Sometimes I need a good kick in the behind to get a blog post up.  This one is thanks to People Magazine who have asked me to contribute to the January 2012 edition with some tips on starting your own business.  I’m not convinced that people Magazine readers are my ideal target market (never be too hasty, I hear you say),  and the tips, as I see them, apply to all aspirant entrepreneurs. They asked for 12 and I couldn’t help including 13 (for luck!).  So here they are, ala Michelle; 13 Tips to Starting your own business in 2012;

  1. Shift your paradigm from employed to self-employed;  Even if you hold down a nine-to-five, start thinking of yourself as “Me (Pty) Ltd”.  Think of your current employer as your largest and most important client.  This attitude provides freedom of scope in exploring other alternatives.
  2. Build your resource reservoir;  when you’re ready to let go of your biggest client (see tip 1 above) or limit the service you provide to them, you may need to substitute your income until you secure your next clients. Think of pooling at least 3 month’s salary plus the capital you need for computers, telephone, premises etc.
  3. Surround yourself by cheerleaders; people who believe in you and will offer you emotional support as you begin your new venture
  4. Gather your skills; what skills do you need in your new venture?  If you need to study, do it.  Alternatively, find and collaborate with the people who have the skills to fill your gaps
  5. Get paperwork savvy; research the legal and paperwork requirements that will allow you to establish your venture and stay compliant.
  6. Start networking; It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Seek out the people who make up your potential target market. Find out where they hang out, and join them there.  Don’t bother with your business cards, rather ask for theirs and add them to your database.  This list of contacts becomes a valuable source for communicating your business developments.
  7. Pay attention to your personal brand; people do business with people. Present yourself as a business owner, communicate as a business owner. What you say and how you be on social media sites may impact on your business success.
  8. Take the plunge; at some point you must commit wholeheartedly to your new venture even if the business plan is not as perfect as you want it to be. A business is a living thing and it may change, so stay flexible.
  9. Become intimate with your industry; watch the industry trends, learn who your competitors are, read the industry news, join industry forums.  Being interested doubles your impact and  opportunity.
  10. Develop a marketing system that allows you to stay top of mind with your target market; newsletters, blogs, articles and talks are all powerful ways to be seen sharing your message
  11. Walk, don’t sprint; building a business carefully, with awareness, one day at a time while  delivering on results is a far more solid approach then running headlong into unanticipated challenges that may overwhelm you.
  12. Get an accountability partner; someone with whom you check in from time to time to confirm milestones in the business development, and who will challenge you to set stretch goals and targets for the next steps.
  13. Celebrate your successes, even the smalls ones, and don’t spend hours dwelling on the failures – they are there to teach us what not to do and nothing more.
What would you add to the list?  Please share liberally – I could always do with more tips for my own business growth as it changes and shifts beneath me.