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Starting up - our advice for new small businesses

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Emma Gregory new business, starting up, small business...

With almost a year under our belts now of Urbanberry Recruitment, we’ve certainly learnt a lot about how to run a small business these past 12 months! With a small start up budget and limited free time between us thanks to busy family lives, we really had to make sensible choices (and make them quickly!) when it came to making decisions about our new business.

So although we’re far from expert entrepreneurs, we’ve been thinking about what advice we would give to other people looking at starting up a small business in the near future. And more importantly, what advice would we have given ourselves this time last year as we nervously planned our recruitment venture…

Be aware of your budgets:  How much do you want to spend on marketing or advertising? What expenses are absolutely essential and what can hold off until you start seeing some money coming in? Don’t forget to think about important insurances, pension plans, accountants fee’s… it all adds up and forms part of your monthly outgoings. Have some money behind you before you start up to keep you going for at least the first 6 months, especially if you are in a business which requires waiting for invoices to be paid after your services have been provided.

Keep it simple: Don’t spend fortunes on fancy software that you have been told will make your business a success. Choose something user friendly and within budget, do your research, read reviews, do a trial. The only thing that will make your business a success is you, there is no point having a flashy software system if you have nothing to put in it! As your business develops and grows, you may need to adapt and change but keep things easy and clear to start with.

We made the most of free trials with software companies before settling on things that suited our business the best. We knew we weren’t able to compete with fully established travel recruitment companies who have the leverage and turnover to negotiate deals based on volume of business, or, who could afford to take a risk on something that might not work out. But we COULD trial as many option as we could, negotiate smaller commitment periods and then fully ensure we made the most of product we chose.

Call in favours:  We’re lucky and have some great (and useful) friends! From logo design and website advice to help with spreading the word about our business and childcare when we needed it, we had a fantastic support network. Don’t be frightened to reach out to people, setting up a business is a big step and can often feel overwhelming. Even asking your other half to sort out the evening meal whilst you finish up some emails or admin work – don’t be a martyr and definitely ask for help.

List it! Ensuring accounts are submitted on time, sorting out IT issues, merchandise, GDPR, advertising, attending meetings, taking calls, social media.. there will be times when you have no room left in your head to think! Sort out on a daily or weekly basis what’s most important and what can wait. What can be done after hours when you have some clear time away from the phone buzzing or emails coming in every 5 minutes needed to be actioned. We have a joint “to do” list that we both update and so can keep a track of what’s been done and what needs to be done. There’s a lot to be said for keeping lists! Get it out of your head and down on paper and it doesn’t seem so scary.

Take time for you: Easier said than done, trust us, we know. But sometimes it just means sitting with a cup of coffee away from your computer or making sure you switch off in the evening for a couple of hours. It’s easy to feel compelled to work every single hour because if you don’t, how will your business survive right?? But do this and you’ll burn out. Then you won’t enjoy what you set out to do which was to create your own work/life balance. We both have 2 children under 5 so there is rarely free time but we definitely recognise the value of a good nights sleep (children permitting!) and ensure we take the pressure off each other when we need to.

Mistakes are inevitable: There have been plenty of things we’ve had to do that we’ve never done before. Some situations on reflection we wish we’d done differently. But don’t be hard on yourself, it’s a huge learning curve and without mistakes you truly can never learn.

Be proud: In all honesty, we don’t think we knew if what we were going to do would work out. We were both confident in our own abilities as recruitment consultants but were we business women as well? Turns out, we are. We figure stuff out as we go along, rise to the challenges we get, focus on the here and now and work hard. We juggle families,  homes,  the business, friendships and finances – there is no denying its’ full on. But if you  have made a start at getting a business off the ground then keep the faith, be proud of what you are doing and remember, it takes a huge amount of courage to go out there alone!

Good luck with whatever venture you choose - it most definitely is worth it!!