Whether you're a freelancer, owner/operator, sole trader or small business manager, if you're starting up or running your own business - particularly if you're a freelance scribe, editor or writer - you need these qualities or skills:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
To run a business successfully you need to be very good at listening, talking and writing.
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.
Some golden rules for effective written communication:
Stay posted for future articles where I'll be talking about:
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.