5 things I wish I knew when I started my business

Sharon Menzies of Influx Recruitment says 'every day is a school day' when running a business. Picture: Contributed
Sharon Menzies of Influx Recruitment says 'every day is a school day' when running a business. Picture: Contributed
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For many people, starting their own business can seem pretty daunting.

Despite the challenges and fear over the last four years, my business has really turned around, but it’s easy to feel you’re going off track or that you’re getting nowhere.

As a business owner, every day is a school day

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Here are five tips I’ve learned over the years that I believe all entrepreneurs should know:

Be prepared to adapt

Our original business was a niche oil and gas recruitment company, with the world at our fingertips. Anything was achievable, but little did we know that the industry was going to crash. We had to diversify and fast. We moved into other industries such as warehousing and construction in order to save the business. For all intents and purposes, we had to start again. Always be ready to adapt to changing market conditions.

Employ the right people

As a recruiter, you may think this is the most obvious piece of advice you will receive, but every organisation goes through this at some point or another. As a recruiter responsible for people, we have seen it all and you learn not to take everyone at face value and to be prepared.

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In recruitment, you will always have let-downs, especially dealing with temporary staff and moving from a world-renowned industry with employment contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to temporary workers that would jump ship for as little as 20p per hour.

Ensure you know yourself and your business

It is essential that you know what you do and why you do it. Your “why” is crucial. It keeps you focused when the going gets tough. Question everything. Your processes, your structure and even your answers. I started my recruitment journey doing the same old thing as everyone else. I was told you must pick up the phone and make that sale.

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I called a gentleman and it turned out that we were the tenth recruitment company to contact him that day – I was appalled. I had to change the way we did things and that was when our “they ask, you answer” philosophy was formed – a revolutionary approach to sales and marketing – with help from Chris Marr from the Content Marketing Academy and Marcus Sheridan, the Sales Lion.

Enjoy the early days

During the early stages of my business, I was able to be creative, market myself and my business in ways you could not do as a larger corporation. When you have no money, you think outside of the box. In the early days, you think it’s tough. However, in some ways it was much simpler – after all, I only had myself to worry about! Now I have employees and sub-contractors to take care of. It doesn’t become any easier, you just become better at it. Remember – as a business owner, every day is a school day.

Have faith in yourself

When I received my first decent-sized contract, I began to panic. Do I have the resources to service this piece of work? Do I have the capability and funds to pay out £3,000 per week in staff wages? This is where it begins to mould you into your business and you begin to have faith in yourself. You must believe you can deliver the job at hand, even if you feel out of your depth at times.

In the oil and gas downturn, we had a client that couldn’t withstand the recession and unfortunately closed their doors owing us more than £30,000. Can you guess at which point I was more stressed? Exactly, the first. Being owed £30,000 was a short-term hit, but having faith and belief in what you do is for the long term.

• Sharon Menzies is the founder of Influx Recruitment

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