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The six C's of running your own business

Sally-Anne Watson Kane . Tuesday, November 01, 2016 . Comments
The six C's of running your own business

Whether you're a freelancer, owner/operator, sole trader or small business manager, if you're starting up or running your own business - particularly a scribing or editing business - you need these qualities or skills:

  1. Creativity
  2. Common sense
  3. Courage
  4. Commitment and resilience
  5. adaptability to Change
  6. great Communication skills.

1. Creativity

If you want to create a new and original business, you need to be creative. You also need friends or colleagues with creative minds, with whom you can bounce your ideas around and find new ways of doing things. With the help of others, you'll be able to come up with a range of options for what your business is going to be, what you are going to do and how you're going to do it. You'll be able to collect ideas that will help you decide on the business name, the logo and all those things that make up the 'brand' of your business.

But it is your business. You are the only one who can decide on the best logo, best brand and best approach for your particular business. And once your business is up and running, you're the one who'll need to be creative in dealing with problems as they arise, find ways to increase your clients in a particular area, or come up with ideas for exploring new niche markets.

2. Common sense

The other side of the coin of creativity is basic common sense. If you've got a common sense approach, before you go very far with your business idea you'll do some research to work out whether there's a gap in the market for the goods or services you want to sell; or whether there are already other people selling what you want to sell, in which case you may need to work out how you can make what you're selling a bit different to all the rest. You'll need to think about what it will cost to set up and run your business, whether you can afford it, and the targets you'll have to meet in order to cover your costs and start to earn a profit. If you use basic common sense to work out these things before starting up your business, you're far more likely to succeed.

A large percentage of small businesses founder during their first year. This doesn't mean yours will, but if you are wise you'll heed the old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket. When starting up a business, make sure you've got a 'Plan B' just in case 'Plan A' doesn't work out; make sure that if your business does stumble or fall, you'll be able to live with that.

3. Courage

Courage is going ahead with something despite your fears, despite the risk of failing, because you believe you'll be able to do it. 

It takes a lot of courage to start up your own business, especially if doing so means leaving your paid job. It takes a little less courage if your new business doesn't have to be your sole source of income; for example, if you've got a financial back-up plan, such as a partner who can support you, if needs be, during the first year of running your business.

It takes courage to learn to do all the new things you have to learn to run a business: network with other businesses and staff; deal with clients or customers; be professional and confident with clients, customers and colleagues when you are only just starting to work out what being 'professional' is. It takes courage to withstand the setbacks that will happen, to realise and admit it when you make a mistake, to take the small risks that are necessary when running a small business, and to maintain your integrity no matter what.

4. Commitment and resilience

Once you start up your business, you may not be able to take a holiday for a very long time. You may not be able to take weekends off. You probably won't be able to spend as much time as you'd like with family or friends because during those first couple of years of running your business, you'll  be flat out not only doing the money-making work but also learning the ropes business management.

You also need to be really resilient when running your own business. There will be peaks and troughs - busy times when you think how well you are going, then quiet times where you wonder if you've done something wrong or whether your business is going down the drain. Just remember: 'all these things too shall pass'. During the peaks, work hard but don't overdo it - keep a semblance of work-life balance. During the troughs, continue to work hard even if it's unpaid work; those hours spent improving your website or shopfront, or doing promotions, will pay off in the long run.

5. adaptability to Change

There is only one thing that's certain in life and that is change, and it's no different when you're running a business. As your clients, technology and the world change, your business and what it offers needs to change as well in order to survive. 

You need to be able to adapt to whatever changes throws themselves at you. For example:

  • A long term regular client has changed their policies; they now have different needs. What do you do? If you can, quickly adapt your goods or services to suit those new needs.
  • A client suddenly requires you to have public and products liability insurance without which it cannot continue to use your goods or services. What do you do? Decide whether to take out the required insurances or lose the client. In my experience it is always better to take the plunge (e.g. take out the insurance) if doing so will also potentially grow your business.
  • The clientele of your business has changed the way they do business. This happened a couple of years ago, when everyone started using mobile phones instead of computers to do their shopping. What did we do? All businesses (including mine) had to spend thousands of dollars upgrading their websites to multi-platform sites.

6. great Communication skills

To run a business successfully you need to be very good at listening, talking and writing.

Verbal communication

If you respect people enough to not just hear but really listen to what they say, without interrupting, you're probably a good communicator. If you're also experienced in listening to people from different cultures and backgrounds, and understanding different accents and styles of speech, then you probably communicate well with all the types of people you'll need to deal with when running your own business.

To communicate well with people from all walks of life, you also need to be able to speak in the style that best suits the person to whom you are speaking. If you're a good listener and have lived in multicultural areas in Australia or overseas, you're probably able to communicate effectively with anyone, regardless of their culture. If you don't have that experience you'll need to learn cross-cultural communication skills on the job. I'll be discussing how to communicate well at different levels and across cultures in a future article.

Written communication

Some golden rules for effective written communication:

  • Write with your audience in mind, and with the intention of getting your message across.
  • Don't try to be clever. Write in plain language. Don't use 'fluffy' words. Say what you mean.
  • Make sure your writing is well presented and looks professional.
  • Letters or emails: edit carefully before sending, to make sure they are clear and there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Reports or submissions: self-edit, then ask someone else to edit, then proofread, to ensure they're clear and error-free.

Other skills needed when running your own business

Stay posted for future articles where I'll be talking about:

  • How to communicate well at different levels and across cultures.
  • The other skills you need to run your own business such as the ability to think logically and make good decisions, work well under pressure, negotiate and compromise, self-reflect and grow, manage your finances, and be self-confident.

This article is based on my own experiences since starting On Time Typing as a small (sole trader) online/onsite scribing business in 2002 which has evolved into an online transcription, scribing, writing, editing and proofreading business.

 

Copyright Sally-Anne Watson Kane, On Time Typing. Please seek my permission prior to reproducing this article in any way but feel free to link directly to this page if you wish to use this content - thanks!

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