Kickstarting and running with your own independent business idea or project can be an extremely exciting, freeing and liberating experience, but it certainly isn’t without its risks. Not only are there a bunch of different spinning plates to consider when going it alone, from financial burden to managerial strain and ultimate direction of the business, but you also will usually have to wear a lot of different hats at the same time when starting out, which can get quite stressful and lead to mistakes in areas you’re not familiar with – if you’re not careful, of course.
Starting your own independent business venture or got a unique project idea in the pipeline, and want to avoid some of the more common trappings experienced by naive first-timers? To get started, here are a few business pitfalls that you should be sure to avoid going forward into 2024 and beyond.
Not having a clear business plan
Often a lightbulb moment or initial ingenious plan will spur on the makings of a brilliant idea, but if you don’t flesh out what you thought was a great idea at the time, you can quite quickly find yourself in deep water when you don’t know what to do next. Where possible, sit down, figure out your finances, and set up some long-term goals of what you actually want to achieve from this venture – be it from a point of self-fulfillment and a vision you have, or even from a monetary and financial standpoint (which there’s nothing wrong with, by the way). From there, you can then go along the road and plan out what steps you’re going to take and what wheels you need to put in motion in order to get there.
Making these long-term plans might seem a bit excessive if you’re just starting out and are still perhaps figuring out exactly what you want from this whole endeavor, but you can always go back and change the goalposts if you change your mind, and having these tentpole achievements in place to aim towards will ensure that every business decision you make is working towards the same common goal, rather than making decisions without thinking which can ultimately conflate and have the adverse effect on your success.
Not having a clear company philosophy and value
Aside from being unique and stand out in your field, offering something different from everybody else and in a way that’s special, you should make sure that your business value has a clear motive behind it, and a MO/value that your clients and/or customers can get behind. Truckcraft Bodies, a bespoke commercial vehicle bodybuilding company in the Greater Manchester area, is a prime example of this. With over 15 years of experience, the company prides itself on providing stellar, bespoke customer services to its many hundreds of clients, and makes that known alongside its different services on the company website.
You too should adopt this sort of similar, clear-cut outline with your business. Not only will it allow for customers and clients to identify with your brand and not just see it as something faceless or uninspiring, but it will also help you to keep grounded in the future should things get tough, remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place.
Another notable side point to this is making sure that you’ve got a solid line of communication through your website, or through social media arms if you’re operating them too. Obviously depending on how big your company gets and how many customers you attract will make this a more difficult task to uphold, but trying to stay in direct contact with as many people as possible – even if it’s just to tell them that you’ll get round to their issue eventually – will break down that company barrier and help the customer/client to identify with the personable side of your business. To achieve the best result possible, you need to have your employees well prepared for all tasks. After all, one of the benefits of having a small business or freelance project is that you can oversee the day to day ongoings a little bit more directly, and so you should make the most of this when you can to separate yourself from bigger companies that might be doing the same thing you are. Which brings us onto the next point.
Not losing sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing
This step again ties in with the idea of having a clear company and business motive in mind that you convey to your followers and potential customers, but it is important. An absolutely crucial step in not getting carried away and overwhelmed by the different responsibilities that you undertake when pursuing something like this is keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing, what your audience or customer base actually wants, and referencing that to what you’ve got in the pipeline to ensure that you’re not out of touch.
Many companies bury their head in the sands when working hard to perfect their initial idea, but when it’s finally ready, their prospective demographic and customer base has already moved onto something different. Your business needs to be able to pivot with its audience, so unless it’s something that you’re not happy with and doesn’t want to reveal until it’s fully ready to go, try to keep them in the loop as much as you possibly can along every step of the way. In the cases of business ventures and projects that are still finding their footing, you might have seen websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo that take this direction – allowing potential customers to fund a product or service in advance, and change how it comes to fruition if they’re interested.
Not having an online component to your business
To end with some advice that’s relatively simple to pull off with just a few social media profiles being created and a sleek website, making sure that your business has an online component to it is absolutely a must-have. Not only will this increase your businesses’ reach from locally visible to on a potentially worldwide and international stage, but it will also help you to directly appeal to your customers and followers, and interact and engage with them directly.