28 women share their top business tips
If there’s one thing we’ve always loved, and that has really helped us on our own journey in building our business, it’s getting advice from other entrepreneurs.
Nothing beats generously shared, real, hard-won experience. It helps you to feel less alone. To avoid some of the potholes that may have left others battle-scarred. And it can save you time, energy, hope and money.
Running your own business can be lonely
Let’s face it, launching and growing your own business can be a lonely experience. You have no colleagues to complain to, nor manager to support you and keep you on track.
And when you hit a roadblock it can feel like it’s just you who is struggling.
But trust us, there is virtually no bump in the road that other entrepreneurs haven’t overcome before you. So, to help spread some of the amazing wisdom and experience out there, we asked the wonderful women in our free Facebook group the TLC Business Club what advice they’d love to share with other entrepreneurs.
So here’s the generously shared, real, hard-won experience from 28 female business owners.
1) Know your value
Stick to your ethos and offering something of quality, know your USP/value and don’t waiver. Know that you may not pay yourself much in the first couple of years, especially if you take on other staff, but perseverance is key if you know what you’re offering has a market.
Don’t let anyone dictate to you how to run your business (know your red lines with customers) but do take advice from others who have proven themselves in your industry.
2) Hire a coach or join a mastermind
I have learned over the past five years to become more fluid in my business. See what’s working, and do more of that. Make sure you know where your revenue is coming from. Take time out to actually look at your business, and connect with others.
Hiring a coach or joining a mastermind can really shift gears in your business. Focus on getting better first, then growth. I talk about my shifts in this podcast episode.
3) Surround yourself with cheerleaders
A good network of cheerleaders is essential! Starting and running your own business can be stressful so try to surround yourself with people that fully support you, people that are going to pick you up when the going gets tough and not bring you further down.
I have a group of people that also believe 100% in what I’m doing – I know I can go straight to them for advice or a boost and it’s been invaluable!
4) Be confident in your prices
My advice would be to research, network and collaborate and also be confident in your prices. There will always be someone offering cheaper / Ggroupon offers, but believe in your service and products.
5) Support other entrepreneurs
Support other female business owners, that’s where the magic lies!
6) Don’t compare
Don’t compare yourself to others. Have your own plan for success and focus on that.
7) Keep your eye on your goal
Sometimes it can look like others have been an overnight success and you put pressure on yourself to achieve in the same way.
The reality is that if you’re starting a business when you have small children it’s an incredible juggle. You will need some kind of childcare and that costs ££££. It can feel very demoralising to see your hard earned income flutter away, but keep your eye on the long term goal: it will be worth it in the end.
8) Use every experience – good and bad!
Every experience has something to teach you – whether good or bad – it’s all adding to your development and growth. Both as a person and business owner. Use every experience to add value.
9) Make use of networks
Know that it will likely take some time for you to refine your product or service. Listen carefully to customer feedback but also to your own instinct. Focus on what you truly enjoy and which also will bring in revenue. And that you will make mistakes and sometimes it will be tough or you won’t know the answer.
Make use of networks too, especially the many fabulous ones you can find online – they can be a source of great support and help, good if you don’t have time to go to physical networking meetings too.
10) Find other business owners to support you
I would 100% suggest getting a group of other small business owners as your support network. Friends are great, but they do not understand the same pressures as running a business. Business owners understand that you might have a melt down at 9:15am but still jump on a Skype call with a client at 9:45am, and how to!
11) Cash, costs and customers
Cashflow is so important, probably the most significant factor – there will be times of feast and famine but being aware of your cashflow and not overspending is key to maintaining an even keel.
Which leads on to costs – know your overheads and build them in to your pricing don’t spend a fortune on unnecessary things, especially at startup – for example those triple layered soft touch business cards may look gorgeous but they do the same job as ones a fifth of the price – unless you are selling business cards or are rolling in cash, start with the cheaper ones.
Always think about how something you invest in for your business is going to add to your bottom line. Even if you are rubbish at accounts like me, you have to keep an eye on these.
Customers are of course critical and customer service paramount in our super competitive world and just one singing your praises can make a world of difference. Dealing with difficult customers is a necessary evil though – the late payers, those that always want something for nothing and never seem happy need a strategy too.
Sometimes a customer is just like that and you have to consider whether the business relationship is mutually beneficial. If not, you need to think of the best way to end or stall the relationship peacefully and hopefully amicably before they either bleed you dry or effect your mental health. Love your best customers and always acknowledge a referral – they are golden.
Lastly – running your own businesses can be lonely – get backup – network, call people up, meet for a cuppa and participate in groups like the TLC Business Club on Facebook.
12) Take time out to evaluate your business
Plan some time off, before you do anything else. If you can, take four days out where you do nothing but review your current situation and look at your goals. What training needs do you have? Where will you get support? What space will you need? Then break that down into small steps until you get to a step you could take today.
The whole thing can feel overwhelming – until you take some time out and take small actions towards achieving what you want, it can feel impossible. Don’t wait until you’re not working to do this – in fact taking four days out is even more important if you have a day job.
13) Remember your why
Display a note somewhere prominent, it might even be on your computer screen, of the reason you started your own business. That way, on bad days, you can remind yourself of why you’re doing this.
14) Set SMART social goals
Social media is essential for any new business but make sure you spend some time putting a strategy in place before you start posting. Set yourself some SMART social media goals, really get to know your audience, analyse your competitors, refine your tone of voice and work on a content strategy.
You don’t need to be on every social media platform, choose 1-2 that your audience also uses and do those really well.
Plan. Don’t shy away from the numbers, even if you’re ‘not a numbers person’. Ask others for help, research online, do a Youtube course, whatever it takes, but make sure you turn your business ideas into numbers and build a cash flow. Preferably one that you can tweak, so you can model out different ideas. You need to be all over your business’ cash or you won’t have a business for long.
16) Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (or offer it!).
17) Streamline your systems
Organise and streamline your systems early, invest in the CRM software and somewhere to organise your accounts! Also don’t work all the hours while your children are tiny. It’s hard enough having little kids without working all night too.
18) Get guidance
Get help and guidance to take you on the journey. It’s efficient ( saves you time), helps with that feeling of support and gives you clarity on how to move forward. You can’t do this for yourself.
19) Look after the inner you
Look after the inner you as well as the outer, you need to make sure that the confidence, mindset and beliefs you have about what you think you are capable of, what is achievable, what you’re worth and so on is rock solid otherwise all the other practical, strategic stuff will fall by the wayside.
You have to believe in yourself and your abilities before you can expect anyone else to and this means spreading your net wider than your immediate family and friends for support and feedback. It’s the foundation upon which literally everything else is built.
You can learn about marketing and sales and click funnels and all that jazz later ….work on you first, it’s not indulgent or a ‘nice to have’ it’s vital.
20) Reflect on what you’re doing
Take time to evaluate and reflect! What do you actually enjoy doing? What is going well? What is too much effort for little reward? It will really help shape your business in to exactly what you want it to be and what you are best at.
21) Don’t give up
I’d definitely say you’ve got to have staying power especially if you are starting a business from scratch. It will take a least a year if not longer to get up and running. Don’t give up! Also, when I think back some of the changes I am implementing now (nine months in) people advised me to do at the start, I just wasn’t ready to implement.
it’s a learning curve so listen and store up the advice, it will become clear which bits you need to implement once your business gets started.
22) Revisit your purpose every six months
Why you first started your business and why you continue it can change over time, without realising that your drivers have changed. Every six months or so revisit your why, and why now so whatever decisions you make are made with conscious awareness.
23) Build your tribe
Get a solid support network and build your tribe. My business besties provide invaluable support when I need it.
24) Don’t give too much away for free
Surround yourself with positive people at all times. Get a mentor or coach, and network strategically. Don’t go to every event – always factor in the return on investment and take into account the commute time and cost. To not do so many 121s / coffees – move these to virtual coffees via Skype.
Value your time and your knowledge and don’t give so much away for free. Skill exchanges are fab when you are starting off as you can get testimonials and services for your business but there comes a time when you need to start charging your worth. Work on your money mindset.
Look after yourself – exercise, eat well and don’t try to do everything. Outsource everything which is not within your zone of genius. Be clear on your why and your elevator pitch. What do you do and why… work on your branding which is so much more than a logo.
Invest in CPD and little by little push through your comfort zone – even if you are an introvert like myself you will need to talk to get exposure whether it’s online, via a webinar, podcast, workshop etc. I naively thought everyone would come to my website when I launched… ha!
Work on your email marketing and start creating your list from the off. Don’t compare yourself to others (hard I know) you are unique so own that… don’t worry re imposter syndrome. We all get it. Have a back up plan!!
A lot of great entreprenurs have part time jobs or contract work but nobody really speaks about this side of things. Get in touch with your local council for advice – I’m lucky to have the amazing Startup Croydon down the road from me.
25) Dress for work
I’ve worked from home for nearly ten years. Resist the temptation to work in your jogging bottoms. Dress like you mean business even if it’s a pair of jeans and a smart shirt or t-shirt. If you work from home make sure you have a dedicated space to work in. It really helps to separate your work from home life.
Try and break up your working day with a walk or some exercise or meet a friend for a coffee. Find your tribe, having some virtual or in person cheerleaders is invaluable when you run your business.
26) Know your worth
Know your worth and then add tax. This means yes, taking the jobs in the early days that you’re not quite sure about, but learning from those too. Make sure you always get something other than cash out of every single project: testimonial, new methodology, new sign up strategy, whatever it may be.
27) Have a well thought out website
In this day and age having a online presence is obviously imperative. If your time is limited the most important thing is to have a well thought out website (preferably) or at least a fully populated profile on facebook or LinkedIn.
You need to give your customers the maximum opportunity to find out about your business and contact you or purchase easily. There is no point doing any other digital marketing until you have somewhere to send people.
28) Say yes to opportunities (especially ones that scare you)
For me it’s about saying yes to opportunities especially the ones that scare you, and not overthinking and talking yourself out of it. Those opportunities are the ones that make a difference to how you feel about yourself and takes your business places you never knew you could go.
Having a support network other than family and friends is also essential and even better to have a coach or mentor that will challenge you to go further!
Love to get to know these fabulous women better? Join our free Facebook group for entrepreneurs!