In a moment of reflection here are the 6 things I've learnt about running your own business:
1. Don't be afraid to ask!
I suppose its the old saying of "you don't ask, you don't get". However (and this shouldn't come as a shock!) people don't like being sold to. Instead ask for advice, people are always happy to help and if they can see the benefit of what you are trying to do, can pass you on to people within their network who might be able to help or require your service.
2. Always have a plan of what you want to get out of an opportunity.
This links with the last point. Always have an idea of what you want to get from an opportunity, particularly if you are networking at an event and only have one shot to speak to someone. Keep it short and simple, no one likes a bore!
3. Prepare that things will take time to progress.
In one of my early meetings, I was talking to someone who has been running their own business/consultancy for a long time. They said prepare to wait and that a conversation you are having now can disappear for a few months and then finally come to fruition in 10 months time, if not longer. This is very true, so its about how you keep in touch with these people and getting enough conversations out there that will take time to mature over time and hopefully come to something.
My advice is keep a good diary and when you have spoken to someone and always them when you will follow up, to set expectations. At that point go back to point two above and think about how you can move the conversation along.
4. There is so much advice online and on LinkedIn, which can ultimately be distracting, focus on a few!
Maybe I'm being a bit of a critic on this point seeing as I'm writing a blog about advice! However, my point is, if you read everything out there you wont know what to do or have time to run a business!
I'm not saying it's not good advice, some bits I've found it very useful, however, stick to a few people you like and respect. By reading it all you start to find articles that contradict each other and it just leaves you back where you started but this time with a headache!
5. Take time to list out what you have achieved so far.
On the quieter days, make sure you list out what you have achieved so far and what is in your pipeline. It re focuses you and reminds you that you have done a lot since you've started even if that slower day is trying telling you otherwise! Also remember to look at your original business plan regularly and make sure you are staying focused on the original outline, even if the business offering is evolving.
6. Believe in yourself and have a good support network behind you.
If you've got something, stick with it! For me there is nothing better than working with a client and after the session getting great feedback about how they are going to use what you have worked on together.
However, working on your own or even if you have a co-founder like I do can still be a lonely place sometimes, so make sure you keep in contact with your friends and family. Tell them what you are currently working on or planning and they will be a good sensor check. Even if you plan to go ahead anyway, a simple "Yes, I like that idea" can give you the ultimate confidence boost to keep on going. It also works if your idea isn't quite there, listen to what they say and you might find a few gems of advice!
I hope the above has in some way helped. If you have started a business or are going to start one, my advice is if you have a strong business plan and can take the risk then go for it!
Enjoy the experience as whether its successful or not, you will have gained so much from the whole process and added to your skill set hugely. Answer that "what if" question!