You can do it!
A city lawyer turned artisan furniture maker, a fashion forecaster baking up a storm, a marketing director selling Scandi interiors – Somerset seems to attract people who’ve decided to strike out on their own and in a completely new direction. If you’ve been thinking of doing the same, Dawn Davis, the brains behind The Somerset Business Show, the first of its kind in the county, gives a little pep talk to get you going…
First and foremost, always be yourself.
Set out your goals and objectives at the very beginning, then plan the steps you need to get there. Remember that things will change along the way, so don’t expect things to always happen when you think they will.
Keep your overheads as low as possible. Don’t spend money on things you don’t need: a second-hand £30 desk serves the same purpose as a new £500 desk.
Concentrate on what you excel at and think about getting someone else to do the rest. An accountant is the obvious example but how about getting someone else to handle customer services, answer your phone – or chase invoices.
Money: don’t reduce your prices because your competitors have – offer more, better customer service, or something that costs you nothing. Keep a handle on your cash flow. Oh and get as much free marketing as you can.
Network, network, network. Get out and meet and talk to people straightaway, don’t just wait for the phone to ring. Utilise other people’s experience, but don’t blindly follow it. Take advantage of free events like the Somerset Business Show, where you can meet potential clients, suppliers and other contacts and even try a spot of speed-networking!
Be approachable, open and honest with people – both customers and suppliers – you’ll get and keep people on side if you do. Keep your promises – integrity is everything: do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. Be helpful but don’t give too much of your time or expertise for free.
Keep your customers happy. Do as much as you can to ensure you have happy customers and ask for testimonials and referrals from them.
Expect the first few years to be tough but don’t give up. Surround yourself with cheerleaders and sounding boards to be supportive and to bounce ideas around. We’ve all messed up, keep going – and value yourself.
The Somerset Business Show is on at Rookery Manor between 10am-4pm on Weds 29 March 2017. There are dozens of exhibitors from a wide range of sectors, with seminars, inspirational speakers – and it’s completely free to attend. Just turn up or register beforehand and apparently you’re in with a chance for a prize.
Rookery Manor, Edingworth, near Weston-super-Mare BS24 0JB. thesomersetbusinessshow.co.uk