What I’ve Learned About Being In Business For 16 Years
After being in business for 16 years, last week I handed over the reigns to a new owner.
Many of my friends are asking how do I feel, what did I learn and are super curious to know what I’m going to do next?
It’s a funny feeling, kind of like an anti-climax. Probably because I’ve been banging on about selling them For. So. Long. as I mentioned here, and probably because I’ve spent the past few days getting over the feeling of exhaustion. The last 2 days before the lawyers were happy with everything so we could settle were chaotic, highly stressful and emotional charged!
Of course, I’m thrilled, as it now allows me to design and write a whole new series in this book of life and secretly just a tad scared as my regular income has dropped away.
One thing is for certain after 16 years of being in business and working for myself I couldn’t work for someone else!
My next venture will definitely include people, travel and helping people achieve what they want from life personally and in business. This site will play a huge role in that venture as will my social media channels.
Anyway, on with what I set out to do in this post and provide you with some insights about being in business for such a long time and some hints and tips for starting and staying in business.
16 Tips I’ve Learned About Being In Business For 16 Years
1. Start a business because YOU want to and that it’s really what YOU want to do
This was me when I started my business or so I told myself it was. I had a great career, one I loved training teams of people how to use a point-of-sale software programme. I met and married my second husband who wanted to leave the hospitality industry as a chef and do something different.
By chance, I bought a business for sale magazine, saw an ad for a new Franchise opening, investigated it, secured a loan against my home, left my job and opened our first store 3 months later.
After a few years, I realised it wasn’t MY dream to buy that particular business, resentment set in and subsequently our marriage failed.
2. Consider a Franchise for your first business if you are thinking a bricks and mortar business
But be careful. Franchise systems are great if you don’t know anything about business, as you (should) be buying into a proven system. Speak to as many existing Franchisee’s as possible, however, remember…
3. There is no such thing as a “perfect” Franchise system
No matter who I’ve spoken with in Franchise systems over my time in business nobody was completely happy with the system that they had bought into.
Do you have lots of management experience? Have you managed businesses, trained a team and been fully accountable? If so you probably wouldn’t need a Franchise system.
4. What about an online business?
For the past 6 years, I’ve learnt about building businesses online. Some skills I’ve learnt include
- using WordPress
- designing graphics
- social media marketing
- how to write blog posts
- how to buy websites
- how to sell websites
- how to sell online
If you have a skill that helps someone else solve their problem you could be sitting on a 6 or 7 figure online business. OR can you take your existing business online? You are NEVER too old, too experienced or too anything else! The only exception to this could possibly be you are too set in your ways! Open your mind a little and learn a new skill!
5. Systems are important and can buy you freedom
One of the most important things I’ve learnt in business is to train, delegate and let go. YOU don’t have to run the business every day at the coalface and if you are smart about it, you’ll concentrate on the skills you have and hand over the rest to someone else. You CAN’T be good at EVERYTHING. Even if you THINK you are, if I were a betting woman I’d bet a million bucks you are NOT!
If you can’t hand it over to someone else you are a control freak and not a very smart control freak as someone else could probably do it better than you could!
A bit harsh? Maybe! I KNOW this is TRUE because I’ve DONE IT MYSELF!!!
Once I found something more important than wanting to control everything, it was easier to let it go and pass it to someone else. PLUS they got to achieve what they were great at and I had a team of people that were way more satisfied with their job!
6. People are the most important asset in any business
Especially your team.
Please don’t call them staff, they don’t like it AND they will co-operate more if you treat them as a team member, ask them for their input and LISTEN to them.
Before I entered into business, I had a training role in Australia’s largest privately owned Hairdressing chain. I’d also worked as a successful salon manager in one of the 100+ salons previously. When I underwent my training I had the privilege of working with the manager who had the #1 store in the company. When I asked her what was the secret to achieving that #1 spot she told me it was simple, keep the team happy and the till (the money) would take care of itself.
That’s what I did. I listened to them, helped them, trained them, encouraged them and celebrated with them when they achieved something that was important to them. Within 6 months the turnover tripled and I had a happy team and happy returning clients.
7. Clients and customers
Are the lifeblood of a business. If your team is happy they will ensure your customers are happy. I always reminded my team that it was the customer who paid their wages as without them we wouldn’t have a turnover, therefore, no income.
Customers can also have “off” days. Days when they can be frustrated and if you are in the firing line you might just cop it.
(Some) Customers are NOT always right AND can be rude and nasty. Haters gonna hate, but not in my businesses. If a customer was being rude the team member had permission to ask the customer to leave the premises. Nobody has a right to behave badly and if that is the case they do so somewhere else.
(Some) people are just naturally grumpy and if we followed them into every business they visited they would be grumpy there too. Their grumpiness is nothing personal as they are like that with everyone, and everywhere they go. Thank goodness we don’t have to live with them, imagine that!
Your teams family will become before your business. You may think your business should come before little Johnny’s cold, however, they won’t see it in the same light!
9. Cash flow really IS king
You can’t run a business without it so you have to become a star at managing money correctly. Making sure there is enough in your account to cover your debt’s, including your rent and your team’s wages. If you can’t manage money, ASK for help! Immediately!!!
10. Suppliers and providers
I can’t think of a business that doesn’t rely on a supplier of some kind. Even if you run your business from your home office you still have electricity and telecommunication providers! Build a relationship with them, especially the suppliers who you do business with every week, you never know when you need a favour from them to supply a customer asap!
Pay your accounts ON TIME, EVERY time. This is a rare occurrence as most businesses are low on cash flow and will try to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the terms for as long as possible, which in turn creates a cash flow problem in your suppliers business. If the supplier is running low on a popular item guess who they will ensure who receives the item? yep, the business who pays their account on time.
11. Account holders
Monitor account holders payments if you offer accounts to your clients or customers. Now you are the supplier so it’s up to you to send out statements, monitor your accounts and follow up with phone calls for the late stragglers.
12. Unexpected and unplanned things happen that you can’t control
Like a natural disaster.
After 11 years in business, the worse flood in over 35 years totally wiped out one of my businesses and severely damaged the other one. Like most setbacks in business you either roll over and die or get back up and fight and as we had customers relying on us, we got back up and fought!
When something works, rinse and repeat. Too bad if you are bored with the simplicity of whatever it maybe that is working, if it works repeat it, then repeat it again until it no longer works!
14. Know your strengths
Know your skills and strengths (it’s normally what you love to do) and delegate the rest. Hone your skills and use them often.
All team members steal. It’s true! It might not be money but they ALL steal time. An extended lunch break, a chat on the phone, the use of social media or other websites. NO team member is such an angel that they don’t steal something from you at some stage in their career with you.
Some steal money. LARGE amounts of money. No matter how much it is ALWAYS report it to the police. I’ve had $82 stolen, hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars and hundreds of dollars in equipment stolen from my businesses. (And recently hundreds of thousands of dollars in a business I’ve invested in and lost the lot!).
Even though I’ve had team members steal, I still trust. Without trust in a business, there will be no respect. It comes with the delegation, letting go and point #5 above!
This is part one of “what I’ve learned about being in business for 16 years” read 20 more tips in part two here.
Have you, or are you in business or thinking about starting one? What would you add to the list or is there a question you’d like answered? Please leave in the comments below.