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10 things small business owners should know

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The small business sector is one of the fastest growing and most active in the market today. Much of the investment, R&D and innovation stems from this segment. It is a hotbed of start-ups and business development, where business concepts are brought to fruition. However, the realities of starting a business are often a shock to the system of the would-be entrepreneur, says Martina Laurie, CEO, Hands on Treatment.

I often get asked if good entrepreneurs are born or if people can be taught the art of business management.

I tend to lean more towards that it is inherent within you. Yes you can be taught skills, but not all people are entrepreneurial.

The following are a few tips for anyone who is remotely thinking of starting a business:

* You always get paid last. You get advised by business mentors that you must pay yourself first – what a joke!

* You lose your ego totally: the one moment you are acting as the CEO preparing for an important meeting at your office and the next moment you are cleaning toilets if the cleaner has not arrived for work.

* With the toilet cleaner in one hand, cell phone in the other hand, balancing on your high heel shoes, multi-tasking at the speed of light.

* There is no sick leave – you have to be almost dying to miss a day at work.

* There are no business hours – you work 24/7 365-days a year.

* You have to become a master in everything: Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, Sales, Logistics, and Social Worker. Your head is constantly spinning with to do lists – and your name is next to all the items!

* Your staff thinks you are their guardian angel with lots of money coming in and expect advances when asked. When you try and explain there is no spare money, you have to endure long faces and emotional blackmail.

* You passion becomes your curse – e.g. as in my case: I love going for massages so I started a massage business. You would think that I can now have massage therapists available at will – nope! There is never time for a massage. And when I do get a chance it is more a quality control exercise than relaxation.

* You resign from your job to be your own and your boss is now you – the most cruel, most critical, meanest and most strict boss you have ever had or will ever encounter!

* It is very lonely. You don’t have the corporate structure to brainstorm, swop ideas, or just chat in the hall ways.

* It is an addictive – once you are in the game of entrepreneurship it is very difficult to get out of it. And new ideas keep popping up and most people fall into the trap of being trinket entrepreneurs. You see opportunities everywhere and it is difficult to say no to these “golden” opportunities.

These are tips taken from experience, from years in the world of business development, critical use of resources and strategy formation.

They are, of course, just guidelines and are not set in stone. The truth is that everyone has the potential to set their own course in their careers, to build their business, develop skills and achieve their dreams. But, one of the bread-and-butter lessons about the workplace is that being forewarned is being forearmed… and that can help on so many levels.