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What I learned in my first 5 Years of Business
It’s very easy to start a business and I was surprised to read that a massive 835,494 new businesses were registered in the UK during 2020, according to Reboot SEO Agency compared to 636,000 in 2019.
There was even more growth in 2021 as data from HMRC also shows that in March 2021 more new businesses were created than in any other month since records began in 1989.
If most people knew that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% of small businesses fail in their second year, and 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business, I’m not convinced that so many people would consider doing this.
In fact, if you search why small businesses fail, you’ll find a lot of articles, but not so many who share how they managed to be successful. So many businesses start, and unfortunately fail in the first five years - here’s a great article for you to take a look at: Forbes
Starting a business is easy, anyone can do it, but staying in business and building a profitable business, now that’s another story.
I started my business in 2016, I was excited, full of anticipation. I did it on my own without any investment and I’m not going to lie it, it was really tough.
However, I was determined not to be a statistic. I was going to build a strong, professional business, a business that would stand the test of time, a business to be proud of, a business to be THE standard in property management, where service was more important than a massive profit. That we would be known as being professional, sincere and reliable and to leave a legacy.
I guess with the excitement and naivety of starting a new business I hadn't factored in significant life changing stuff like a wedding, a marriage, a baby, caring for very poorly grandparents and of course Covid - and now running a growing business with a toddler.
I have learned on the job, and I am so proud that I’m still here and have just celebrated our 5th business birthday. Here’s a link to our Happy 5th Birthday To Us blog.
I didn’t have a mentor, or an investor and didn’t invest in a coach initially. I didn’t grow up in a family full of entrepreneurs who could guide and advise me. I had some epic failures, and there were days I didn’t think I could do it, but I did push forward and learned at the school of hard knocks. I am still not sure my closest friends and family know what I do, but I do know how very proud they are.
I have learned so many things about business and myself, so here are the top 5 things I learned (the hard way) in my first five years of business:
1. Build a Great Team from the start
Like many I started off just me and a 16-hour day! I worked my socks off; I needed some help but just didn’t feel I could afford it and thought if I worked harder and more hours then I could do it all! It’s not unusual when you’re a solopreneur, ask any business owner and their stories will be similar.
I built a small team around me slowly; we grew incrementally and we learned as we went. Often it was two steps forward and one step back, and we continued to move forward.
I made many mistakes but always took the learning, I was failing forward and we grew as a result of my learning.
My advice (with the benefit of hindsight) would be to build a team sooner, outsource sooner without feeling you have to do everything, and adopt the role of CEO sooner.
2. Set Your Business Boundaries
Did you read my previous blog? I dedicated an entire blog to Why are Boundaries So Important in Business.
Setting business boundaries enables you to have both a life and a business you love and achieve your version of work/life balance. It also means there is less of a risk of you experiencing major burn out.
Healthy boundaries at work help you to find more fulfilment as there will be less stress in your professional life, allowing more room and time for a better personal life.
Without healthy boundaries in place, it is easy to take on too much; to please others more than we please ourselves, which then leads to wasted time, stress, financial burdens and relationship issues, which can lean onto mental distress.
Start out by setting your business boundaries so you are in control of your business, so you can build the life you love. But if you didn’t and you’re playing catch up, remember it’s never too late to set and reset your boundaries, just make sure you tell everyone.
3. Take Time to Build Trust
I learned the hard way - learn from my experience.
I like people, I like working with, and being around people. When I started my business, I was so excited by the opportunity, excited to be part of a new business, I guess I got carried away and was too quick to trust. I would have literally put my life in their hands.
I learned the hard way, and hadn’t appreciated that not everyone will share my values, and not everyone is trustworthy.
My recommendation is that you take time to trust, and then once you’ve found that trust, keep them close, hold them tight and treat them with respect and reward them.
Be clear about what you want and what you need, and of course be clear on your boundaries, professionally and personally.
4. Get a Business Mentor
Someone who can guide you, someone who is more experienced in business than you are, someone to play to your strengths. They will help you build solid foundations, stretch goals and keep you accountable.
Take time to find the right one for you. There are so many coaches and business mentors out there - with different skills and experiences, it takes time to find the right one for you and your business.
My advice would be, select a few, create a shortlist and interview them. Do not get sucked into committing your investment until you have tried them out.
5. Schedule Time To Rest Relax & Recharge
As a small business owner, you are probably doing all the tasks, you’re run ragged and you are exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out!
I really recommend that you remove the emotion, ditch the drama and look at it like a business - you are a single point of failure. Without YOU the business falls over - so quickly build your team, delegate those tasks and develop your role as the CEO so you can step back and lead.
What I have found is that everyone talks about this, we all know about it, but few of us actually do it. With the benefit of hindsight, this is one thing that I would have done differently.
I am so very proud of how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned. I’m so proud of the fact that we can state that Fraser Allen Estate Management is a multi award winning Property Management Company specialising in Residential Block Management.
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