The past few years have seen a dramatic shift embracing the ‘streaming economy’, start-ups and all types of new businesses. There has never been a better, or more competitive, time to be an entrepreneur. We speak to Jason Kupritz about what it takes to run your own business.
I have been running my own business for many years and I have seen the ups and downs of the economy, especially in our specific industry, as well as the impact of unexpected circumstances such as Covid-19. I’d like to think I’ve learned a few lessons along the way, so if you’re considering setting off on your own, below are some key points to consider.
- Do your homework
Before you even dream of starting your own business, sit down and do some proper research. You want to be as prepared as possible to avoid getting derailed within the first few months. Consider the following:
- Who is your direct competition and what makes them successful?
- What will you offer customers that will make you stand out from the crowd?
- What are the current trends in your industry? Are you up to speed?
- Do you need to set up a type of facility?
- Do you have the necessary insurance?
- Do you have the right equipment? Laptop / printer / Wi-Fi etc?
The above are just a few examples, but the most crucial point is to know your competition and to know how you will set yourself apart. You need to give clients a reason to come to you, whether you are offering additional value, better pricing, or better service.
- Slush Fund
Setting money aside these days is no easy task, but if you’re going to tackle your own business, you need save and invest wisely. You never know when stock may be on offer at an excellent price, so having a slush fund is vital.
The catch with starting a new business or enterprise is that you can’t budget for unforeseen circumstances (because they’re unforeseen….), you need to have sufficient cashflow and start-up capital because, trust me, you’ll need it.
- Choose your suppliers wisely
Remember that you are building your business reputation even before you officially open the ‘doors’. If you align yourself with specific suppliers, and your concept is great, they will play a role in your business reputation because the quality of their goods or services will affect the quality of the service that you are able to deliver.
No customer wants to hear “but the fault was actually with…” – they have paid you for a specific service or item and you gave them certain expectations. If you don’t live up to your expectations, your customers won’t come back – even if the fault wasn’t with you. It is therefore critical that you make sure all your partners / suppliers are up to the task and will be able to deliver according to the standards you set for your business.
Don’t feel bad if you need to change suppliers due to poor service: remember that it’s your business reputation on the line.
- Best service wins
Whether you’re starting a tattoo shop or a car dealership, remember that customer service will be what sets you apart. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that good customer service simply means being friendly. If you’re going to do it, then do it properly:
- Be able to answer all customer questions. If you don’t have all the answers immediately, get back to them as soon as you can. These days ‘soon’ means within an hour or less.
- Find out what each customer expects and see if you can meet their expectations.
- If you can’t meet certain expectations (they may be unrealistic), rather be honest with the customer and explain why. Most people are surprisingly reasonable, but you must communicate constantly and clearly.
Your exact customer service requirements will depend on the type of business you’re starting. While I’m a loud advocate for customer service excellence, I don’t want to give new business owners the impression that they should go to extremes: just be rational, understanding, and flexible within reason. This way you will build long-lasting client relationships.
- Good staff are gold
While it’s true that nobody is irreplaceable when it comes to business, you will quickly learn that good staff will help your new business soar. From answering the telephone to fixing complicated machines: find people who excel at what they do and treat them well. I cannot stress this point enough. You want staff that you can rely on. If you find yourself with an outlandishly high staff turnover, you need to look at yourself and ask why? What culture are you building? Are you present enough in your own business? Are you paying your staff enough? If you want greatness, you must be willing to pay for it.
It might be that some people just aren’t the right fit. If that’s the case, you must be prepared to make changes swiftly.
Lastly, I’d like to remind all the brave entrepreneurs out there that it will not be easy, but it will be incredibly rewarding. You must be willing to make mistakes, learn from them, and keep improving. Being your own boss means taking responsibility for everything that happens within your business and if you tackle it with the right attitude, enough research and endless patience, you have a very good chance at success.