Angela De Souza started the Women’s Business Club from her home in 2013, and has since grown it to the huge national success it is today.
She believes that there are few rules when it comes to setting up and growing a successful business, and even some of those can be broken if they stifle your creativity or approach to working.
However, there are some key guidelines she wishes she had known when starting out – here she shares them with us.
Set clear boundaries from the start
The most difficult part of working from home is definitely the time boundaries. If I wake up and can’t go back to sleep at night I work, if I can’t fall asleep I work until the early hours of the morning, when my children get home from school I tell them that I am just wrapping things up and then will spend time with them but most days that takes hours. It turns into a habit that is really difficult to break.
I advise anyone who plans to work from home to start off with clear boundaries in place. Have a separate work area that you can preferably shut the door on so that when office hours are over the work is left in the room.
Office hours are yours to define, they can be any time of the day or night which is one of the great benefits of working from home, however, no matter when you choose to work make sure that you are setting the boundaries so that work doesn’t take over your life.
Research is useful!
I started my business with no business skill or training – learning how to do things as I went along – usually the hard way by failing then figuring it out. This is do-able and really helps to embed learning but if I could go back I would do more training and reading before launching my business. Buy a book, read a blog, hire a mentor, or speak to someone who has been there. There are well-known pitfalls that I could have avoided had I researched / sought advice beforehand.
Be sure about what success means to you
Back then I put my all into the business and success was only measured by seeing it grow. Now, to me, success is so much more than growing my business – success is how I live my whole life. I still want my business to do well but I don’t want to struggle, and sacrifice all the other things in life just for that. I simply celebrate every little success along the way while trying to keep the balance between all the areas of my life.
Systematise as much as possible
I am constantly systemising everything I do in the business. If it doesn’t fall into my system then we have to seriously consider if it is the right thing to be doing. At the beginning I made decisions too quickly, so I now have a system in place that takes me through my priorities step-by step.
Moral support is essential
My husband has been my rock and without him I would have given up years ago. He always believes in me, always supports me and always helps in every possible practical way when I need help. I am so grateful for him and wonder where I would be today without his constant encouragement and support.
Be clear and firm with pricing
If you don’t truly value what you do and set your prices accordingly, other people won’t. At the beginning I did far too much for people at reduced rates, when I should have been more firm. When you are 100 per cent behind your product and won’t settle for less, customers respond to it. Be firm with your pricing and only those who value what you do will be awarded your time and effort.
Angela is an author, speaker, trainer, mentor and founder of the Women’s Business Club. In December she will be hosting the Maximise Conference and Awards Ceremony for women in business from across the UK.