Simone Walsh shares her 5 top business tips with This Woman Can.
You are not your business:
It can be very easy to take business setbacks as a very personal failing when you’re self employed. I used to do this and it was toxic. The best piece of advice I was given about thinking this way was: “you are not your business”.
Since taking that onboard, when something challenging happens, I try to take a step back and remind myself that the business really is a separate entity to me as a person. This helps me get back on track so I can professionally deal with issues that arise.
Strategically outsource tasks:
For years I tried to juggle far too many of the tasks required to operate my business. There were many jobs that took more time than they should have and weren’t done as well as they might have been by someone with more expertise in that area. I think this is something that women in small businesses often try to do.
Now, I’ve learned my lesson: we’ve started to outsource tasks to people who can do them better and faster than I can. For instance, we had a graphic designer re-brand the jewellery business this year, whereas in the past, I had always done the branding design. I’d spend a lot of time and never felt especially confident about the results. Outsourcing this work has had a positive impact on our online jewellery shop in particular, but also our jewellery packaging and more.
Consider strategically outsourcing tasks to skilled people and you may get the investment back many times over. Start conservatively to determine how it will work best for you and keep adding to the jobs you can outsource. Meanwhile, you can instead concentrate on the tasks where you really are the best person for the job.
Use life hacks to get time to yourself when you most need it:
My jewellery business gets extremely busy in the lead-up to Christmas and I often work long, punishing hours. A couple of years ago, the silly season happened to coincide with my shower breaking, so I had to use the bath instead. I discovered that simply having a bath every evening meant I would actually relax and spend a bit of time doing nothing in the middle of all the chaos: I couldn’t use my laptop, phone or tools. Often, it would be the only break aside from a few hours of sleep I’d get all day and I’d feel a lot better for it.
It’s now become a habit when I’m busy, even though I do have a functioning shower. See if you can find similar life hacks that force you to take time out when you need it most. You’ll benefit from it and your business will too.
Run plans and problems past a diverse array of people:
If you’re working on your own or in a small team, run key ideas and problems past all sorts of external people you know and trust: family, friends, former colleagues, etc. Some may have only a vague idea of what you do or the issues involved, but surprisingly often, they will be helpful and you’ll get a fresh way of looking at things, which could change everything.
My husband is a computer programmer who has little interest in visual design or fashion, but for years, he’s been brilliant at looking at Simone Walsh Jewellery in his own unique way and fleshing out solutions I could never have come up with on my own.
Aim to keep ahead of the game:
I’ve seen this many times with independent designers in particular: they come up with a great product, get lots of attention and sales, then have their clever but often simple idea, copied by other designers and bigger businesses. Soon enough, they lose the market they thought they could bank on. It happens in other fields too and not just with products, but also business strategies, marketing ideas and more.
My advice is to see this as being one of the risks of being in business: if you’re noticeably successful at something which can be replicated, then others will naturally want a piece of it. It’s not always possible to defend your turf when it comes to these things, although you should try up to a sensible point.
Instead, focus on always evolving what you do, consider adding some complexity to what you’re creating and watch what else is going on in your field. Aim to stay unique and ahead of the game where you can and you’ll find imitators will struggle to keep up.
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