I started my business five years ago with a passion for sharing my journalism knowledge with businesses who could use some publicity in the media. It’s a familiar story I often hear from business owners around the country – they go into business because they love what they do, only to discover they don’t know anything about running a successful business.
Owning a business is the biggest and best self development course I’ve ever done. Nothing quite prepares you for the roller coaster ride of fantastic successes, and disappointing lows. If there were five things I wish I knew in the early days that I now know it would be:
1. Find the right staff
It’s one thing to find someone with the right skills, but entirely a different thing to find someone who is the right kind of person for your organisation. I was quick to hire an assistant early on because I was drowning in work. After about 12 months things turned sour and I was left with some major headaches including dismissing her, catching up with errors she had made and finding someone new.
The more time you spend on securing the best person, the bigger the rewards down the track. Your staff should take action to completion, think for themselves, be loyal and willing to take 100 per cent responsibility for the job. A single ‘problem generator’ (i.e someone who brings you problems, rather than solving them for you) can cost you a significant amount of time and money over the long term.
2. Communicate even if it hurts
Be willing to have those difficult conversations with staff, suppliers and clients. Rather than tip-toeing around an issue or person, investigate, prod and ask questions. As much as possible communicate face-to-face so you can really see how your message is received.
3. Accept that facing challenges is part of running a business
Running a business is not usually always smooth sailing. One minute you’re feeling like you’re ready to take on the world, the next you could be questioning everything. See challenges as an opportunity for development rather than something to run from. I have found that every time I move through a fear, my turnover increases.
4. Find someone who has a bigger vision for you than you have for yourself
It’s easy to get too close to your business and not be able to easily see the potential. I prefer to work with specialist in a particular area rather than a general business coach.
5. Be nimble
The business landscape is constantly changing thanks to rapid changes in technology and consumer behaviour. Stay in touch with what’s happening in your industry and be ready to adapt.
Sue Papadoulis is founder of PR industry disruptor Publicity for Profit, teaching businesses how to do their own PR and become an expert in the media. For more information visit call 1300 123 110.