25 Years and Still Loving It

25 Years and Still Loving It

So, as of 12th Feb 2021, I will have been in business for 25 years.  In that time, my business has supported over 300 other business across Scotland and beyond and I still love it (well once January is out the way for another year)

To be honest, being an accountant was all I ever wanted to be (weird, I know, but ‘each to their own’ as the saying goes). What I didn’t know back then, when I started out, was what a roller coaster the journey would be.

I don’t think it matters what kind of business you are in, it’s almost always a rollercoaster of some kind and I’ve learned a huge amount on the way -  about myself and about business and I thought I’d share my top 5 pointers for staying the course in business. 

1. Build Your Resilience

Firstly, my biggest learning through it all is to roll with the punches and get up to fight another day. Not that it’s always a fight, far from it. However, building resilience in both yourself and your business has been a key skill to help me through the rough times and flourish in the good times. 

I learned to meditate. This was generally considered to be a bit weird 20 years ago, but I’m glad to say I was ahead of my time and that more and more people are finding meditation or mindfulness a useful way to stay calm and build resilience. Find what works for you, be it meditation, yoga, sport, exercise and do it regularly.

For my business, it was building a financial cushion to tide me through tough times or to allow me to invest when an opportunity arose. So, no, I didn’t spend every penny I earned as soon as I earned it, as tempting as it might have been and, yes, some investments delivered ‘diddly squat’ in terms of ROI… but at least I had some funds to give it a go. ?

2. Keep Learning, Keep Evolving

To play the long game in any business sector you need to keep learning and evolving. The world, its markets and the demands of customers are constantly changing. Plus, the pace of change is getting faster. We need look no further than 2020 to see how rapidly we sometimes need to adapt. 

So, to thrive and survive you and your business need to keep learning and keep evolving.  This includes learning about yourself, learning about business, learning about your ideal customers, learning about technology, learning how to lead and delegate, learning about team members, learning how to grow and to scale a business and, at some point, even learning how to exit. 

The most important learning though is to learn from your mistakes and then pick yourself up and have another go.

3. Be Authentic

We are all different and we all do things differently, even in the same sector or profession. This is a good thing. So, while you may want to check out the competition, this will only get you so far. To stay the course, you have to be true to who you are: know what’s important to you and build that as part of your business and your brand. 

It can take time to work out your values, which ones are important to communicate and deliver to your customers but it is worth the effort.  Doing so allows you to be clear about your offer, your customers, your value and it even helps with getting your price right. When your operations are aligned with your values you have an authentic business model which customers will recognise and value. This goes a long way to building a loyal customer base and creating staying power in the marketplace.

4. The Customer is always right… well almost always.

We all know that without our customers we don’t have a business and I have always put great emphasis on high standards of customer service and the human touch.  However, that’s not to say that every customer is worth keeping. 

The business has encountered challenging people in its time. People who were rude to the team, outrageously demanding or just plain unappreciative. Sometimes the only thing to do is let them go. This can be tough, but when you have your own business you do have a choice and I decided early on I would rather find and work with customers who appreciated what the business offered than wear myself out with those I cannot please. When you let these customers go, it gives you time to find and support the ones who value what you offer.

5. Enjoy It…

I haven’t had to put up with unreasonable bosses, do work I don’t like or work for people who don’t share my values for a VERY long time and as far as I am concerned that is an absolute privilege. 

 While being the boss may bring many stresses and strains, it also brings huge freedoms; freedoms to choose how to move forward, who to hire and who to work with.  You wouldn’t have the same freedoms if you were an employee.  So, my advice to you is enjoy it.