The things I wish I’d known before I started my own business

Starting a business is hard, period. It takes countless hours of hard work, discipline and stress however there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and usually the rewards are well worth it. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a hell of a journey and you’re bound to learn a lot about the world of business as well as yourself along the way. Here are some of the things I wish I knew before starting my first business.

Don’t try and re-invent the wheel

You do not need to invent the next revolutionary app to start a successful business. What many people don’t understand is that to be successful, you really don’t need to be unique at all. You just need to be better than a good chunk of your competitors.

The commercial cleaning market in Australia alone is worth a whopping $12 billion dollars. The fact is, you would only need to be better than the worst five to 10 per cent to be successful, if that. If you could secure just 0.01 per cent of the market, you’d be turning over more than a million dollars annually. Crowded markets just mean there’s a lot of money floating around, don’t be deterred.

Begin with the end in mind

When you start a business, it’s easy to think purely about the now. How will you communicate with your customers? Easy – you already have a mobile and you have that personal email that will do the trick. But in two years’ time, how will your office full of 20 employees communicate? Can they use your mobile and personal email too?

It’s important to think big and put in place systems early on that will allow you to grow. Make sure you set up email domains, shared phone systems and cloud-based collaborative tools so that you don’t create unnecessary hurdles for yourself as you grow.

Focus on value, not price

One of the most common mistakes of small-business owners is focussing on winning business through offering a cheaper service than their competitors. Considering that costs reduce with scale, this is a losing battle. Joe’s Burgers will never be able to make burgers cheaper than McDonalds.
So, rather than competing on price, compete on value. Make sure that your customers receive the highest-level product or service possible and charge above market rates. You’ll be amazed how many people subscribe to the philosophy of wanting to pay more to get more.

Don’t Underestimate HR

If you work hard and get a bit of luck along to way, you will start needing to employ staff to help you run and manage your business. Whatever you do, do not underestimate the challenges that come with this nor underestimate the need for good HR. Even if managing people directly comes naturally to you, something that will always be a challenge is managing the relationship between other staff members. You may find it easy to have your staff respect and follow your command, but to ensure they respect each other is a different story.

Persist

Being successful when starting a business is always going to be difficult but fate is kind to those who work hard and stick at it. These tips will help however it’s important to note that sometimes success relies on a bit of luck and good timing too. Microsoft launched their touch-screen tablets years before the iPad, but they were just a little too early with the technology! Just remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Edward Clayton, Director, Maid to Clean Home Services

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