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4 Smart ways to get your business off the ground

Like many of us, you probably don’t come from a rich family and more than likely you don’t have access to funding to get your business off the ground. With every venture I’ve founded I’ve bootstrapped the business. My philosophy is sell first and then build.

I don’t want to waste time trying to perfect my product (or service) before taking it to market. As a startup you need to be agile and flexible in your approach, and as you learn from the market you’ll soon realise that your business is going to go through several iterations and phases before finding the “perfect” market fit.

Based on living through these iterations and thanks to my experience as a startup, I’ve put together four of my best recommendations to get your business off the ground.

1.   Always be selling

I may come from a sales background, which has certainly aided me loads in launching my startups, however, sales is a skill that can be learned. Remember, sales isn’t that staid old way of doing business where we force non-willing and non-believing prospects to purchase our products or services. Sales has evolved and now we talk about building relationships, developing a level of trust, proving credibility, ensuring brand awareness and then only do we enter into the sales conversation. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, make sure that you are always selling your business. You are its best and foremost brand ambassador. Your passion will shine through and it will be because of your passion that you’ll be able to bring on board great clients, never mind recruit an amazing team.

2.   Don’t spend money on unnecessary things

Right now you don’t have the budget to hire staff, or to buy that awesome CRM software. Be frugal and very savvy about where and how you spend money. You cannot afford to use your limited cash flow right now to outsource marketing or such like. Don’t rent that fancy office space or buy a new Macbook. These things can wait. And trust me, the last thing you want is added stress at the end of the month wondering how you’re going to pay for everything when you haven’t signed up a new client for the month. Don’t do this to yourself! Let YouTube and Google become your best friends. Use tutorials to teach yourself great marketing skills, how to build your own website and basic SEO for now until you can afford to outsource it. Use tutorials to teach you how to use open source CRM systems and take advantage of free project management software for now.

3.   Get down in the trenches

Be prepared to get your hands dirty. The best way to really understand your business and the processes is for you to start out doing everything. Don’t be afraid to get stuck in and work all hours when starting out. This is great learning ground and it offers you the opportunity to understand the kind of support structure you require and size of your support team. People buy from people and your market will love your work ethic, because it will naturally flow through the team. We learn by example and if your team sees you putting shoulder to the wheel and really getting stuck in to make this business a success, they will follow suit.

4.   Be coachable

Soak up knowledge like your life depended on it. This is not an easy journey you’ve chosen for yourself and nobody is going to come rescue you if it’s not working out, or does not go according to plan, or a client has shirked their invoice responsibilities, or a team member has done the dirty on you. This is you, all you, for now. So you’ll need to toughen up, learn to roll with the punches and ensure that you are strong mentally, physically and emotionally, so that you can build a successful business.

Be prepared to learn, learn, learn. Whether you are teaching yourself new skills, or learning how your market thinks, or learning business the hard way (because again this journey is not an easy one), be coachable. Be open to listening to what other successful entrepreneurs have to say. Learn to listen to your staff, learn to listen to your intuition. The more coachable you are and the more you are willing to learn, the easier the information and knowledge will flow your way. You need your team and support structure to make a success of this, without a doubt, however, you also need you. You need to be willing to put in the hours and you need to be willing to be agile and change direction without batting an eyelid. In the name of building your business into a success, do this as if your life depended on it.

Bringing it together

Don’t think you know-it-all, because you don’t. Even highly successful people, the likes of Taylor Swift or Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx) will rather listen in a conversation than speak more. They will openly tell you that they don’t know everything and that they are willing to learn.

You’ve got this! You are your greatest resource setting out on this journey, so make sure that your resource is well-fed mentally, emotionally and physically.

About the Author : Karen has facilitated and hosted many sales masterclasses, workshops and training sessions to not only boost sales confidence however to also instill sales skills and tools that are personalised to each individual.

Karen is also a sought after speaker at Sales Conferences & Seminars, Secretarial Conferences & Symposiums and Entrepreneur Conferences & Workshops, where she engages her audience with story-like presentations of sales, outsourcing and business.

To learn more or to book Karen, email her on karen@karenwessels.com