I started my business, Tamarind Tree Consulting in June 2017.The last 16 months have been the most rewarding, and uncertain adventure of my life. Starting a new business as a sole trader is a huge change, particularly when you have worked for someone else for thirty years.
What have I learned in this time?
The first thing I have learned is that I can do far more than I would have believed. I have designed a website, written a business plan, worked on marketing plans, developed a social media presence, become familiar with finance requirements, the list goes on and on. I had believed that I was incapable of many of these things.
A trusted advisor is vital, in my case it quickly became clear this role would be filled by my accountant. Getting the right accountant will result in clear guidance, good advice and a solid grasp on the numbers. It is vital that you don’t confuse turnover with profit, and have a clear picture of what return you need to make it worthwhile to be your own boss.
You will be tempted to use spreadsheets for your accounts – I was! What I learned quickly is that a professional accounts package, such as Xero is a massive timesaver – other packages are available! It is critical to select the most suitable package for your business. It appears to be a cost you can do without, however it is worth the expense.
A clear brand image is really important. Understand your “why”and hone a pitch that can be delivered in under 30 seconds. It is easy to fill time, it is very hard to shorten your pitch. Clear branding with a clear value adding proposition will help you win business.
The most surprising thing I have learned is how easy it is to set up a limited company. I had a perception that it was a significant legal undertaking. In truth, it was almost trivial.
The most important thing I have learned is to enjoy what you have. When you are busy, enjoy your good fortune, and deliver quality products and services. When you are quiet, enjoy the free time and don’t feel guilty. Neither extreme is likely to be prolonged, so enjoy each time for its own merits.
If you are thinking of starting a business, I think the best advice comes in the form of a quote from Henry Ford;
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”