Today we’ve got a guest blog from Liz Weston who we all know and love as Cambridge Mummy – a successful entrepreneur and mum of two.
Liz works full time and her husband, “Lovely Bloke” is a stay at home dad who keeps the home fires burning whilst she works full time. Having now set up three businesses of her own, and made all of them profitable to varying degrees, Liz is sharing some thoughts on her experiences of starting businesses from scratch with Tots100 bloggers.
“Starting your own business” is a phrase that sounds sooooo exciting, doesn’t it?
People envisage a trip to the stationery shop, appointing an accountant to tell you how much money you’ve made and how many handbags you can buy and of course, having a bone fide business card. It’s fabulous.
But the reality is usually a bit different. In my case, starting my own business came from a need to earn money, quickly. There was no buying of stationery. There was no accountant – we did it ourselves.
And I didn’t have a business card for the first year. For me, my husband’s looming redundancy, after nearly 20 years with Cambridge University Press, from his lovely job which gave us a great lifestyle, suddenly became real and he along with more than 100 others, had an approximate date for leaving the Press.
So within the time between our finding out the rough date and it actually happening, I set to, taking my business idea from something that was a possibility to a reality. I was uber motivated because if it didn’t work, I was going to have to go back to work full time in my old job and I was worried about doing the international travel. (Sounds glam, but it wasn’t, I assure you…)
I could share lots of details about how it happened but I don’t think they will help you make progress if you’re starting up your own business. Instead, here are three of my top tips of things to think about when starting up a business…
- Decide if it’s going to be something that you are earning money from to buy handbags with, pay for family holidays from or, provide a source of income for your family to live from – to pay the bills, to buy food and to put petrol in your car. The pressures you put on yourself, in my opinion, to run a business, should be relative to the goals that you have for the income from it.
- Set a timetable for when you will assess whether it’s working or not. To do this, you need to have decided on number “1”. Decide on a date and write it down – in your diary, or somewhere that you will see it. On that date, you will review the time and effort you’ve been putting into your business and whether it’s generating the money that you want from it. If you are unsure, you’ll be able to decide if you want to give it another 6 months, and what you will do in that time, to move things on. Or you might realise that you’re doing really well and don’t need to step it up another gear. Or finally, you may decide it’s just not worth the effort. All of these outcomes are fine, because you will have reviewed and made a decision, which is one of the hardest things to do when starting up a business.
- Don’t listen to others – I used to always say that if you want to get a business going, you have to be prepared to miss playgroups and coffee dates with your friends to be able to get it going. That’s what I did, so I obviously thought it was the way forward. But now, nearly five years later, I can see that I could and indeed would have still made a success of my business, if I’d gone to the groups, because I would have worked either more efficiently or done something to make it happen. You don’t have to listen to me, or anyone else, because we’re all reporting from our own personal experiences. And they are different to yours. So by all means, read this blog, and then ignore it, because making your business successful is something only you know how to do.
Thanks to Liz for these great tips. What have you found challenging about starting your own business?