“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once a while, you could miss it.”
This quote from the classic 1980s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is very sound advice, particularly for the self-employed. When you’re running a business, it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day work, there is so much to think about and do, especially in creative agencies where the hours are notorious long. It can be incredibly difficult to set aside time to lift your head and look to the future, but it’s incredibly important to make that happen.
Building a business is tough
Over the last year, 77 companies were founded every hour. Many people are prepared to take the plunge, but sadly it won’t be happy ever after for lots of these businesses. More than half, 60%, will fail in the first three years. There are many different reasons for this, but neglecting careful planning, having a lack of direction without clear goals and a failing to keep on top of finances are what causes many to go under. Every business owner needs to take time to establish what they want to achieve with their business and consider what success to them looks like to turn those dreams into a reality. Without that vision, it is easy to become confused, veer off course and end up someone that you never imagined.
Don’t put passion before profit
Many creative people set up on their own businesses to pursue the projects that they love. They want to devote their time to doing work that is meaningful to them and gets their creative juices flowing. This is of course important, but it is also really important to remember that this is a business. When you are working for yourself, there is no safety net to fall back on, no magic wand to pay wages. Turning out beautiful work is not enough; it has to make commercial sense. Thinking about finances is crucial. Practicalities can’t be ignored, they are something that everyone who runs their own business needs to think about in order to stay afloat.
Be prepared for the storm
Every business, no matter how successful, will have experienced hardships at one time or another. Some of these may be of their own making and some may be completely out of their control. Just look at the last year, the pandemic has been a massive challenge that no one predicted. While no company could have been totally ready to cope with the situation, those that planned for tough times will have fared better.
The Covid-19 storm may have been particularly devasting, but it shows the importance of contingency planning and being aware of the risks that lay ahead. While not every hazard can be avoided, there are lots of steps that can be taken to soften the blows. Informed investments, sound budgeting and taking out appropriate insurance cover can all make a huge difference and mean the difference between sinking and swimming.
What are you working for?
This is a question that every founder or business owner needs to ask themselves on a regular basis. Are you still going in the right direction? Do you know where you are trying to get to? Of course, over the years your final destination may change, depending on business and personal circumstances, but it’s important to take stock and be clear about what it is you want to achieve. This can be difficult to assess on your own; you can be too close to the detail and too emotionally involved to take a rational view.
A financial adviser that you trust and that knows your business is in exactly the right position to help you turn your passion into a secure, viable business. They can ask the questions that you don’t want to think about and help you find the answers that provide structure and solidity, allowing you to concentrate on things that you excel at. They help you to lift your head and look ahead, ensuring you are as prepared as you can be for the difficulties that you will face on your journey. Just like your sat nav, they can point out upcoming hazards and suggest solutions to keep you on course, ensuring you reach where you need to go as safely and stress-free as possible.