BUSINESS TIME: WE ALL DO IT... January 22 2015, 0 Comments
Being your own boss is awesome, It has a heap of pros, (like pyjama thursdays, and unlimited biscuits) but working for yourself also means that you work for you, and as a boss (I'm just going to say it) sometimes I can be a bit of a tyrant. I'm far harder on myself than I would be to anyone else who worked for me, so here are a few life lessons I've learned along the way...
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF
I love looking at what my peers are doing, it's inspiring, it pushes me to make my business better, and it's really interesting to see how different business models work. What I've had to stop myself doing is comparing myself, it's so easy to get really disheartened with the 'but their website is better' and 'oh look how many Facebook fans they have' thoughts, but the truth is every business is different, we grow at different rates, with different budgets and skill sets. Rather than focusing on the negatives, think about it logically, and if you think you need to make a change, make it a goal with a set time for when you'd like to achieve it.
YOU CANNOT DO EVERYTHING
The challenge with being a one-man-band is that you can't just specialise in one thing. You end up being an office manager/PR pro/graphic designer/book keeper and tea maker, but the chances are you only excel at one or two of those things. My advice is to be a total boss in the things you can do, and don't be afraid to ask for help on the things you can't. And don't put the difficult tasks off. I don't know anyone who enjoys doing their tax return, but don't wait till the last minute to tackle it. It won't be as bad as you think it is, and once it's done, you've got more time to spend on the stuff you love.
DON'T TAKE CRITICISM TO HEART
I do everything I can to make customers happy, but inevitably, very occasionally things go wrong, (postal delays, faults, etc). Most people get in touch, and the problem is sorted almost immediately, but there will always be somebody who never contacts you, then leaves you a bad (and sometimes unfair) review, and it can be upsetting. But do not lose sleep over it, if there's a lesson to be learnt from it, take it, but if not, just pick yourself up and move on. You can achieve so much more by focusing on the many postives than sulking about a teeny tiny negative.
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
Constructive feedback is so useful, it's helped me make my product descriptions much more accurate, and has even led to whole new ranges. Friends make really great guinea pigs, and if you've got good ones, they'll be honest with you rather than telling you what you want to hear. Social media's a really great tool for getting opinions too, we'll often test out new designs on instagram to gauge feedback before launching. Just be careful not to get too carried away with one strong opinion.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
When you're working alone, aside from the tummy rumbling, there's no one else to remind you that you should probably take a rest from staring into your laptop. And let's be honest, lots of people in 'real jobs' think we're just lazing around, sipping herbal tea and setting up instagram photos all day, (which is only partially true). In all seriousness, looking after yourself is better for your business, start well rested, and take a break whenever you need it. I find that I can start to lag around 3pm of an afternoon, I get post-lunch slump, and feel my eyelids getting heavy, so just taking a 20 minute stroll round the park makes a huge difference. I also have a host of different Spotify playlists to choose from depending on the task I'm doing, or my mood. Generally it's pretty laid back music that's not too distracting when I need to get stuff done, but when I'm feeling sluggish, the Northern Soul and Disco comes out, and the real joy of a home office is singing along as loud as you like.