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9 tips for starting a business in an unfamiliar sector

9 tips for starting a business in an unfamiliar sector

How to ensure that your new company is thriving, not surviving, from day one

1. Understand your “why”

Understanding why you want to start your own business is essential! Your brain starts firing in directions it hasn’t before as a whole new world opens up. Being your own boss and setting your own standards is exciting, but as the reality of ensuring the business is profitable sets in, it is important to remind yourself why you started in the first place. Reminding yourself of your mission and your overall “why” will help you stay strong in the face of adversity. It is okay if your “why” changes over time too, but make sure you don’t lose sight of or forget about it, as it’ll be your friend when you’re lacking that ‘spark’ or motivation.

2. Be prepared for change

If you’re moving from a full-time job or a job with set hours, be prepared for a change in your schedule and routine. Your business is your own, so you won’t want to let any area fall short. I’d recommend being savvy when planning your time to ensure you don’t burn out. Try and schedule in parts of your job as a business owner that you love – for me, it’s teaching F45 workouts. This was non-negotiable for me, and I never gave up the elements I enjoyed to ensure I was having fun whilst working hard. Unless you start off with a full set of staff or business partners, you will be expected to carry a lot of weight yourself. You will be the social media manager one day and the sales rep on another. This is part of the job and it will most likely be a change from your previous lifestyle.

3. Get qualified

If you are moving into an industry where a qualification is required – for me was a personal training/fitness instructor qualification – get this underway and ideally finished before you enter the full launch stage of your business. Getting my qualification before I started was one of the best decisions I made, as it meant I could teach as well as run the back of house. This also gave me a first-hand understanding of what was required of the staff I hired, as I had the same qualifications as them. If you are entering an industry where you need qualifications that may take years then this might not be possible right away. But if there are smaller qualifications you could get prior to launch – in social media management or accounting, for example – do it! It will arm you with knowledge and make you more equipped in your new industry.

4. Start networking

Having a network of other business owners cannot be valued highly enough! If you are not too well connected yet, immerse yourself in your industry by researching similar and competitor businesses. Attend relevant events in your industry, and try some of the other similar services being offered to see for yourself what others are offering. If some businesses are not direct competitors but complementary businesses you can work with, get yourself an introduction with them, and understand that there is a level of respect owed to older businesses. If you are coming in as the new kid on the block, see how you can help them with what you are offering. Online business networks are great, but a business relationship flourishes with a personal connection! I am a member of BNI UK that has connected me with multiple complementary businesses that I use daily to help both me and my clients.

5. Be accountable

The buck stops with you. Mistakes will inevitably happen and when they do, understand why they have occurred and learn from them. Write yourself task lists so that you can be accountable to yourself. If you have an investor or someone close to you, ask them to be your accountability buddy and book in a slot with them once a month to bounce ideas off. If you have staff, ensure they are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities so you can keep them accountable. If something goes wrong that is outside their remit, know that you need to step up and take responsibility for that. Be accountable for your time and energy expenditure. If you’re feeling depleted, ensure you are giving yourself a day off sometimes, and know that you are not an endless tank of energy. Being a good leader requires you to be well-rested and energised.

6. Identify your unique sales position

Most businesses are new ideas, so there will be others in the industry offering the same as you are. But remember, no one is exactly like you, and you will have the opportunity to put your stamp on your business. Brainstorm and find out what you will be doing differently from your competitors. It can be something simple but make sure your clients get to experience what makes your business unique.

7. Don’t scrimp on services

You will need some services to help you run your business. If it is IT systems, software and even marketing and social media, don’t scrimp on these and cut corners to save small amounts of cash! Good systems are the nuts and bolts of your business and will ultimately reflect your services. Find service providers that will support you and your vision and if there is a platform that is too clunky and takes too much of your time, change it! Ask around to see what is working for other businesses, and have introduction meetings with your providers to ensure you can work well with them before signing contracts.

8. Be ready to do the dirty work

You need to be ready to do everything that is required to make your business run. Or pay for it to be done but let’s face it, in the beginning at least, the luxury of spending money left, right and centre is not often an option. You may be on the emails, the calls, the meetings with the CEOs all in the same day to later scrubbing floors and cleaning bathroom facilities. It’s all part of your journey. Be humble, and proud of all the work you do.

9. Be customer-obsessed

I can’t stress enough the importance of being customer-obsessed. Whilst customers are not always right, you do need to try and empathise with them as much as possible, and help if you can. It’s important to have structured boundaries and not to take abuse. But also know that your customers have chosen you out of the competition, so do all you can to make them sure of their choice.

The author
Annie Edmunds left the world of finance to open F45 Maida Vale and has never looked back. She now has a network of dedicated clients and is preparing to open her second studio.

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