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Janine Milne

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In a Nutshell: Five considerations when setting up your own business


Karen Gill, co-founder of everywoman, a women’s membership organisation that aims to increase both the number and status of women in business, knows from first-hand experience how hard it is to set up a company and the pitfalls that await.

Here she offers advice to anyone thinking of striking out on their own:

1. Learn the difference between urgent and important

Everything always takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you expect, so anyone running a business or setting up on their own needs to factor this consideration into their thinking.
It’s easy to get so caught up in what you’re doing that it becomes difficult to distinguish between those things that are urgent and those that are important, but it’s critical to know the difference.

2. Communicate with staff

It is vital to invest time in your staff. You need to communicate with people in order to motivate them and really help them to understand what you’re doing with the business in order to get the most out of them.
But in a small business where you are mad busy building it up, this kind of activity can end up falling by the wayside.

3. Take time out to recharge your batteries

I always say to owner-managers that they need to find time to focus on themselves. When you work for a big company, you are constantly developed and trained, but when you work for yourself, such activity usually stops.
Yet it’s essential to take time out to do some training. It’s something my business partner and I only got round to a couple of years ago and we have found it invaluable.
Just remember that it is you who is driving the business and, every now and then, you need to be re-fueled and have an MOT. People running organisations are often run ragged.

4. Networking is vital

It’s so important for people to network. Co-founder Maxine Benson and I are natural networkers and it’s a great advantage to have a good network of people that you can call on when necessary.

5. Know your times tables

If you’re going to go into business, it’s all about making money. Even if it’s a sustainable business or a social enterprise where the money is ploughed back into the organisation, you still have to balance the books.
This means that it’s necessary to understand how to read a balance sheet and it’s the responsibility of everyone in business to learn that skill. It may sound like a cliche, but it really is just like housekeeping and is about monitoring incoming and outgoing expenses.
If you have difficulties with it, hire a good accountant or ask your bank manager to help you understand how to do it

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