By DigiEnable Co-Founder, Liz Hardwick
Do you ever hear the cries of oh, I wish someone had told me that earlier?
That was me when I first started my digital training and traffic building services company, DigiEnable. I was monumentally dropped in the deep end by being made instantly redundant by liquidation, and even though I’d been freelancing for a few years part time, I seemed to keep learning things that no one else would talk about.
So, you badass beauties, I wanted to take this fabulous opportunity to share my top 5 things everyone should know before starting a company. These aren’t from some text book, they’re real world experiences, so you don’t have to learn the hard way like I did.
1 | Work smarter, not harder.
You start a business to work on your own terms, in your own way. That means you’re likely to be much more committed to your company than any other. It is easy to work 14 hour days and feel like because it’s your own business, passion, and future, that being busy is worth it now. Well, yes, but don’t misunderstand that word “busy.”
If you want to make it past the first year of trading without burning out, you might want to borrow my business motto: work smarter, not harder. You don’t want to look too busy because your clients or customers might think you don’t have the time for them. You want to focus on that balance of “effortlessly busy” and “super productive.”
Two things that help me achieve this are:
Scheduling everything! Schedule your personal appointments and time with family and friends just like you do your work. Make sure the people you’re close to, know that even though your business is important to you, they still are too. Look at it this way, if your business is ever on hard times, who’s going to be around to support you?
Try out different productivity processes and pick what works for you. I use a combination of my Calendar to schedule, Multiple Task Lists for personal and work to-dos, the Pomodoro Technique for getting tasks done, and Evernote for taking notes in meetings. Everything is digital and on all my devices which helps me be super productive and means I always have the right bits of information at my fingertips.
2 | Invest time in you.
Schedule time for what makes you, you. Such as family time, health and spiritual time, or time doing hobbies you love. Don’t be afraid to take some time out during your work day for these either!
Schedule regular time in your business, to work on your business. Make sure you invest in good CPD (Continued Professional Development), learn the business skills, and figure out new skills you want to learn to improve what you do.
Don’t forget to invest for your future too; make sure you are paying into a pension, savings, and tax pot.
3 | Know your finances and bottom line.
I know that, for some of us, money can be the hardest conversation, but it’s vital to your survival.
Make sure you know your personal survival budget, and how much you have to earn each month to break even, after all your bills, staff and tax payments (what’s left is your bottom line). In your first year, you’ll have to pay your full year’s tax bill, and 6 months of tax ahead, on account, too. I wish I’d know that beforehand!
There’s lots of jargon in business and it’s worth swatting up. Do you know your profits from your turnover or the difference between Capital Allowances and Taxable Expenses?
4 | Know when to buy in services.
If you don’t understand the business jargon, consider buying in services. The earlier you decided what you can’t or don’t want to do in your business, the smaller that messy supermarket bag of receipts is. I now have an amazing bookkeeper that keeps them all organized.
You might want to bring in legal services to help with your contractor agreements and terms and conditions (you’ve got those on the list right?), or maybe you need someone to help you with all the administration.
Investing in someone else’s time, so you can go do the thing you love, is truly a badass investment!
5 | Be nice!
It’s as simple as that.
You have to realize not everyone is going to like you, but be nice anyway. For everyone else, share your love, knowledge, and kindness as far and wide as you can, for you never know when you might need someone’s help in return.
Liz Hardwick is Co-Founder of DigiEnable: a company dedicated to helping businesses grow by offering high quality training and services in order to create customer focused content which converts.
She’s a self-confessed geek, guest blogger, and regularly speaks on Digital Technology and Women in Technology at conferences across the UK. Liz has a great deal of technology experience, including building and running a large radio station. Her clients range from small local charities to large multi-national companies.
In her spare time she loves meditation, yoga, eating yummy food, being outdoors, and attending geeky events.