I posted two blogs about factors faced by all start ups and that can be used to help develop the business but can also hinder business development if not managed effectively.
Here I want to talk about personal factors that get in the way of your business developing.
1. Lack of confidence
Very few people developing a business won’t suffer from a crisis of confidence at some point; whether it’s about daily operations, fundamental strategy or personal presentation.
- Treat this as a tangible problem and create some actions you can take to address it.
- Your support network is a good place to start; find a mentor, someone you can meet with regularly to help in this area. Networking helps because it makes you realise you are not alone in feeling uncomfortable and challenged in the confidence arena.
- Find a role model and emulate them. Reading about Richard Branson’s confidence is infectious in his autobiography, Losing My Virginity.
When I started my business three years ago, I found myself in Cardiff with no business contacts or network; we’d relocated for my husband’s job and I decided to set up my own business. For a couple of months I worked for two days per week at my desk building a database of businesses and charities to contact with speculative letters and emails.
It was a lonely job!
I did have some lovely conversations with people and I even secured one brilliant client; it wasn’t a great conversion rate and I wouldn’t recommend that approach to anyone else! I learnt a lot though.
Working for oneself by oneself can be a lonely business.
- Learn to love social media. It’s a brilliant tool for emulating the camaraderie of colleagues. It’s a brilliant source of information, ideas and creativity.
- Gamify your networking. For many people networking is a problem in itself and the thought of it, be it face to face or virtual networking, fills them with terror. Make your networking into a game and create your own rewards. Even if it’s as simple as aiming to speak and swap contact details with two new people at each networking event you attend and then reward yourself.
3. Lack of money; both private and professional
Be realistic; do you lack money for your business? There’s no point in starting a business if you don’t have enough money for you and your family to live on. Whatever you do has to be sustainable. You may be in the fortunate position of having investment in your business enabling you to take a salary from day one. For most people that’s only a distant dream.
The general rule is that in the first year a business will make a loss. Not only will you not be earning money from your business, you will be paying money into your business for the pleasure of making a loss. In the second year you should start to break even. In the third year you should start to earn a decent income.
Of course there are exceptions. Magnificent entrepreneurs who take risks that most of us are in awe of. And the risks come off. However, if you are starting out and you have responsibilities take it seriously and plan for the long haul.
If you need money to live on, you will have to be creative in how you start up your business; full time might not be feasible from day one. It’s not always necessary to do all or nothing; if you need a steady income while you set up your business, start your business while you’re still working either part time or full time. It’s not an easy option but it’s more sustainable than giving up work, using up your savings, running out of money, getting into debt and then having to go back to work anyway!
4. Lack of affordable childcare
A survey by Save the Children and the Daycare Trust recently highlighted that families in the UK spend an average of 1/3 of their salary on childcare; more than anywhere else in the world. That really is staggering, shocking, and isn’t a surprise to any parent. The cost of childcare is a challenge for all working families in the UK.
I’ve known plenty of women who choose to continue working in professional jobs, just covering the childcare costs for the preschool years, but maintaining their skills and employability.
Personally I was given the impetus to set up my own business after having my third child and being unable to find a job to cover the childcare costs on a part time basis; I didn’t want to work full time on someone else’s terms.
There are creative solutions but usually the day to day experience of those solutions won’t be easy or tidy.
- Swap childcare hours with friends (a babysitting circle);
- Find a friend who wants to set up as a child-minder (someone I know who went back to college to train as a midwife was only able to do this as her friend decided to support her and set up as a child-minder);
- Use state funded playgroups (usually only for a couple of hours a day but better than nothing);
- Pay the childcare costs and see it as a long term investment; by the time the children are in school, the business will be up and running and you’ll have a good income on your terms.
There is one big upside to starting your own business; you can determine your own hours so make it work for you on your terms.
There are many considerations in starting a business and although you can’t plan the risk completely out of the equation, it’s important to think about the sustainability of your approach to your new business to give yourself the best conditions possible.