14 March 2021|Latest Posts, Launching a business, Marketing, PR, Promotion
By Stefanie Hopkins, founder and managing director of Faith PR . Nobody can deny that we are experiencing unprecedented times, however, despite all of the negative news and feeling of unrest many are taking the opportunity to try something new and launch a business.
With reports estimating that around 85,000 online businesses have been registered in the UK, some of these will have been existing businesses expanding their online offering to counteract shop closures, but many where people challenging themselves and turning their passion or hobby into an opportunity.
Having recently celebrated 13 years of Faith PR, I wanted to share some of my top 10 tips in business that I have learnt over the years:
People are key to your success.
I learnt early on that you do not have a business if it stops when you’re not around. I knew that if I wanted to grow the business, I could not do everything on my own; I needed a team in place who could keep things going even if I wasn’t there.
Before I took on my first full-time employee, I tested the water with freelancers and made sure that the business has enough recurring revenue to support their salary. It is much easier to ‘switch off’ a freelancer than make someone redundant if you lose a big contract or see a drop in sales!
People are also one of your biggest headaches!
Over the years I’ve learnt that it’s not only hard to find, hire and hold onto the best staff, but managing them can be extremely challenging. I have found that this is due to the fact that you are often faced with sorting out issues that are not always in your control.
The best thing to do is accept that your staff will leave at some point – you just don’t know when. No matter how close you are to them, or how well the role suits them, they will move on because people change and sometimes ‘life’ forces you to move on even if you could never have predicted it.
Communication with your team is key
In line with the previous lesson, I’ve found that one of the best ways to develop a successful relationship with your team is to have open, honest and frequent communication, however big or small.
I make sure that I share the business’ performance, aims and ambitions on a quarterly basis. I’m very open and transparent about the numbers and how we make money – if my team don’t understand that, how can they add value?
Nail your accounting
As someone who has always been rubbish at maths, used to shy away from anything to do with numbers, budgets and spreadsheets. But you can’t run a business successfully if you aren’t on top of your numbers.
So, I’ve learnt to make friends with spreadsheets and accounting software like xero to ensure I know our numbers inside out. I can’t plan or make important decisions affecting the business if I don’t know what our forecast is for the next quarter and beyond.
Act like the business you want to be not what you are.
Think and act like a bigger company. Get the systems and processes into place early on that will support your growth. I’ve always found that it helps to voice your ambitions out loud – it makes you more accountable, which in turn, makes it more likely to happen.
Don’t try to be all things to all people – stick to what you’re good at
When you’re setting up in business it can be tempting to say ‘yes’ to every job just to get some revenue in. But doing so can backfire if you can’t deliver. Don’t say you can do everything when you don’t have the team, process, or proven results for that service.
Define which service you are good at and then do it well. Customer loyalty comes from doing one thing extremely well for your clients. Know your worth and value and if people don’t recognise it walk away.
The power of networking
Networking is one of the most powerful and most critical tools available to help grow your business. The beauty of it is, it can happen anywhere – whether it’s through local networks, industry specific groups or even through social media. It’s important to always remain professional and represent your brand, even when networking virtually. What you do and say will make an impression.
Treat your clients and customers like GOLD
The retention and growth of existing clients and customers is easier and cheaper than acquiring new ones and should be your no. 1 priority. If you provide an amazing customer experience and make them look good, they will buy more services from you and stay on longer.
Make decisions that mean you can sleep on a night
It can be hard running a business, no doubt about it. There are often big decisions to be made which can affect people’s careers and livelihoods. And while there is no easy way out for big problems, remember, there is always a way out and a decision to be made.
Once you have decided, you can move on and deal with the next thing. If that decision turns out to be the wrong one, then make another decision to sort it out. Being decisive will help you will feel more in control.
There are other things in life besides business.
I think it’s a given fact that most of us spend too much time at work or thinking about it. This can create a very narrow and sometimes lonely world. It’s essential to find a way to switch off and alleviate stress, or you will just burn out! And a burnt out, stressed leader is no use to any business.
About the Author:
Stefanie Hopkins is the founder and managing director of Faith PR with over 18 years of PR and marketing experience. German-born Stef is a modern languages graduate who fell in love with communications. She started her career in the industry at McCann Erikson Leeds working on behalf of Bentley Motors before beginning a PR role at full-service agency JDA.
In recent years, Stefanie has won several awards for herself as well as Faith PR, including Forward Ladies SME Emerging, Yorkshire Women of Achievement and 42 under 42 and numerous CIPR awards.
Stefanie is also a board member of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and sits on the committee for KACCL; the Kirklees and Calderdale Annual Christmas Lunch. Now in its 5th year, this annual event has raised over £100K to support young people across the region.