Our experts are on hand to answer all your queries about setting up on your own. Christopher Allen, a Start-Up Adviser at FSB Legal, tackles the latest reader questions.
Starting a business can be daunting, especially if you haven’t done it before. Many new business owners will seek advice or information from the internet, books or online courses.
This can be useful in the short term, but may not be a long-term solution. Before I make a business decision, I would run it past my fellow business advisors. However, not everyone will have a strong business network, so this is where a mentor can add value.
By conducting a simple internet search, you should be able to locate mentoring services within your area. Using a mentor doesn’t mean that you cannot run a business or that you don’t have the business expertise; it simply means you may require structure and advice. Successful business owners such as Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates have mentors – so you could certainly benefit from one.
A good mentor will be able to inspire and motivate you, provide guidance and structure, help generate new ideas and strategies, act as a sounding board, and assist with business and contingency planning. They will allow you to reflect on existing practices and behaviours, help you expand your network and build new relationships, aid you in developing personal leadership, and provide you with the confidence to make better decisions.
Adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude; clients can read your passion
Review competitors and keep up to date with trends, products and current affairs in your sector
Presentation includes your office and social media
Respond to calls, emails and requests from clients promptly
Use a professional voicemail and an out of office message if you are unavailable
A healthy work-life balance will bring out your best
Attend community and local events – it can assist with promoting your business and present it in a positive light
Avoid attending meetings with clients in casual clothes
Avoid religion or politics on social media
Avoid uploading offensive images or leaving negative or derogatory comments online
Don’t make promises or appointments you cannot keep
Don’t leave clients/customers in the dark. If you cannot fulfil a promise, inform them and agree other arrangements
Don’t mix business accounts and personal accounts
Don’t prejudge a prospective client on appearance – you don’t know their financial position or company role
One of the hardest challenges is increasing customer engagement and directing people to your shop front or online platforms. The following can help:
Write articles and blogs
Run regular competitions, giveaways and free trials, and provide samples