Tips for small business owners going it alone
Flying solo? Here are some great tips to help small business owners go it alone
A staggering 69 percent of all New Zealand businesses have zero employees. That’s 338,745 business owners going it alone – and working by yourself, for yourself can be a very lonely business.*
Business owners flying solo are everything to their company – they are the finance department, the marketing department, the human resources department, the receptionist and the CEO. That’s a lot of pressure resting on the shoulders of just one person and, not surprisingly, most small business owners all share stress as a common complaint.
On the flip side, going it alone provides a great deal of freedom and control. Without employees to account for, or answer to, you can work when you want, where you want and how you want – and the wins are yours alone.
One thing is for sure though, to succeed on your own you need to be highly motivated. Here are some tips that can help you stay focused, get the support you may not think you need and maintain your work-life balance.
Manage your timeWith so many hats, it’s important to take one off as you put one on. Don’t pile one on top of the other – they will only weight you down. If you are doing your bookwork, do your bookwork. Don’t get distracted by other issues (unless it’s a client, they always come first). It can also be helpful to set aside chunks of time for specific tasks and work to a routine, just like you are you would if you were working for someone else. This way you are more likely to follow things through to completion.
Don’t do everything yourselfJust because you don’t have employees, doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Outsourcing, delegating to contractors, virtual personal assistants and smart use of technology can all make your life easier. And, learn to say no. Your time is valuable; don’t waste it on things that don’t align with your vision.
Keep your balanceWorking when you’re on holiday, clocking up long hours and not making time for yourself and your personal wellbeing are all common themes for small business owners. But when you are working on your own, there’s no one else to notice changes in your mood or behavior, so that too becomes your responsibility. Keeping to a routine and factoring in time for relaxation, exercise, socialising and family life will help. Be sure you understand what it is that truly matters to you and act on it.
Business mentorFor genuine advice on how to run your business and decision-making support, what about a business mentor? You could approach someone you respect and initiate an informal mentor-mentee relationship or you could take the more formal route with a business mentoring organisation or even hire a business coach. Learning from those who have gone before just makes good business sense.
Find ways to connectEven though you may deal regularly with clients and contractors, it’s also important to maintain a connection with like-minded peers. Whether it’s for support, advice, a second opinion or someone to bounce ideas off, there are lots of communities out there – you just need to know where to look. Networking events, online forums, conferences and meetups are all great ways to offer and receive support and recharge your batteries. Talking to your competitors can also be a great way to compare notes and share ideas.
The added benefit or increasing your level of connectedness is that it also helps build your brand, generate sales leads and even attract capital. As a small business owner, you may sometimes feel like you’re on an island all by yourself – but remember, there are thousands of little islands out there just like yours. Build a bridge and you can help each other.
* Data source: Statistics New Zealand Business Demography, Feb 2014
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