Seven months after leaving the Liverpool Echo, I started my own business in July 2015. I am a writer and designer and I work for schools, charities and businesses; what I write and what I design is largely up to them.
Some days I am a graphic designer, other days I am a blog writer, other days I am a web designer. I turn my hand to pretty much anything that involves writing or designing and judging by the feedback I get from my customers I make a pretty decent fist of it.
I’m no business expert but I have learned several things in my first 16 months in business and I thought it would be helpful to others starting their own businesses. I’ve limited it to five because nobody wants War and Peace from a blog entry and because I don’t want to overwhelm anyone.
1. Be confident and believe in yourself
This is a cliché but it’s also true. When you start doing whatever it is that you’re doing, you will meet other business people who will tell you that you’re not right for the business world or that what you do is already being done. Do not believe them or you will prove them right. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, work hard at what you do and let your customers tell you whether your idea is a good one or not.
2. Make lists
If you’re working from home then making lists is essential. Without a boss to tell you what you should be doing next, they make getting started and moving from one thing to the next a lot simpler. It is also hugely satisfying to tick off your list at the end of each day.
3. Know when to stop
This is hugely important if you have a family. You will read stories about having to work 20-hour days to be a success in business. My view is that family life is just as important as success in work and that no matter how understanding your wife/husband/partner may be, it is vital to show them that your business is not more important.
4. Ask for help
This can range from asking other business people for advice to Googling “how do I type the pound sign on a Mac”. Often, getting the question right is the hardest part – once you’ve done that bit then you will almost certainly find that people really want to help.
5. Try to enjoy it and ditch the rose-tinted specs
You may encounter times when you think starting your own business has been a huge mistake and you want to go back to your old job and its regular income. Keep reminding yourself of the enormous advantages to working for yourself and your reasons for doing it in the first place.