6 months in business - Reflecting on lessons learnt

It’s been six months since I started On Format so I am taking time to pause and reflect on this mini-milestone.

If you’re considering starting a business, here’s a few tips I have learnt along the way:

LOWER YOUR EXPENDITURE – WISELY!

When starting out, you’re likely to have some big outgoings and unpredictable income. I assessed where I could cut back and mostly, this was easy. I really didn’t need any more shoes and I don’t miss buying ‘stuff’.

TIP: Don’t cut costs with insurance! Within two weeks of lowering my car insurance coverage, I was involved in a five-car pile-up on the motorway. Luckily the driver at fault had insurance so everything was covered but this was scary reminder that it pays to have full coverage! On the plus side, I now have a shiny new bumper : )

NETWORKING CAN BE FUN

The word ‘networking’ seemed so scary! But surprisingly, I have learnt I love networking. I was kindly invited to various events at the beginning of my journey. Saying yes to these opportunities was extremely daunting but putting myself out of my comfort zone was really rewarding. It has been hugely beneficial for me to practice presenting to groups about who I am and what I do – knowing what you do for a living is one thing but knowing how to succinctly vocalise it is a whole other thing!

Through networking I have also gained new clients and met like-minded business owners.

TIP: Say yes to networking opportunities, even if it scares you.

EXPLORE FURTHER EDUCATION

I love learning stuff! When you’re starting out you need to wear so many hats; Finance, Marketing, Sales….It can be tempting to try and upskill yourself in everything. Use your time and budget wisely and focus on courses that will add the most value to your offering.

TIP: Invest wisely in the courses that will give you the most return on investment and keep an eye out for free courses.

RESEARCH AND INVEST IN TECHNOLOGY

There are so many amazing systems to help you run your business more effectively. All the business owners I talked to recommended I get Xero. It’s not the cheapest accounting software option but I have found it so user-friendly. I engaged the help of an awesome bookkeeper to set up my Xero software and walk me through the basics. Her help was invaluable in enabling me to manage my day-to-day bookkeeping.

TIP: Get your systems right, it can save you so much time and money.

LIVE LIFE OFF-PEAK

Being self-employed has allowed me to live a much more flexible life. There is no sitting in traffic for hours each day commuting to an office. There is no being tied to a desk five days a week. I can schedule meetings, appointments, classes etc when I know that they are going to be least busy. The extra hours I have gained can now be put towards volunteering, visiting friends and spending time with family. I’m sometimes working nights or weekends but having the freedom to choose how I meet my work commitments has been the most rewarding part of this journey.

TIP: Make the most of your flexible working hours.

INCLUDE WELLBEING ON THE ‘TO DO’ LIST

I love yoga! A goal for me is to make it to yoga 2-3 times a week minimum and I have often failed at this. Working in your own business can be all-consuming. I soon realise I’ve overdone it when I’m achy from being at my desk too long and my vision is blurred from staring at screens for hours. I’m much more effective in my work if I’ve been taking time out to rejuvenate.

TIP: Schedule in YOU time. Put it in your calendar and make it a priority.

How have the last 6 months been for you? Take time to reflect and congratulate yourself for what you have achieved. There have been highs and lows of course but when I look back I feel overwhelming gratitude for the life I’m living.

Last piece of advice if you are thinking about starting a business…

Feel the fear and do it anyway