“You Can Have A Successful Small Business“
Just think about that statement for a moment.
I often wonder how many people are deterred from starting up a side venture or lack the confidence to move forward with a change of career because of what they read online. Hundreds, thousands, millions…….who knows!
In recent times, not only would it would seem that the internet has become obsessed with the idea that a business model is no longer pliable and is now a one size fits all rigid sculpture but also that we have to think big and collect a momentous amount of social media followers along the way in order to succeed.
A few years ago, after been unfairly dismissed by my former employer after 10 years of service, I decided that I no longer wanted to dedicate my time and skills into a business if it were not my own. If I was going to be committed and work hard then the only people that were going to benefit from the rewards would be my own family and not someone else’s, who in my opinion, had proven themselves to be pretty undeserving.
Since deciding that self employment was the way forward, I looked into various ways to generate income. Like many others, I took to the internet for research and it soon became extremely obvious to me that a lot of the information was geared towards niche areas, growing a huge social media presence and the underlying message that the only way that we achieve success is to think big.
I found it pretty overwhelming. The idea that you have to be an expert in your chosen ‘niche’ and be prepared to put yourself out there for the world to see on every social media platform going in order to succeed, I felt was enough to put anyone off including myself!
After previously setting up and running a successful holiday accommodation business with my partner, I decided that I wanted to use my past experiences to try and help motivate others to move forward, I rekindled my love of all things literature and began looking into setting up my own blogging website.
I’m no expert in any particular area and although I like a good natter, the thought of having to appear on social media personally in order to get a small toe in the big business pond didn’t really float my boat and I found my enthusiasm for my new venture began to diminish a little before I even started.
Not to be deterred, my 40 something self thought that perhaps my old skool way of thinking was somewhat outdated and nowadays you had to move with the times to grow your business in other ways.
I spent months running myself ragged trying to think of ‘fresh’ content to put infront of my trusted phone and selfie stick to keep up with the recommended 3-5 posts each day across various social media channels.
In the midst of this, I set up my own brand new website which looking back was a miracle for 2 main reasons, firstly I couldn’t tell you now how I found the time to do it and secondly I’m probably about as technical as your great Aunt Freda!
I became obsessed with trying to fit all that I wanted to say into one niche area, I researched SEO until every google article that appeared on my search turned purple and in order to generate income, I looked into every side hustle going and even found the time to try some of them out before realising that I shouldn’t have bothered because my precious little amount of time could be better spent elsewhere.
After a while, I came to the end of the line. I had been in the 200 view jail of Tik Tok since I started, much as I tried I didn’t seem to slot into any particular niche and I was bored silly of the relentless pressure of creating video content for social media.
After taking a step back, I realised 2 very important facts that changed my way of thinking:
- Just because its right for others, it doesn’t mean its right for you.
- You can have a successful small business
With my new found train of thought, I realised that in the beginning my entire ethos was to diminish the round peg for the round hole yet somewhere along the way I began to conform to the norm in order to fit in. I began to loose my spikey edge and with it my enthusiasm because I had not been true to myself.
Secondly, I never set out with the idea of becoming an influencer, creator or mogul of any kind but to give them credit, due to the influence of others on social media, I felt that it was no longer acceptable to be happy with your own corner of the internet no matter how small.
I see post after post on various platforms with people looking to set up their own small part of the world wide web only to be jumped upon by others advising them to go big or go home.
With this in mind, based on my own experience, here are just a few of the things that I have learned so far
- Focus on your strengths, you don’t have to be an expert. If you have a hobby or interest that you would like to turn into a new venture, as long as you do not require formal qualifications to practice and you have a good understanding of the product or service that you would like to offer, your already good enough to get off the starting blocks. In business we naturally learn and develop our skills over time which increases our knowledge and encourages growth both personally and professionally.
- Don’t be afraid to be your own niche! Rather than fitting in, stand out. Look at it this way, instead of trying to fit into a ready made niche like everyone else, by creating your own unique niche you are setting yourself apart from the rest right from the start.
- Perfection doesn’t exist, don’t use it as an excuse to delay your new venture and prevent you from moving forward. When you are happy with your product or service don’t spend too much time trying to polish it. Have confidence in yourself and put it out there for others to benefit from. The best way to build your customer base is by getting feedback, not only will this save you wasting time trying to perfect in theory rather than real time, it’s also a great way to get to know your audience and establish a better understanding of ways to meet their needs.
- Do your research and come up with a viable business plan. If it isn’t manageable then it wont be achievable either. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the foundations that you lay for your business in the beginning will determine how solid it becomes over time.
- Be consistent, slow and steady wins the race.Starting any form of business is hard work in the beginning and can be a little unrewarding but as long as your prepared to show up every day your persistence will pay off in the end. It takes time but be patient and you will see results.
- Forget the hares in the race, its OK to be a tortoise. Whilst it may work for others to throw themselves in at the deep end and charge ahead with website development and marketing strategies, it may not work for you. Concentrate on one step at a time and do each step well rather than charging ahead just to keep up with everyone else.
- Focus on quality rather than quantity. By trying to diversify your business in too many areas too soon can water down your true potential. For example, if you would like to sell handmade products then start with just one or two outlets to begin with and go from there. It is very easy to get swept along with the idea that the more bases you cover the higher the chance of success. Any platform that you choose to host your business requires dedication and commitment, its much better to give 100% of your time and focus in one area than only 10% over several.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, a person with no mistakes is a person who has never tried. Think of them more as learning curves and use them to drive you forward, not set you back.
Finally and most importantly, never measure your own success against that of others.
For some just having the courage to consider a new venture can be a huge step forward, while for others the sky is the limit.
Each of us are imperfectly perfect in our own unique way, never loose sight of that and always stay true to yourself.
Although we must be prepared to change and adapt, at the same time it is important that we don’t loose sight of our priorities and goals.
These can look very different for each of us but try to remember that after all, when it comes to any aspect of life, success is very much in the eye of the beholder!
To check out my earlier business blogs, please head over to the Relatable Business Solutions section of the website here.