There are more entrepreneurs than there have ever been before. More people are hoping to launch their own companies or otherwise work for themselves, and everyone seems to be calling themselves an entrepreneur, often without any real skills or experience.
In many ways, this is great. More small business is excellent for the economy, and it allows people to earn money doing something that they love and to work flexibly around other commitments. But it also makes things harder. It means that there is more competition for customers and more for customers and critics to compare you to. It also means that people think that it’s easy. There’s definitely a “well if they can do it, so can I” attitude. Within this, there are certain things that most entrepreneurs and small business owners think that they can do. They are convinced that some elements of running a business are easy. That they won’t need any help with them, and that they will be fantastic at. Thinking that they are good at these things often means that they assume that their business will have to be a success.
Of course, if you want to, there’s no reason that you can’t go it alone and do well. And, if you actually are good at some of these things, that’s even better. But, if you need help with some of the others, that’s fine too, and it’s definitely worth getting it to make your business a success.
Absolutely anyone can start a website nowadays, right? Well, while this isn’t far off true, that doesn’t mean that everyone can do it well. Platforms like WordPress are straightforward to use, and most people can learn enough CSS to make their theme a little different. New blogs start every day, but only a small percentage of these stick around for more than a year or two, and even fewer make money.
Design issues aren’t the only reason for this, but they play a part. Of all of the millions of websites out there, a good portion of them look near enough the same and those that don’t try too hard to be different and end up being almost impossible to read or giving people headaches.
Most people just starting out online are guilty of failing to realize the importance of web design. Your business website, whether your whole business is based online, or it compliments a real-world site, is crucial to your success and if you don’t have web design skills, it’s worth getting someone in to help.
People that don’t work in digital marketing tend to assume that it’s basically sharing things on social media and replying to a few emails. While it’s fair to say that most people can do a little digital marketing themselves, to really grow your business, this isn’t going to be enough. There’s a lot more to digital marketing than you might expect and even if you are good at it, it’s time-consuming, and often your time could be better spent on other areas of your business. Getting help from a digital marketing agency doesn’t just mean that you get a job done well, it can also save you time.
If you work as a sole trader or run a micro-business, you can probably manage your accounts in the early days. Filing a return isn’t hard when you don’t make much money, and when a lot of your income comes from the same places, a simple spreadsheet is all that you need to track it.
But that doesn’t mean that you are good at accounting. It’s great, and managing your own accounts will give you some experience and understanding, but as your business grows, your income streams become more varied, and your tax deductibles become more important, things can become much more complicated. If you are struggling, hiring an accountant can save you time and money and mean that you don’t risk paying a fine, doing things wrong or missing deadlines.
Social Media Management
Social media management is the same as digital marketing isn’t it? Apart from sharing content, it’s just playing on Facebook. Anyone can be good at that. Not quite. To grow your business and build loyal and trusting relationships with your followers, you need to be on multiple social media platforms. You need to post to them all daily, sharing not just your own content, but from other sources too. You need to reply to comments, answer questions, and offer your users advice and guidance. You need to promote them and use social media to provide added value. Even if you were just on leading platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, this could take hours of your day, and without doing it correctly and well, it could be time wasted. Many businesses, big and small, use social media schedulers or virtual assistants to help them to make the most of their social media accounts.
Customer service is something that most people think that they are great at, but in reality, a lot aren’t. Great customer service is essential if you want to grow your business and build a reputation. But, it’s about much more than just chatting with customers. To provide great service you need to give your customers when they want and need, even if they don’t know they need it. You need to get to know them and learn how to treat each person differently. You need to be willing to go the extra mile, and always happy to give each individual customer your time. You probably think that customer service isn’t as important online, but it is.
It’s typically not that entrepreneurs are bad at market research, but more that they fail to appreciate the importance of it. Without market research, you don’t know who your target audience is, and you are forced to waste time marketing to everyone.
It’s not enough to say “I think women age 25-35 want my product”. What if they don’t? Are you wasting time creating something that no one wants, or are you just trying to sell it to the wrong people? Quality market research saves you time, and ultimately money, and helps your business to grow quickly.
Managing people is one of those things that most people think that they can do better than others. We’ve all had bad managers, and we’ve all been 100% sure that we’d be better at it. But, when there are pressure and stress, the decisions are ours, and it’s us that’s got something to lose, our people management skills often go out of the window. Learning how to improve your people management is important if you ever want to employ staff, as to truly be successful, you need a great team working with you and to work well, they need to be inspired, motivated and happy.
Time Management and Organization
It’s easy to manage your time, when you don’t have much to do, or when you’ve got someone else telling you what to do. Even then, when left to our own devices, we can become distracted and procrastinate.
When you run your own business, it’s easy to find the organization and time management skills that you do have just aren’t enough. There’s too little time to do everything that you need to. You need to learn to work more productively, getting more done in less time.
You shouldn’t be starting a business if you don’t have passion for it. Without passion, you won’t commit the time and hard work needed to get your business off the ground. But that passion that we start with is often chipped away by hard work, upsets, and setbacks. Many small businesses fail because their owners just lose all enthusiasm when things don’t go their way. The best small business owners are those that are able to follow through. The kinds of people that stick with a project through thick and thin, instead of jumping from one thing to the next as soon as things get tough.
We go into our business with firm ideas of where we want to take it. This is great. But things rarely go your way, and doing the same thing over and over when they clearly aren’t working will never help. To do well, you need to adapt when things don’t work. You need to be open-minded and happy to try new ideas and take risks. Everyone thinks that they are adaptable. But are you?
Running a business is tough, and very few small business owners are good at every element of it. Most, hire staff to support them or take on freelancers when they need an expert in a particular area. To start with, you might have to do as much as you can for yourself, and it’s a steep learning curve. But, know that there’s plenty of help, advice, and guidance out there, and plenty of people that are keen to share their own stories and experiences. Often, a big part of turning your business into something significant is being able to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and not being too proud, or stubborn to ask for help when you do need it. You never know, one day, you might be great at all of it, but for now, get help, and you’ll go far.