This month 15 years ago, director of Crail Consulting Rachel Letby, started her business. Here she shares her top tips for budding entrepreneurs

This month 15 years ago I took the plunge and started my own business. Crail Consulting, a change management consultancy, came into being and was birthed from my passion to see sustainable and successful change delivered in an ethical way. Working for yourself is without doubt a huge learning curve and 15 years down the line there are many things I’ve learned on the journey. Here’s just a few…

Keep focused
• It’s so easy to get distracted, but you need the strength of mind to keep focused on what you said you were going to do, whether that’s planning, marketing, producing or delivering; otherwise the hours, the days, the weeks pass by and nothing happens.

• That’s not just about working for yourself either, it’s also for when you’re NOT meant to be working. If possible try not to succumb to the surreptitious checking of e-mails when you’re not meant to be working!

Values
• It may be that you are not absolutely clear what your values are. However, listen to your reaction to something. If you instinctively push back it usually means it’s against your values and vice versa. It’s worth taking note as you’ll start articulating and specifying what those values are.
• It’s up to you how far you wish to compromise your values, but in my experience, it’s an uncomfortable time and often regrettable if you do. After all, working for yourself is about living life on your terms so compromise is always going to be difficult.

Ask for Support
• Tell your friends and family what you’re doing. Ask for their support. Then they’re more likely to give you leeway when you can’t drop everything at the last minute or if you have to cancel late in the day.
• Their support will also help you during the hard times, which you will have!
• Being true to yourself and doing what you want to do will also be better for you as a person. They will benefit by having an authentic you rather than someone who puts on an act for work and then comes home in a grump.

Manage your Money
• Thoroughly plan and cost out what you are doing. Don’t leave any room for surprises!
• Ideally maintain a float of 6 months money. This means that you will be making decisions based on what is right rather than out of desperation.

Develop Resilience
• Resilience means the “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” As an entrepreneur and business owner this is must.
• Toughness is NOT the same as hardness. Rubber is tough – it bounces back. Diamonds are hard and can be smashed.
• You’re going to have days when you need to be resilient; to have the ability to bounce back. Have some mechanisms in place to help – whether that’s kick boxing, going for a run, meeting up with a good friend to rant and rave against the world. Whatever works for you!

Finally, remember this is not the be all and end all of your life. Work is just one element. Working for yourself doesn’t suit everyone. If it doesn’t for you then it’s no big deal, it’s just another way that you differentiate yourself from someone else. The key is to love, be loved and enjoy life.

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