On #TipTuesday, my 5 Top Tips for Starting a New Business

SO not an expert at this, but almost a year ago I did start my own business . . . and I'm still here, so I must be doing something right . . .

1. My first Top Tip for starting your own business is: focus on what you can do.

Sure, I've panicked, we've all panicked when staring into a hopeless black void of I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. The anxiety kicks in, then the money dries up for a couple of months, you do silly things (like take jobs you really shouldn't be anywhere near - not a real life example you understand) and then, just to cap it all off, there's that constant little voice in the back of your head that goes 'you can't do that, don't be silly, you're not good enough!'. I'm not going to lie to you, you have to be prepared for fun times just. like. these. when you start your own business. The key though, is to stop. Take a breath. Focus on what you can do. I know, for example, that I don't give up, that I work hard, and that I'm good at organisation. These are fundamental parts of me, that also happen to be fundamental parts of any business. If everything else fails, I know that these parts of me will still be there, and that these parts of me will help to build the business I want. What positive traits are part of you? And remember, failure is not opposite to success, it's part of it.

2. Get an app. A tax-calculating, money-tracking, invoice-producing beast of an accounting app.

Everybody finds different apps they like. I've tried FreeAgent, but I found that impossibly difficult to get along with, income from my craft markets couldn't be recorded without first creating an invoice for that craft market, that couldn't be done unless the craft market was first listed as one of your contacts - and it cost a bomb. I also tried Wave, a free accounting app recommended by Etsy - I liked it, but it was missing one feature: it couldn't send my tax for me. When I tried Quickbooks it worked for me.

Which one works for you will depend on your business, but I find Quickbooks easy to use, I can take pictures of all of my receipts on it and, most importantly, it will send my tax info to HMRC for me. A good accounting app will take so much pressure off you, will mean you don't have to keep stacks of receipts, shortens your tax return (something historically known as a pain in the arse!) and will help you keep track of all your incomings and outgoings. I made the mistake of not getting one right at the beginning - it's a lot easier when you have one of these right at the start than it is to try and catch up a year down the line.

3. Take it a step at a time.

So, you're totally drowning in this overwhelming panic. You're like, 'oh god, I've got so many things to do!', and you've gone into deer in headlights mode. You've simply stopped. It happens, I've been there, it's totally okay. Take a step backwards, stop thinking about everything you need to do at once, because (fun fact): you can't do it all at once, so there's no point crowding your head up with it. Break it down. What one thing is most urgent? Write a list, dump it all out of your head. Put some things on the list that are super easy to do, like: get a glass of water. Go do that, then cross it off. It has a weird placebo effect, I promise you. You feel like you're cheating, but man it feels good. It'll start you on the road you need. Then just keep reminding yourself that you can't do it all at once. Split your time into weeks or days. Spend next week on online and social media marketing. Spend the next week creating. Spend the week after on commissions. (I tend to split my time into days rather than weeks.) Whatever you have to do to stop panicking about the things you aren't doing and get on with stuff.

4. Find people in the same boat.

I have a friend who started on her small business journey a little after me, but she's great at marketing, and I'm good at visuals. It works really well (my friend, btw, is Jo Hooper at madandsadclub.co.uk, go check out her website) and it was such a relief to have someone to bounce ideas off, to go to when I've lost momentum. And I'm massively anti-social, so I never thought I'd enjoy it at all. Take my word for it though, it's like a weight off your shoulders when you know you aren't alone.

5. Find people who inspire you and copy them.

Image from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Ever read the book Steal Like an Artist? This was recommended to me a little while ago, it's about how to take small ideas and make them your own, and offers inspiration for doing so. Unfortunately, as I read the book, I realised that I am an artist and I 'steal' from everyone else all the time, so it didn't have as much impact for me as I'd hoped, but it's still awesome.

Long and short: don't struggle away on your own. No good at insta? Find people who are and copy what they do with their feed. Perhaps they're great at mixing up images of their products and themselves to keep the feed human? Perhaps they're great with their colours? What are they good at? Copy it.

Then, there are plenty of people who actively want you to copy them, who want to teach you successful ways of doing things. People like Kayte Ferris at Simple and Season, and Sarah Tasker at #hashtagauthentic (@me_and_orla on Insta). Go find those people and, to use the well-known phrase, fake it 'til you make it.

Was this post useful to you? Have you just started your own business and have any top tips or anything you'd like help with? Comment below, or email and I'll do my best to help.

Nicola x

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