Running a small business can be incredibly rewarding, but it isn’t easy. Whether you’re just launching your business or debating whether to step out on your own, venturing into the unknown can be downright scary. Once you get started, you may realize that you had a lot of misconceptions about the whole process. To help you start out on the right foot, we’ve put together five secrets to running a successful small business. By following these tips from the start, you’ll have a lot more confidence down the road.
Your Time Is Not Your Own
Say goodbye to the 9-to-5 world—at least for a while. Many people starting their own business love the idea of making their own hours and taking breaks whenever they want. But that isn’t really how it works. In fact, starting a new business is more like raising a newborn. You’re on call 24–7 and your time isn’t your own. You may need to take emergency meetings late at night or work until 3 a.m. and get up at 6 a.m. Your friends may think that “being your own boss” means you can take time off whenever you want. You’ll need to educate them on what it’s really like to run a business.
But remember, no matter how busy you get, you do need to take time for yourself. Give yourself opportunities to truly unplug and just have fun. Taking a break can boost your creativity and your energy and help you stay sharp.
You’ll Suffer From Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome refers to an inner fear that you’ll someday be exposed as a fraud or that you don’t really deserve the success you’ve achieved. When you’re starting a business, you may feel as though you’re faking your expertise and worry that someone will realize that you have no idea what you’re doing. Interestingly, this syndrome is most common among high-achieving, intelligent people, which is likely why entrepreneurs often suffer from it.
How do you overcome impostor syndrome? First, realize that these feelings do not reflect reality. Next, write down your accomplishments. Every time someone says something positive about you, save the compliment in a folder. Later, if you begin to doubt yourself, read through these compliments. Learn to let feelings of inadequacy motivate you to be more ambitious, rather than paralyze you.
Tackle the Hardest Tasks First
Every day, put together a detailed to-do list containing everything you need to accomplish that day. Then take on the tasks that seem the hardest first. You’ll find that you’re more productive if you tackle the toughest, most-dreaded tasks before anything else. Doing the tough tasks first sets you up for success. You’ll feel accomplished (and relieved) to have those dreaded tasks out of the way, leaving you refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.
Stay in Your Wheelhouse
Don’t try to be somebody you’re not. Your business will be more successful if you focus on your strengths rather than constantly fighting against your weaknesses. A personality test can help you hone in on your best skills. For example, people with a “creator” personality type are great at coming up with new ideas, motivating people and speaking in public. But they may have a tough time with details and wrapping up a project. These business owners are best served by a partner who is detail oriented. If you can bring on a partner or assistant who complements your personality (rather than duplicates it), you may find that your business will grow much faster.
Define Your Mission and Vision
Before you start your business, define your mission and vision. Forbes suggests taking time to articulate exactly what you want your business to accomplish. It’s easy to get distracted and want to pursue every idea. By defining your mission and goals, you can run new ideas through a filter to see if they truly fit your business.
On the flip side, you should also be ready to diversify. Try not to depend solely on one stream of income, one target audience, one marketing tool or one product. Diversifying helps increase your business’s financial security because, if one idea fails, you have others to fall back on.
The secret to running a small business is to truly understand both yourself and your company. Understand your weaknesses, your personality type and your fears. Don’t let emergencies and fears dictate your future. Craft a clear mission statement, identify your end goals and start working toward them.
Do you have a secret to success that’s worked for your company? Let us know on Twitter.