business coaching

#47 – Where to start before starting a business

Are you thinking about starting a business, but have no idea what that really means when it comes to time commitment or how it will fit into your current lifestyle? Pamela Eastwood, owner of By The Horns, a business that helps new business owners get their business off the ground, joins me on the podcast today to discuss what it really means when you say you’re going to start a business. With over eighteen years experience in SME development and franchise ownership, Pamela has a reputation for working with her mind, heart and her gut and has a talent for relating with others. Together we get under the hood to help aspiring business owners figure out as much as they can before launching their business.

Pamela Eastwood

Are you prepared for time management changes?

When you first start out as a business owner you must start with a conversation with your family. A business starts at home. You need to speak with your immediate family to ensure they fully understand your endeavour—they need to understand what they are signing up for, including you working longer hours, adjusting your level of home commitments, and any changing roles within the family. You need to look at your current schedule and then look to see if your tasks can be delegated or if you need to change your schedule around in order to make your business work with your family life.

There is a preconceived notion that being an entrepreneur means you will have more time on your hands, and while this is sometimes the case and it can mean more flexible hours, it also means you may be working more evenings and weekends than you ever did before.

And while you must be aware of the changes in hours and potentially longer hours, you should also keep in mind and discuss the benefits, such as the freedom to accompany your kids on school field trips.

You need to ask yourself and your family: what matters to you as an entrepreneur that will make the not-so good parts worth it?

Are you ready for any financial changes?

In addition to time management and schedules, starting a business impacts a family’s money. Finances is another deciding factor for any big business decision-can you invest in your business financially? Consider everything that you will need to spend money on: marketing, business cards, etc.—can you afford these? If there is a physical product, do you need to spend money on product development, etc.?

For some business owners this means looking into a small business loan, while for others it may mean changing their personal spending habits in order to invest in their business. Are you (and your family) ready for these financial changes?

Do you have any transferable skills?

How do you have to think as an entrepreneur? Pamela runs an assessment with clients to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has transferable skills that will benefit their business.

For example, are you genuinely the kind of person who can just walk into a room and talk to someone? This is a transferable skill that works well when running a business because it transfers well into sales and marketing, which are essential in running a business.

This also refers to typing, social media, customer services and technological skills. As a business owner you are probably doing a lot of this stuff yourself, unless you have a lot of capital.  So, if you want to sell jewelry you probably don’t have a lot of capital starting out, therefore you have to be honest with yourself and see if you can do it all yourself.

You also need to be honest about your personal assets—are you organized, driven, is your office cluttered? Will this impact the success of your business?

Having a basic understanding of your skill levels from the very start will let you know where you will have to really work at certain areas more than others. If you wait until you are already in business and you have your hands in 10 different pots and are trying to learn these things while running your business, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Try to get enough of a foundation prior to starting your business.

How much money do you need to start?

How much money you need to start a business depends on the type of business you are starting. For example, if you are looking to start a lawn maintenance company, but already have most of the equipment needed then you only need to spend money on registering your business, for office supplies, and perhaps on local marketing and networking. So, this would be about $250 to start to get the word out about your business.

But if you are a baker baking cupcakes then you need money for inventory, inspections, permits, ingredients, a commercial kitchen, etc. There is a longer process to starting and setting up a bakery so you will need more money for that as well as money for office supplies, marketing and advertising.

You need to ask yourself what you need to start your business. If you’re not sure then you can research this through free business resources at the public library, innovation centres and community programs. There are also a lot of social groups that offer free tips and resources.

You can also barter for services—if someone needs a website and you have that skill, offer your skills in exchange for a website. Don’t be afraid to ask! You may be surprised at what you get. Just make sure it is for something you actually want and need—you need to make sure it makes sense for both parties. You want to treat a barter transaction as you would any business transaction.

Are you committed?

Commitment means asking yourself if this is the right time for you and your family—Do you have the flexibility required to make it work? Do you have the money needed to start?

Sometimes you may have the flexibility, but not the money and that means you may need to get a part time job to support your business. This the means you have to commit to setting aside certain days and time to work in and on your business.

Your commitment can vary depending on your situation—if you’re unsure you can commit to a certain period of time, such as three months. Just be sure to discuss this with your family and make sure it works for everyone.

When starting any business, it is important to know your skill sets and assets and then seek out help for the rest. You may want to look at hiring a consultant, such as Pamela, who can help you define the services and customers that are unique to your business.

Then establish early foundations in operations management. This means keeping receipts and invoices organized, get the appropriate processes, etc. Having these in place means you will spend the time working on making your business a success instead of spinning your wheels.

In essence, starting a business takes more than just loving what you do. You need to have make sure everyone close to you is on board, and have the foundation needed to ensure you have everything you need to give your business the best shot.

#40 - An update on my business

There have been a lot of changes in my business over the last while and as a marketing expert I have been woefully unclear about what I do and who I do it for, so I took some time to record a short podcast that talks about where I came from in my business, how I came to make some changes, as well as my current business focus. So many exciting changes!

These show notes are a bit different than most because I'm not going to simply recap what I said in the show but share the same news in a different way - you may want to read and listen both! :D

In the beginning

When I started my business I wasn't sure what I was doing. I was experimenting and I was doing things simply because I felt there was a need. I'm sure many of you can relate. 

The first thing I did was run some Twitter workshops - they were for 3-5 people, usually in a local coffee shop and cost about $20. They were a lot of fun and from there I started expanding. I started writing strategies for small businesses and running more workshops to help people learn how to use marketing tools. 

In the middle

Then I formed a partnership with Karen Wilson. We were Wellman Wilson Consulting for three years and it was fabulous. We worked with bigger organizations, we spoke at conferences, we put together all kinds of online learning. But as many things do, business started to shift and change again, and we decided to part ways, leaving me open for a new direction once again.

Time for a change

I started The Biz Studio Facebook group and started reaching out beyond marketing. I ran a 2016 planning day, I started my first paid Mastermind program, and more and more I realized I was coaching far beyond the scope of just marketing. I decided I wanted to formalize those skills and this summer I was certified with the Professional Business Coach Alliance of Canada.

The certification process was amazing and reinforced that I was on exactly the right path!

What I do now

So what comes next? I'm rebranding my business, and probably this podcast, over the next few months. I will officially be The Biz Studio because my passion is creating community and opportunities for small business owners to find the support they need, and that's more than just me a lot of the time!

I'm running Masterminds regularly (I have a few spots left in my 3 month program that launches at the end of October!) and I'm focusing on in person workshops and a lot of one-on-one coaching. Marketing is always going to be part of what I do because it's what I have focused my career on for the last 15 years, but now I also have a great toolbox at my disposal to help with sales, mission and vision, key performance indicators, exit strategies and really - so much more!

Keep your eyes open for more changes as they trickle in. And if you're ready to start getting support with your business, whether through a Mastermind group or one-on-one coaching, book a consultation with me - I'd love to talk and see if The Biz Studio is the right fit for you!