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Tim Campbell’s 12 steps to running a business – part 3

The Bright Ideas Trust founder imparts his advice on managing a team, entrepreneur qualities and to-do lists...

The Bright Ideas Trust founder and first ever Apprentice winner, Tim Campbell MBE, has been sharing his top tips to starting and running a business, here are tips seven to nine in the series:

7. Being the boss

Running your own business offers the chance to be in control of what you do at work every day without the constraints of having to do what your manager tells you to.

Is having no one else directing or controlling you, something that appeals?  Being your own boss is a great way of gaining independence, freedom and control in your working life and it can be extremely liberating – it’s the prime motivator for many people to start a business. But the downside is that it comes with pressure.

You have to be able to manage yourself. You cannot ignore or postpone tasks, even the most mundane. If for instance your passion is to manufacture items, you may want to spend all your time creating and crafting merchandise but if you choose to ignore managing the finance side of the business, you might not have a business for long!  Being the boss means managing your time effectively while managing and monitoring the time and efforts of employees.

How do you think you will be as a boss? The key thing is to manage people in the same way that you would want to be managed yourself. Think about those things that you didn’t like when you were being managed and work hard to ensure you overcome these in your own approach. The most important thing to do as a boss is to clearly communicate. It is vital that anyone working for you is absolutely clear on what is expected of them. The more you can keep them informed of what the company is trying to do and their part in the process, the more your employees will be engaged and the less time you will have to do in solving problems.

Being the boss is as much about managing yourself as it is managing others.

8. Becoming an entrepreneur

The term ‘entrepreneur’ is thrown around all the time nowadays. What does it actually mean and how do you know if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

If you ask older people about being an entrepreneur, many may look at you blankly. Those that have run businesses used to only think of themselves as business people or business owners.

Today, an entrepreneur is a business minded person who is able to identify opportunities and find ways of making things happen or providing clever and profitable solutions. The key thing that often sets them apart is the ability to take personal responsibility and accountability for some level of personal, professional and/or financial risk to pursue their goals.

Many successful entrepreneurs started out with small businesses and they saw an opportunity or were in the right place at the right time and made the right decisions. Some of those decisions were no doubt risky and they could have lost everything but they had the nerve to take a chance.

We are all different and you have to make decisions that YOU think are right for you and your business to achieve the objectives or goals that you have set yourself.  The important thing is to think clearly about what it is you are seeking to achieve. Carefully consider all the options and the risks and opportunities that come with them.

People often say that you ‘learn from your mistakes’ and whilst it is true, it is scarier when you are the boss. If you are an entrepreneur, you will be more confident about taking the riskier route to get the bigger or better rewards.

9. Managing your day as a business owner

So what’s an average day like in the life of a business owner?

This will vary depending on the type of business you intend to start, what your role in it will be, if you have staff, how quickly you want the business to grow and so on. However, business ownership will always mean that you will be regularly involved with some or all of the following sets of things. So are you up for spending your days doing these activities?

  • Sales – Selling to customers, including making presentations, negotiating sales, putting proposals and quotes together
  • Customer service – Managing customers, including delivering your product or service, invoicing, dealing with queries and complaints and chasing for payments
  • Finances – Managing day-to-day financial matters, including keeping track of VAT receipts and payments, preparing invoices and dealing with your accountant (if you have one!)
  • Dealing with suppliers – Managing suppliers, including negotiating contracts, sorting out problems such as late deliveries or faulty goods
  • Staffing – Managing staff issues, including recruitment, negotiating terms of employment, employment contracts, training on the job, dealing with discipline, grievance problems and dismissal procedures
  • IT – Procuring and making your IT and computing work properly
  • Administration – Keeping good records, filing, dealing with government bodies such as HMRC and Companies House

This list excludes the vital element of making your product or delivering your service so you will need to fit that into your day somewhere too! Most business owners will tell you there are never enough hours in the day and that there is always something more to do. You will at times have to work late into the evenings or at weekends and sacrifice some of the other things in your life, but you will keep telling yourself it will be worth it in the end.

And it will be. The more organised you can make yourself and others that work for you, the less stressed you will be. Establishing you daily priorities is absolutely vital and being realistic about what can be achieved in a day is vital too.

Setting yourself unrealistic goals will just leave you frustrated when you don’t achieve them, so when starting a business, creating a to-do list is still one of the most useful things you can do to manage your day.

Tim Campbell MBE is founder of the Bright Ideas Trust


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