Hi guys…. I wanted to share my story on how I started my business. You can find a lot of youtube videos explaining how to start a business….I have to say that’s not how I started my first business which isn’t an online business. I do leadership development and I’ve been a Facilitator for the past 26 years. I started off in the banking system where I was in the HR department and I was a part of the training team, so we did all the training for the bank staff in bank processes. Then the bank expanded its training arm to companies outside of the bank, so I started designing and delivering different programs to these external clients. Some of the areas I facilitated were: – strategic planning, customer service, business planning, time management and more.
So I didn’t get into business the usual way. I resigned from the bank and met the sister of a friend, who was involved in her own business that was linked or licensed by a company in the US. She met with me and I loved the process and I did a program myself and that was it. I became her associate then after attending a conference in California, I loved all that I heard so much that when I returned to Trinidad, I left her, bought my own License to the business and opened my own office.
After setting up my office, some of the clients I worked with followed me and I continued to grow slowly. I made my husband do the program and he also fell in love with the process and the program because we saw how it changed peoples’ lives and he too left the company he was working for at the time, to join me. His boss asked him if he was sure he wanted to go into business with his wife and he said yes because we balance one another so it would definitely work… and thirteen years later, it did. My husband is a beast when it comes to selling a product or service. I was OK, not as great as him but good enough. He is amazing at it. So with his selling ability, my great administrative skills and with both of our amazing facilitation abilities, our business has done well to date. At least we continue to do well enough to take care of our bills and four children.
So starting a business was different for me. While working at the Bank I always felt that something was missing, that I wasn’t working at my greatest capacity. I knew I could do more, and having my own business was the key. It allowed me to drive my business in the direction I wanted, it allowed me to use my creativity and abilities, it built my confidence and it greatest of all I was playing my part in contributing to the family finances and I was around for my kids. I could schedule my appointments around what was happening with the kids and that was major, no more 9 to 5.
With running a business there are areas that will pull a lot from you. It’s yours so you have to put in more energy into it to ensure it runs properly and efficiently. Which we did. You have to sacrifice time until the business has built its credibility to your clients, then your time is yours to schedule as you see fit. You also need to organize your pensions and financial retirement funds yourself, as you don’t have a company doing this for you. This we also did and we can organize it to ensure we have the quantity we think is important when we retire. The difficult side of a business is the difficult decisions you sometimes have to make due to low funds in difficult times. I’ve had to let go of my assistant and do everything myself….no we had two assistants, but we kept my husband’s. He can’t function without her and I can’t give him the type of attention she does. You are constantly watching and monitoring your finances to ensure you can make it through the month…that’s his job…thank God because it can be stressful when you have to follow up with clients to make their payments, or you have to ensure you have your tax payments g=for the year and oh so many more decisions, but I wouldn’t change my decision to open my own business. The freedom is amazing and you feel very empowered. Plus the way companies are going based on our economy, corporate life can be very difficult if you don’t have a strong constitution.
So what do you need to start your business?
- Guts – you need to be courageous enough to take risks, despite what others will say to you. I go a lot of negative comments even from my husband, but I was determined to do it in spite of all the cons listed out to me. That takes us to the second area…
- Determination – you will need this to fight off all the negative comments from family, friends, peers even kids. Ignore it and think about this next point…
- The Plan/Refine your idea. – what is the plan because you must have one. If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell, or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. I knew that I needed to know more about this business and so I went out and learned by becoming an associate. So I was still getting paid and learning the business at the same time. This always reminds me of a guy I knew who worked for a furniture store. He was the manager. He learned everything, from how to place orders, who were the vendors, the whole shebang. Then he resigned and opened his own store and factor where he realized instead of importing the furniture it was easier to get artisans here to make similar pieces at a lower cost…..
- Know what you’re Selling. Write a Business Plan – are you selling something you’re great at, something you love and are good at, something you have great connections for? What and why doe you want to sell this item or service and how much do you know about it and will you gain customers…Once you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan. A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? If you can’t find evidence that there’s a demand for your idea, then what would be the point?
- Assess your finances – Starting any business has a price, so you need to determine how you’re going to cover those costs. Do you have the means to fund your startup, or will you need to borrow money? If you’re planning to leave your current job to focus on your business, do you have money put away to support yourself until you start making a profit?
- Register your business – Sole trader, Limited liability, unlimited liability, investigate the pros and cons of each.
- How do you plan to gain your customers? In my business I listed everyone I knew and would approach and they referred me to others and that is how I got my first clients.
- Brand yourself and advertise.
- Before you start selling your product or service, you need to build up your brand and get a following of people ready to jump when you open your literal or figurative doors for business.
- Create a logo that can help people easily identify your brand, and be consistent in using it across all of your platforms, including your all-important company website. Use social media to spread the word about your new business, perhaps as a promotional tool to offer coupons and discounts to followers once you launch. Be sure to also keep these digital assets up to date with relevant, interesting content about your business and industry.
- Grow your business – Your launch and first sales are only the beginning of your task as an entrepreneur. In order to make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. It’s going to take time and effort, but you’ll get out of your business what you put into it.
Running a business has been fun for me and also a lot of work but fulfilling work because it’s all mine. If you decide to start your own business, check the pros and the cons and see which works best for you and GO FOR IT!! Check you soon.