I’ve never felt comfortable with the term, “entrepreneur.” It’s an overused word which means different things to different people. I prefer to think in terms of building success. Success is also subjective but can be better defined by an individual. I believe anyone who is setting up a business should start with building a picture of what their success will look like. 

This approach gives you a purpose, something to aim for or, in business-speak, a vision. This will change over time, it did for me. As my business grew and developed so did my ambitions and I had to regularly redefine my view of what I thought it was possible to achieve. Ultimately this led to me successfully exiting my business 16 years after starting it from my spare bedroom.

Exiting wasn’t my plan at the start, back then it was simply paying the bills. As a service provider, I needed to find someone who was prepared to pay me to do something for them. I had to persuade them I had something they needed or could do better than they were able to. I was comfortable with marketing. It was what I had done before I set up my own business. It’s easy and feels safe to start with what you know. That’s not a bad approach to take but it can quickly lead to problems. There were lots of things I hadn’t thought about. How was I going to find time to deliver the work I had secured whilst still looking for more clients? What would happen if I had more work than I could do on my own or not enough to see me through? Contracts, VAT, accounting, HR. The list was long.

Looking back, I know I should have sought external support sooner than I did. We can all be guilty of burying our heads in the sand and thinking it will get better. It will, but only if we act. In those initial stages of planning for success or at any time when you are re-evaluating your ambitions for your business, think about the skills and experience you don’t have. They will often be the ones it is easy to get someone else to do. It’s highly likely you’ll be able to earn more than enough money to cover the cost of this support using the time you’ve freed up to do what your good at. Taking this approach is vital to building success. The people and companies I worked with whilst running my business were critical to its success. I would urge anyone running their own business to take a step back, check they still know what their ambitions for the business are, and then think about the support they could get to help them achieve those ambitions sooner or more easily or, hopefully, both.

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Written by: Sarah Trethowan of Bridging the Gap - Sarah Trethowan Business Advice Limited
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