What I have learnt running my own business – 3 months in!  

 Having officially launched my business on 1st May 2021, I thought it would be timely to reflect upon the experience so far as well as the challenges faced. Zeal offers a range of support from Human Resource, Minute Taking and Company Secretarial Support. In addition to these one of the services we offer is Business Support which has included helping new business owners with support and guidance. Hopefully this will be useful to some aspiring business owners. 

I was in a fortunate position on the launch date that I already had my company incorporated. I had one client who I had been supporting alongside my full-time employed role so I had systems in place for the basics such as invoicing, basic accounting etc. 

That said, there was still a lot of changes and challenges once I became fully self employed – some of which were expected, some were not. 

Key learning points 

  • You have to love it … granted not necessarily all of the time. Running your own business takes a lot more ‘extra’ time than you might think. You have to be willing to be on call all the time. 
  • The variety is amazing. No day is the same and you have to develop such a wide variety of skills. If you love learning and developing then you will love all of the new challenges.  
  • There is sooo much work that needs to be done which is ‘unpaid time’. Invoicing, accounting, administration, marketing, social media, business development, business proposals, networking… the list goes on. Ensure you factor that into your business plans. 
  • You have to do what is right for the client, even if it isn’t going to make you money – don’t be tempted by the money initially, if it isn’t right for your client then don’t recommend it as your reputation should be built on putting the client’s needs first 
  • You will need help – whether you have to beg, borrow or steal (ideally not!) – getting second opinions on websites, posts, branding etc. will be vital. 
  • The feeling of getting a new client / sale that you really want is a bit like being a kid at Christmas. Hopefully that feeling doesn’t go away. 

Top tips 

  • Join local business networks. On the IOM this could be one specific to your business area. In addition to this there are Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce and the Isle of Man Business Network. These will provide opportunities for support and networking, which you will likely need a lot of at the start! 
  • As soon as you can afford it, get support onboard. This might be in the form of an accountant or bookkeeper, Human Resource Consultant, or business admin support. It may seem like a huge overhead while your business is just taking off but in the longer term, it will free you up to do what you do best – run your business. It will enable those with the relevant skills and experience to do these aspects more efficiently and quickly.  
  • Make sure you factor in some time each week for ‘business administration’ when you are considering how many hours you can give to your client work. You don’t want to over commit and leave yourself no time to run your own business properly. 
  • Reach out to your networks and work hard to develop and maintain contacts. You don’t know when you might need them. 
  • Always give the best advice to your clients, even if that doesn’t make you money in the short term.  I recently had to advise a client that they might be better to hire a permanent employee rather than use me. The scope of their work meant that they would be better off having resource internally. Yes, this meant I lost a potentially large contract but the client knows that I gave the best advice for them.  
  • When you aren’t as busy make hay in terms of catching up on admin and also ENJOY the free time while you can!