Monday, 19 September 2016

The 5 key things I've learned about my startup this year

It has been quite a journey for anyone that has followed my blog from the beginning. You might remember that I stared looking to open a tradition estate agency in my local town in England when all of this began. Things have changed a lot and I have made different plans along the way. That is how it works for many startups and the way that a business forms can change quite dramatically as time goes by.

My plans for an estate agency slowed and then stopped by the local market, the way that I tried other things to bring in an income and by the rise of the online-only estate agent. It is strange how things work out. I started writing my blogs and my books to generate an income that would help me in the early days of my estate agency but it never worked out that way.

I now write for a living - some things for myself and some things for other people. I now have a ghostwriting business and a content writing business.

Here are the five things that I have learned about my startup business this year-

5 - Keep all your accounts up to date
This wasn't like me at all. I just started putting receipts away in a folder as time went by and eventually I had this big pile that I needed to sort out. Add to this all the online receipts and invoices and I didn't know where to start. What should have been a few minutes a week at mist keeping on top of everything ended up being a bit of a mess with money going into different accounts (bank account, PayPal account, business bank account) then took my wife and I hours to get back under control. I advise all of you to set up an accounting system and set aside some regular time to keep it in check.

4 - Look for free resources
I started the writing business with an idea in my head and not much else. I wanted to write for myself and for others but I just didn't know how to make a business of it,. There are free resources if you know how to look in the right places. In the early days I used-
  • Citizens Advice Bureau to ask questions about setting up the business
  • Tax Assist to give me advice on my basic early accounts
  • Many online resources to gain inspiration for my business and explore new ideas
  • The Answer Bank to fire off some questions and hope for helpful answers
Just look and you will find.If you are unsure then a Google search will usually find you the right resources to investigate.

3 - Think about how you will fund your business
For the core of my business I have been fortunate. I haven't needed a great deal of money to be able to sit here and type away in exchange for cash. But for many companies the cash to start the business and to live on is something that is a big headache. There are different ways of raising finance and you can consider-

  • Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter
  • Borrowing from your bank
  • Borrowing from friends and family
  • Using your savings
I have looked at writing a novel and I would need to get some funding for the research and development of the novel plus some money to live on while I was writing it. Kickstarter was something that I tried to raise money through and I will return to it again in the future.

2 - Join a networking group
I started writing for online freelance websites and although they were a great place to start I wanted to move on to working with people locally. This meant building local connections where I didn't really have any. The local BNI was a great place to join and meet local businesses that might need my services or know of someone that does.

I highly recommend BNI as a way to make local connections and move your business forward. It has been a great start for me as I strive to meet local people and get my work known in my region. Check out a BNI group near you and see what it might be able to do for your business.

1 - Don't be afraid to adapt
I started out with the idea of becoming an estate agent and here I am as a writer. That is adaptability if ever I saw it! Don't ever close your eyes to the other possibilities that are out there. I started writing so I had something that would provide me with a supplementary income when I was working in my own estate agents. It has grown from there to the point where I have 10 books published in may name, many others in the name of my clients and I write other content such as blogs and websites for people.

If I had just been blinkered to look only at estate agency then I would not have seen this opportunity. Keep your eyes open for other opportunities and keep your wits about you. You never know what might be around the next corner.

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