otherwise you’ll end up going mad! Find the time to enjoy yourself, even if it’s just for an afternoon. Afternoon Tea (with Champagne of course) is a prime example!

F: Finances. Did you know that 90% of businesses fail in their first year due to cash flow problems? So getting your finances in order in the early stages is vital for success. Don’t buy if you don’t need to, keep an eye of what you’re spending and ensure your invoicing terms suit your business. I learnt the hard way and was left being owed thousands. If you can, invoice an agreed price before you do the work and don’t start until you’ve received payment. It’s the only way I work now.

G: Goals! Your first goal may have to been to set up your business and start working from home. However you soon need to progress that goal into the number of clients you need to work with, how much money you need to take and how to make your business a success. Who is your dream client? Write it down and GO FOR IT! You’ve got nothing to lose. Writing it down makes it accountable, and as the great saying goes, “fail to plan and you plan to fail.” My great coach Linda the Master Fixer runs a goal setting workshop and having attended before, is one I can highly recommend!

H: Health. Sounds like a simple one, but do you really give yourself the nutritional support you need to ensure you’re as healthy as can be, minimising your chances of falling ill, and therefore being unable to run your business? Ensure you take regular exercise (go for a walk at lunchtime), eat the right foods (protein is great for brain function & to fight the mid-afternoon slump) and drink plenty of water. You can’t run on an empty tank.

I: Imagery. They say an image protrays 1,000 words. An incredibly powerful image can easily multiply that 10-fold. Photography is an investment; photos sell a story, sell a product and sell a lifestyle. They’re a way of helping you envisage that product in your life. It really is worth working with a professional photographer for photos of an exquisite standard, like this one from Hyde & Hare.

J: Joy. This ones simple – it’s probably the sole reason you started your own business. To enJOY it and to manage yourself. So don’t lose that. At times when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, write down what you love about your business, your 5 most proud achievements and what fills you with the most joy. You’ll soon be feeling joyous once again!

K: Knowhow. The knowhow in business comes with time and experience. Knowing what to share, knowing when to share successes, knowing systems that work and knowing how best to manage or tackle a situation all takes time. In my early days, I was working ridiculous hours and not invoicing for months before I had an issue with someone paying me and realised I had to change my invoicing strategy. I now invoice upfront so this issue is never (hopefully!) crossed again. In your own business, you will soon learn and know what works for your industry, your role and your clientele. It takes time, but you’ll get there!

L: Listen. When was the last time you listened to your customers? Do your systems really work for them? If you sell products online, is your website easy to use? Are your descriptions conclusive enough? Is your sizing accurate? If you offer a service, do you explain everything up front so the customer knows what they’re expecting, when to pay and the after care? What is it that they actually WANT from you? Put yourself in their shoes; they’re investing their hard earned money in you, you really should make it seamless.

M: Mini break. When was the last time you had some much needed time off to enjoy yourself, step away from your business and enjoy what the great outdoors has to offer? In stepping away from your office, your mind will still subconsciously be working away, as you think of new marketing ideas, social media campaigns and plans for your business. Some of the very best of mine happen when I’m out walking, riding or sat in a garden centre cafe. We put too much pressure on ourselves to work, work, work. Your mind needs a rest too! If a mini break isn’t possible, just have a day off and go and do something different. It will do you the world of good.

N: Netiquette. Your etiquette online. Many of your clients will find you online, whether that be through social media or your own website. Your manners acrss these platforms are imperative and need to be as professional as they are in person. You have one chance to shine online, make it count.

O: Overwhelm. Do you get overwhelmed with your never ending (and continually growing) to do list and client demands? You’re not alone. Firstly, make a list of priorities. Jobs that need doing as a matter of urgency or above the other tasks. Then list the other things that need to be completed. Set out your weekly plan, allocating time slots to each task, focusing on the priorities and deadlines first. Once you have that clarity in your mind, you can set to work, focusing on each task rather than subconsciously thinking about the huge list you need to get through with no real drive.

P: Plan. What would happen if you were to be taken ill? Do you have a plan in place to ensure you can still make money and allow your business to run smoothly? Whether that be through paying for indemnity insurance or having some savings stashed away, you really should be prepared. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s the simple and once your system in place, it will feel like a weight has been lifted.

Q: Question. Ask the question – what do your customers SEE when they go onto your website? Look deeper than the proof read. Or what do they see when you compose an email? A well constructed, grammatical beauty or spelling mistakes and laziness? This is often the first port of call for a customer finding you. So before you click submit, ask the question. What do they see?

R: Rest, relax, refresh. If you never actually make the time to rest, how can your mind and body possible recharge and refuel to keep you going? It can’t. You have to actually make the time to switch off and allow yourself to refresh, otherwise you will continually be running on empty. And that is absolutely no way to run a business. Book a spa day, try some yoga or go for a walk. The potential is powerful.

S: Schedule. A very important one and one that I regularly advise my clients. If you don’t schedule, you’ll be amazed how quickly your week goes by and you realise you haven’t posted for a while. Hootsuite is brilliant and Facebooks own scheduling tool works wonders too. Give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose and a huge amount to gain!

T: Trust. At times, you have to trust your instincts. Your head might be telling you to run, but your heart telling you to have a go. Deep down, you’ll know. Trust your gut feeling, sleep on something and if you’re really stuck, make a Pros and Cons list. Trust also comes into play when you take on staff, outsource and start working with others in your industry. Trust people, and let them trust you back. It’s all a 2 way working relationship.

U: Understand. Do you understand your market? Your industry? Your customers? You can’t just make a business, and expect it to be a success without understanding these 3 basic areas in which you will be involved. Do market research, speak to potential customers as well as industry experts and understand all you can related to your industry. Understanding doesn’t stop there either. You’ll need to continue to understand your clients, your employees and your industry for years to come.

V: Value. Value works both ways in business. You want to get value from your staff and contacts but you also need to give value in the products or service in which you offer. Price yourself too cheaply and your clients may think they don’t get good value. Price yourself too excessively and your clients may find it hard to understand how they get value from that investment. It’s a tricky balancing act but if your results speak volumes, the value should speak for itself.

Richard Branson once said, “If you can change peoples lives, you have a business.” Add decent value into that and you’ll be onto a winner.

W: Website. Your website is your virtual shop front. It acts like an advert and is often the very first impression someone may get of you. So it’s important it is as professional as can be, whilst being true to you and your brand. It’s suggested that you should edit your website every 6 months, as you grow as a person and your brand grows exponentially. When was the last time you did yours?

X: Xero. As a business grows, keeping on top of invoicing, finances and accountancy can be challenging to say the least! Having accounting software such as Xero, or Harvest, can help you keep on track of ingoings and outgoings, leaving you one less thing to worry about!

Y: Yes! Sometimes, you have to just say yes then figure out a plan afterwards. Obviously you also need to trust your instincts and your heart, but some of the best rewards and celebrations have come from an “oh why not!” moment. Embrace the opportunity and seize the day! Then enjoy the celebrations after!

Z: Zealous.If you are zealous, you have a great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. An objective can be a goal, an aim or a dream in business. Whether you’re studying to get your business qualifications or working on getting your products into the International market, that energy and enthusiasm remains, keeping you focused and on target. So to increase your chances of success you have to create a great energy as you work towards your goals. Be zealous, add zing and be the best?

If you’re needing a little bit more encouragement, why not take a look at these 22 inspiring quotes from successful entrepreneurs? It’ll give you the drive you need to succeed.

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