Starting a business is never easy, with the first few years often a tough grind as you struggle to get new customers, you struggle to keep up with the workload and you struggle to really get through with a happy, cheery face – the face you imagined you would have once you went self-employed and started “living the dream”.
Of course, when you are working in a 9 – 5 for someone else, the thought of being your own boss seems like an amazing one, and indeed after your business is established and stable it can be, but anyone that says the first few years are a total pleasure is either lying or working in a world that they really adore. Either way, although there will be many perks, the first few years of trading are hard, hard work, even with the successes and highs you will encounter, it can still be tough to work the hours that you will need to work to turn it into a long-term company.
And this is probably why so many businesses will go bust or close down in their first two years, with 20% closing in their first year and a whopping 50% closing by the end of year two, so whilst running your own gig might seem like it’s the dream of millions, the theory and reality can often be different, as these figures testify.
But then of course, there are 50% of those start-ups who are still running 2+ years later, and whilst the owners may not wake up every day and spring out of bed singing Disney music, the fact they are still going strong indicates some level of success, or at least, stability. And whilst the best businesses are ones that fill a need or offer a service that is required, and of course they are generally good at what they do, there are many other factors that can lean on whether the business keeps flying, or crashes later down the road.
For me, one of the biggest things you learn after running for many years is that at times, you need to say no. Of course, this goes against everything you are told about running your own business. Your told to say yes, say yes to everything, grab every bit of work, cling on to every client, kill yourself by saying yes, yes and another yes. You think it’s wrong to say no, you think it’s wrong to stop the work until your paid for what you have done and you worry that there is not another client if you say no and they leave you.
Whereas in fact, saying no can massively help to grow your business, and here is why.
There Is Always Another Client
If you are good at what you do and you have the results to prove it, or your products are top of the range, then you should always believe there is another client or customer around the corner if you decide to move on. Too many businesses hold onto the wrong type of client worried they won’t get more, but when one door closes, another does open, and you have to really believe this in order to progress. It is never wrong to walk away for the right reasons, but it is wrong to hold on for the wrong reasons.
You Should Not Be Work For Nothing
The client that pays late and just continually takes the mick out of your generosity does not value what you do, quite simple. In the first few years you tolerate it, worried that there is nothing else, never enforcing your late payment policy, but just avoiding getting to the stage where the court needs to get involved. These are the clients that really just do not care about you and therefore, you need to say no to them. Get tough, get payment and then put them onto a direct debit or standing order, or take payment up front, as generally, if they pay late a few times, they will always pay late, and small businesses needed to be firmer on this.
Some Relationships Are Better Off Over
You dread the email, you rarely answer the phone when you see the number and the thought of completing the work for *that* client just breaks your heart in half. But you feel bad for feeling that way. Whereas in reality, like a personal relationship, it just means you need to move on and walk away, as if you feel like that about a client, then it’s simply not the right client for you. You started your own business for a reason, one of which was to have more control over what you do, so if you get the Sunday evening feeling over doing some of the work, it really might be best to be honest, end the work and go grab a client that does make you feel warm on the inside.
You Have To Believe In Your Business
Above all, believe in what you do, and learn to say no. The more you say yes for the wrong reasons, through worry, through fear or through grasping onto the wrong things, the more your business will work with the clients you just don’t need. Whilst there might be short term pain, the long-term gain from getting clients who appreciate you, pay you and reward you for your services, these are the ones you want and these are the clients that really do allow your business to grow and flourish into the next 5 years of success.
And so, if you are looking to grow and wondering why you are not, look at how often you might just be saying yes rather than no, as this can often be the one thing you need to do to really push forward onto greater things.
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