5 Things I’ve Learnt About Starting A Business 

11.36pm at the kitchen table (1)

Thinking of setting up your own start up business?

Well here are the nuggets of wisdom I’ve discovered along the Fit for Keeps start up business journey. Let me know if they resonate with you.

1) Professional pride gets you a long way

Set an example – and show everyone you meet that you are credible and worth doing business with.  Being from a start up business means you need to be the most organised and prepared person in the room if you want to be taken seriously.  And that usually means burning the midnight oil (especially if you’ve got kids to look after during the day)!

2) Your integrity is all you have to start with

Initially, when you meet with suppliers, they have no track record to look at and no way to determine whether you are worth the risk.  Since we were often placing low value orders to start with, many suppliers just had to use their gut feel to decide whether to work with us.  Being honest, straightforward and 100% clear about your requirements (including owning up when you have got something wrong) are all critical aspects of managing those relationships.

3) Talking of relationships, nurture the good ones – they are precious

Unfortunately, during our 2 years getting Fit for Keeps started, there have been a number of potential suppliers who have left us in the lurch or fallen short when they had made verbal commitments to us.  In some instances we have even been strung along for weeks before eventually being told they were no longer able to help us.  This made it even more noticeable when we found true partners who were working hard to help and support us.  Where people have taken a chance on us, we’ll continue to work hard to show our gratitude – and inevitably end up pushing more business their way as a result.

4) It’s OK to take things personally…

…if you don’t want me to take it personally, don’t be so personal!  Jenny and I have taken many a comment to heart during our start-up phase.  There is this big myth that the phrase ‘it’s just business, it’s not personal’ somehow makes it OK for people to behave badly.  You hear this kind of thing a lot in corporate environments. In my experience it is usually men saying it to women, as though there’s this magical force field between professional pride and emotion that is somehow missing in women!  Working for myself has been very liberating from that perspective – this start up business matters to us because it is ours.  Of course we take things personally!

Desperate times - the kids nibbles were the only thing in the cupboard! (1)

Desperate times – the kids nibbles were the only thing in the cupboard!

5) There is always a solution

Never give up.  Have a cry, drink your body weight in wine if you need to, go to bed and sleep and then wake up and fix it.  EVERYTHING is fixable in one way or another.  You need to just be as determined as hell and always ready to go to plan B, C, D, E and F if necessary.

So there you have it – I appreciate this stuff is hardly rocket science, but these are insights that have helped to keep us going when we have had tricky moments.

I think we must be on about plan Q by now but at least that leaves us another 9 letters to go at!

More soon,

Sarah xx

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