How to survive as a small business entrepreneur

Principle of separation of finance

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

How you introduce yourself matters

As an entrepreneur, the first thing you have to understand is that “what you do and the value you add is part of the introduction at any place”

You should always try to introduce your business alongside yourself.

And always try to use this format;

I am (your first and last name), (your role or what you do) at (your company). At (your company), we help x (your target audience) to do y (your product) better by doing z (value proposition).

If your business is a side hustle, the former introduction should be about your main job then you can add this;

If I am not working at (your role or what you do), I spend my time doing a, b, c (your side hustle, interest or if you have other projects worth mention — you can also mention your interests or hobbies here).

That way, you have been able to explain everything about you and your business.

As entrepreneurs, you need to get your business out there and once people are interested in your person, they will definitely be interested in your business. Also, people love to hear how unique you are and the different value you are creating

Before you go ahead, try to compose something similar then share with your friends so they can choose the one that is more precise and communicates value.

Does title matter?

Also, it is very important to consider what you call yourself as an entrepreneur.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Save the big titles for when you hit traction and established. You don’t want people to judge you based on how you address yourself.

Instead of CEO of a Graphics Design shop, call yourself Lead Designer or even just Designer. The market is filled with biases and you don’t want to lose a lot of money because someone think you are not enough for your role. Take the back seat and earn money even if it means your role has to be ordinary

Don’t fall prey of using words like “Self employed, entrepreneur etc” — it gives you fake expectations, consider yourself working for your company.

You are not your company neither is the business’s money yours!

In Accounting concepts and convention, there is an important concept called Entity Concept. That means that you are different from your business and you shouldn’t mix both.

It is a crime to even mix both — it is corruption and it means you are stealing from your firm. You are a shareholder, whether you own 100% or 2%, you are only entitled to salary that is clearly defined or dividend (if your company makes profit).

Dialogues with a few entrepreneurs

I spoke with a number of entrepreneurs in one of BrandConvo with BrandAid’s session, I asked that they mention things that are very important to them as an early small business owner, here’s what most of them mentioned;

  1. Saving up for my bigger goals or getting capital for expansion.
  2. Marketing on a small budget.
  3. Scaling up the business
  4. Differentiating ideas

Saving up and managing your business finance

As small business owners, we are often locked in the big vision that we often forget to manage our current stage perfectly. Whenever it’s time to save or plan, we are ravaged with excuses on how low our current income is, how long we still have to live before we grow old, how hard the economy is or most times we are faced with situations that make us choose between chopping life now or putting aside the little pennies we earn (at least we need to put up with our pals that are working 9–5).

Also, many traditional means are not even as encouraging, it is either we get charged or we get services that discourage us to save. We often do not even get enough nudge or suasion to make us realize these goals or sometimes understanding the tenets of managing finances.

We are either too busy scaling or bootstrapping that we forget that businesses and our lives can be separated. Many times, we have forgotten that business gets frustrating when the business owner or shareholders keeps pumping in money without getting actual returns or making enough to show for all the hard work. Hence the first rule — Pay Yourself First!

Here, you have to divide whatever you earn. Now as a small business owner, don’t mistake revenue for profit.

What is revenue — revenue is simply what you sold your goods or service for

What is profit—profit is what is left after you have deducted all the cost of goods sold and other operating expenses.

It is important that you save up your profit over time in an interest bearing account. In fact, as a rule of thumb, always ensure you set aside not less than 10% of your profits and you have up to 6 months of your monthly revenue in an emergency fund. This will help you to be able to make good, un-pressured decisions, stay afloat when sales isn’t coming as it should, survive economic shocks such as Covid-19 pandemics etc. You can set this up on Fundall and you’d earn interests.

How do I get to live without eating out my company? — How to know what salary you need to earn as an entrepreneur.

You can be wondering where will I eat or survive as a person?

Deciding what salary figure to land on does take some work, starting with the creation of a personal budget. You need to determine how much you need to withdraw from the business to live on. Be realistic about how much your life costs.

This should be a salary to be considered as part of the cost of the work you do. Whenever you are issuing out an invoice, you must consider all of these.

Don’t forget to give yourself a raise when the time comes and as the business grows bigger. The key issue is to ensure that you pay yourself enough so that you can sustain the business and sustain your lifestyle.

Plan & Set realistic, wealth building goals for you and your business

Wealth building, saving and investing might seem hard when you don’t tie them to any important goal. Setting goals simply means dividing life goals into each of these stages and making them actionable.

You have to be able to understand what you’d need as a person and what your business will need. What is the average revenue per month, multiply that by at least 3 and ensure that you have it as a locked savings account that is interest bearing and easily accessible. That way, you can stand the test of time even if revenue aren’t as forthcoming. That will also help you to make good decisions

As an entrepreneur, cash is king! That means, whatever you do, you must never run out of cash

Ensure that you don’t tying down capital everywhere. Never pay for anything on impulse, ensure everything you pay for is included in your firm’s budget.

Query everything you do, ask yourself questions — do I need this? Will my business survive without this? Do I need to buy this? Prioritise effectiveness over “all that blings”. If you want to make any big change, break it down and start preparing for them months ahead.

Don’t buys things without appropriate planning and saving towards them. If you want to buy a car for the company, ensure it’s a goal you have started planning towards at least 6 months away (depending on your cashflow).

Word of mouth can take you from 0–500

Most times we want to do the big play. As a business about to scale, you have to leverage on “word of mouth” and explore less expensive channels. Ads can be expensive and intruding!

You can leverage your immediate people by giving them incentives to market what you do. How about parting with as little as 1% of the profit to acquire people. Those people will bring in strong leads other than a random ad with weak leads.

Explore partnerships and acquire people in bulk. You should read Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Cold contacting still works. You can acquire a lot of people via emails, you have a lot of contacts (phone numbers, facebook groups etc.) — let them know what you have. And many times, sell value!

The triplet of scale

To scale up your business, focus on these three things — Unit Economics, Distribution and Operational Excellence.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
  1. Unit Economics is ensuring that you are not losing anything by producing goods or providing services. That means getting your pricing right, ensuring you do not have leakages and you understand everything it takes for you to produce a unit of your service or product.
  2. Distribution — the best products don’t win, the one heavily distributed wins always. Look around you and you’d see the reality. Virtually all the products you love are those closer to you. Proximity is very important so you have to create access for your product, increase visibility and ensure that you reduce the friction to getting your service.
  3. Operational Excellence — the winner is not the person with the best or biggest ideas but the person that executes better. Ensure that you grow very lean, especially during your early days… Don’t burn cash unnecessarily, build processes that scale and ensure that your business can move on even when you are not available.

Differentiating Ideas

I have written extensively on startup ideas and building for MVP in my previous posts. You should check them out!

Adios for now! Looking forward to hearing about how you’ve scaled your small business.

I currently work at Fundall — you should download the Android app via https://bit.ly/fundallapp. The website is https://fundall.io

We predict what you can afford to save & spend, bank for you, and recommend ways you can efficiently manage your money based on your lifestyle.

You’ll really need the app as an entrepreneur as it solves all the things highlighted by everyone above. Fundall is your financial partner that helps you build wealth and grow your business.

We have a number of financial tools tailored to people’s lifestyle ranging from budgeting & spending tracker, automated savings & investments tied to their spending, access to portfolio line of credit when they need money but their funds are locked in a savings plan, Fundall Lifestyle card that helps them spend wisely as it is tied to their budget.

Just like any bank, you can pay bills, buy airtime & data from your mobile and web app as well as use your Fundall Lifestyle Card to make purchases at any POS Terminal or withdraw money from any ATM.

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