I am the product of a small business family. My dad started his first business the year I was born and by the time I left high school, he was running his third business. Today, he’s on his fourth.
Being part of a small business family wasn’t always easy. There were good times, but there were also tough times. The hours were long and everyone had to contribute. Growing up, I started to notice the difference between our family and my friends’ families, where their parents had a regular, corporate job.
Today, I am nothing but grateful for what my dad has given me. In fact, I feel very lucky and privileged because I got to witness my dad doing what he loved. Like so many small business owners, he wouldn’t have been happy doing anything else.
I don’t think he ever specifically told me he loved his work, and I don’t remember ever discussing the trade-offs of starting a business. But what I did learn from him is that we should all do something that makes us happy. This is an incredible gift which has shaped key decisions in my life.
I also learned some great business fundamentals – lessons which I reflect on and share with others whenever I get the chance.
Here are 5 lessons that all entrepreneurs can start applying today:
1. Dream Big
Someone has to have a vision for your business and it should be you. Share your vision with your team, suppliers, customers… anyone who will listen. We all love a story and love to be a part of something bigger than the here and now – your vision adds to the intangible elements of what you deliver to your customers. They will value it.
2. Act Small
Understand the little details that make people love your business. This is the strength of start-ups and small businesses. It’s harder for a big business to compete on this level, so use them to your advantage.
It may be the fun way your team interacts with your customers, or the technology you use to shape your brand. Whatever it is, make sure it is done 100% of the time and done with an edge that makes you different.
3. Cash is King
Measure and track your cashflow, understand how cash flows in and out of your business, and prepare a forecast. There will be tough times, so being on top of your cashflow will let you steer your business proactively in both good and bad times.
Lots of business owners find forecasting difficult. If this is the case for you, don’t avoid it, just get help. Your bookkeeper or accountant can assist. Keep it simple but make sure it captures the main drivers of the cash cycle of your business.
4. Ask for Help
You’ll be doing so many things for the first time and there will be so much to learn. Don’t ever be nervous or shy to seek out help. Most people will say yes and if they don’t, they’ll generally make up a polite excuse. Whether it be help in search engine advertising, creating a presence on social media, questions about managing staff or any other topic, there are many experts who are willing to help you.
5. Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise
I once heard a small business owner say, “We’re lucky, we get to choose which 8 hours of the day we don’t work.” It really struck a chord with what I saw growing up and have seen in so many startups and small businesses since then.
The days are long and the commitment unquestionable, but there are still too many things that don’t get done. The only solution is to accept that you only have 24 hours in a day so make sure the important things get done.
Do you have a question for Tim about your business? Ask in the comments!