Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Ultimate 5 Lessons in 5 years of creating, building and running their own businesses.
1.Rebecca Newenham: CEO Get Ahead VA
I founded Get Ahead VA in 2010 after recognising a gap in the market for virtual assistance services that offered the flexibility, value and performance that small businesses and start-ups need in our 21st century, digital economy.
Six years later, my award-winning team of over 30 virtual assistants support hundreds of SMES across the country. With experts in a variety of business areas including Marketing, PR, Social Media, Administration, Events, Bookkeeping and more, we deliver cost effective business support enabling you to grow your business. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.
Your 5 experiences/lessons:
•Starting your own business is a daunting prospect, particularly if you are leaving a behind a secure job. But starting your own business could be the best decision you ever made. Consider carefully why you want to do it (for me it was about flexibility around my children) and the best route to get there, with minimal start-up costs and maximum results. Then just get on with it.
Don’t take things personally.
•I have occasionally been let down a client that didn’t pay, or an assistant that left to work for a client/competitor. I have learnt from it and put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It can be frustrating but try not to take it to heart. You can only control yourself – your own actions and emotions – and no one else’s.
Don’t be afraid to change and adapt.
•No one ever gets everything right first time. Like any business I have refined what we do and the types of clients and virtual assistants we work with. Think not of mistakes but of everything being part of the learning journey, enabling you to become a more successful business in the future.
Use a business coach.
•I have worked with a business coach for a number of years and she has made a real difference. She enables me to think through any issues and how I can best resolve them. She encourages me to think about the bigger picture and set clear goals for the business which I have stuck to my office walls. This keeps me on track and ensures I am investing my time (and my money!) in the right places.
Invest when you need to.
•A few years ago I invested in a new website, which proved to be really worthwhile. It made a real difference to our reach online and helped develop social media as a key referral channel for us. You need to continuously invest in your business to drive it forwards and achieve your objectives.
One Line Advice:
“If things don’t turn out quite right first time don’t panic – keep evolving until you get it right.”
Where can one contact you?
Do get in contact on 01483 332220 or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram.
Graham Parker: I’m a former TV documentary maker turned PR consultant. After starting my career digging coal, in 2001 I launched my own PR and Marketing services agency, where I still am to this day.
When working with clients I tend to operate as the bolt-on PR and marketing resource they don’t have in-house and bring a raft of Director level experience and skills to the table.
When I’m not working with clients, I use my professional and personal experience to motivate and inspire business audiences and school students via my unique, exciting and sometimes challenging talks.”
Your 5 experiences/Lesson?
1.The first five years are supposed to be the hardest. – In truth they are all hard, but the rewards are well worth it. In the early days, even with money tight, don’t try to do everything by yourself. Financial management is key, as is marketing. Get good advice from people in both areas and get an accountant ASAP, I learnt early on just how big a difference having a professional look at your books can make.
2. When I started I made the mistake of being too comfortable with a couple of large clients. They ate up a lot of time (do NOT over service people, you will be taken for granted) and prevented me from expanding my client portfolio. When a big client leaves, and they do, they will carry on while you struggle with the impact of income loss. Learn to dedicate time to business growth.
3. Get an office. Separating my home time from work time was a massive bonus for me. The day I got my own office and could leave the house to come back to it after doing a shift away was the best thing I did. The psychological shift I feel when I head out for work puts me in a far more productive mode.
4. Networking for small businesses is essential. It’s not always about seeking out a new client, as good as that is, it’s about showing to others that you have something to offer. If you can introduce someone to a client that is helpful to them then you add value on both sides. Try going to a networking meeting thinking about how you might be able to add value to your existing customers – it’s a real winner.
5. Being in business and running your own company can be really lonely and all consuming. You did not go into this to work yourself to death for the same as you would working for someone else. Take time out to do things completely different to work. There is nothing more boring than someone who only ever wants to talk about their work.
One line advice you would give any start up. – You are going to work for yourself – make it work for you.
Where can one contact you?
3. Sadie Harries : Management Consultant.
Sadie Harries is an established management consultant who went self-employed at 24. Over the past 12 years she has run her own consultancy firm that has gone from working with small local companies to improve their HR and management practices, to working with large scale organisations like RAC, Santander and Councils to help them conduct strategic reviews, implement culture change, and undertake organisation redesign projects.
With her business doubling in size each year for the past 5 years, she has now joined forces with a project management consultancy to form C Squared Consultancy, which specialises in implementing complex, large scale transformational change programmes.
In addition to this, Sadie also holds a number of Non-Executive Director roles with emerging businesses and social enterprises, coaches / mentors business leaders to develop their impact in the workplace, and delivers keynote presentations on the emerging trends in organisation design, strategic HR and leadership development.
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Your 5 lessons over the years?
1). Everyone feels like a fraud / like they’re making it up as they go along – don’t let it hold you back from having a go and trying your best.
2). If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Embrace the downs/challenges as opportunities to learn and pick yourself up again.
3). You can be the best at what you do, but if people don’t like you or can’t relate to you, they won’t choose to work with you, so let yourself shine through your professional front and be a person when in business.
4). People will help if you ask – so when working with people tell them what a good work opportunity / sale : customer / project looks like – you’d be surprised how willing people are to hook you up with a recommendation.
5). You don’t need to know all the answers all of the time, so don’t hold back just because you can’t see the whole path in front of you – things will become clearer as you move forward – just trust in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!
Where can our readers connect with you?
Website: www.c2.org.uk .
4. Vee Roberts : Founder and CEO of Insight2Marketing.
Hi, I’m Vee Roberts, mumpreneur of 4 children and owner of insight2marketing and inspireUrBiz events. I’ve been in business for a few years now after taking big leap from being an employee for 15+ in senior marketing roles. I now consult, coach and train other business professionals, on how to deliver offline and offline marketing on a budget for greater brand authority.
Your 5 lessons over the years.
1. Be realistic. I remember one of my biggest challenges was delivering 4 events in one week (target of 40+ people at three of the events and 180 at the 4th). I will never do that again! It was too ambitious of me and I was nearly forced to cancel one of the events as I didn’t think anyone was coming. But then over 30 people turned up so it was a success.
2. Not having the guts to employ staff. After a while, as your business grows you have to be willing to outsource tasks that are complex, boring or taking up too much of your time. I have a VA now for my admin and work with a small team. Prior to the latter part of last year I did most things as a one woman band!
3. Don’t get into cliques. Seriously, its nice to be known in a specific circle but get your face out there. You may even find you get more clients that way. Expand your network with people who will support you and also inspire you. You don’t “have to” only hang out with millionaires but your network should be a blend of substance!
4. Consider partnerships carefully. Understand what the benefits are of all parties involved, you may get burned if you take on all opportunities offered. Not everyone is looking out for you (sad but true) and some people are only about themselves.
5. Invest in yourself. I started on less than £100 budget (after spending off all of my redundancy)! So in the beginning i could not afford a coach or mentor. Save what you can, if you don’t have it immediately and invest in your personal development (when hiring ‘experts’ always check their credentials, reviews and career history – have they already achieved what you want to achieve?)
Advice to startups
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach a deadline or sales target, baby steps are better than no steps.
Where can one contact you?
I’d love to hear from you Tweet me @i2marketing, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn I can also be contacted, simply search #aski2m or “insight2marketing”