Starting and running a business is both rewarding and challenging.
I set out on this journey almost 2 years ago starting up a traceability technology company, TraSeable Solutions, together with my wife and also running a sole-trader consulting business.
There are many things I know now that I wish I knew when I started out.
With the growing interest in entrepreneurship here in Fiji and in the Pacific Islands, I thought I’d share some of them:
1. Set up as an LLC
Separate your business from your personal assets and finance by forming your company as a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
It might cost a little more to do but it’s better than having to worry about the taxman reaching into your personal assets and finances if you don’t make it.
2. Do your own books
Learn to keep your own financials – cash book, profit and loss, taxes, etc.
And learn to do basic analyses on your financials regularly – simple things like where your money is going, are you profitable, what your cashflow situation is like, etc.
Get into the habit of doing your books weekly or fortnightly and stick to it.
3. Minimise the time you give others
It’s nice to volunteer your expertise to certain events, projects, meetings, etc and its possible to minimise your time on those things.
But remember that when you’re invited to attend those events often the other people attending it have salaries and are getting paid to be there.
If you have a skill or experience that people really want then they should be willing to pay for your time to share it.
4. Learn to develop your brand
Until you develop a portfolio of work and have established yourself you’ll have to chase opportunities.
Learn to craft your brand and how to project it through your main marketing channels to attract clients.
5. Learn to sell
Your brand may put you in front of a client but how do you convince them to buy what you’re offering?
Selling can be learnt if you’re not a natural at it. There’s heaps of resources online on how to sell.
Here’s a hint: it often comes down to people’s Fears and Passions.
6. Know who your customers are
Unless you’re starting a not-for-profit you need to know who your customers are that will pay money for your products and/or services.
Without that you’re not going to have a viable business regardless of how good you think your product or service is.
7. Don’t rely on others to help you
Nobody is obligated to help you on your journey. Not your loved ones, your family, your friends, and certainly not the Government.
You’ll probably lose more friends than anything else. Don’t worry, you’ll make better ones.
You’ll know who the people you can trust are and whose opinions really matter.
8. Chase up every opportunity
There’s no time to be shy – chase up every opportunity. Many won’t come through but you only need one or two to open doors. Sometimes when you least expect it.
Take every opportunity to give your business card out regardless of whether or not you think it may be useful.
Treat every rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve for the next time. Be disappointed, pick yourself up, and try again.
Above all – persevere!
9. Be prepared for financial insecurity
Business ebbs and flows. There will be times when you’re flushed with cash and others when you’ll be scraping the bottoms of your bank accounts with no security.
These are the events that will teach you the most about resilience, about yourself, and what’s important in life. You’ll have to be creative and dig deep to get you and your family out of tough situations.
Learn to save for a rainy day. Invest your money and learn to live on less.
At the end of the day you have to keep a roof over your family and food on the table.
10. Success takes time
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Likewise, neither will your business. Give yourself 2 to 3 years to develop your business and see success. In that time, constantly learn from your experiences and setbacks and tweak your business along the way.
Don’t worry about failure – it’s just another opportunity to learn and grow.
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