Introducing the Self-Employed Business Owners Academy

Resources, training and people for self employed small business owners to talk to
 
If you are self-employed and want to do as well as you can from your business, the Self-Employed Business Owners Academy is the answer. The Academy provides a ‘one stop shop’ for people who own their own business to access:

  • resources that might otherwise be unavailable to them (at least without substantial cost),
  • training to help them understand the things they need to know to run their business, and
  • a forum where they can talk to other small business owners or experts and get answers to their questions.

In other words, the Academy is all about helping people who are self employed to be successful.

What does it mean to be ‘self employed’?

According to the Business Dictionary, ‘self employed’ means ‘Sole-proprietor or partner in a partnership to whom the legal requirements under a contract of employment do not apply. He or she, however, may employ others under such contract. Self-employed individuals obtain their own work or sales and pay their own expenses’.

Investopedia says: ‘Self-employed is a situation in which an individual works for himself instead of working for an employer that pays a salary or a wage. A self-employed individual earns his income through conducting profitable operations from a trade or business that he operates directly.’

In my view, self-employed also includes a family unit where both partners are invested in the business. Both may be involved on a daily basis but it may be that one person does the admin while the other person is ‘on the tools’.

Generally someone who is self employed works in their own small business and cannot rely on a regular income from an employer. Another way of putting it is that they work for themselves.

In my experience, most self-employed people tend to put everything on the line because the only way the banks will lend them money is when they put up their homes and everything else of value as security. They work long hours – much longer than employees are expected to work, and they are paid last because they have to pay employees and suppliers leaving the business owner to be paid out of the money that’s left.

Lessons from a life in small business

I am passionate about small business having started my first business when I was 14.

I lived in a country town of around 20,000 people. One of our schoolteachers ran a guitar school in the evenings. When I heard he was leaving the town and heading back to the city, I approached him about taking over his students.

I had only been learning guitar myself for 2 years and was no Carlos Santana, but, as Dan Kennedy says, “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king”.

He agreed so all of a sudden I was in business, starting to learn about the issues of delighting customers and managing money.

When I finished school I majored in accounting and in due course, started my own accounting practice. And along the way, I learned a few lessons:

  1. I was advised by others in the industry to focus on ‘professionals’ who can afford to pay higher fees. Many small business owners cannot afford to pay for business advice, as even doing the taxes can stretch the budget. So they often do not get the help they need.
  2. This actually may be a blessing in disguise as in my experience, outside of the numbers, many accountants know little about running a successful business. Don’t get me wrong, knowing and understanding the numbers is critical to a successful business, but the numbers are like the scoreboard rather than the game itself.
  3. Having said that, while small business owners know how to do the work of the business, they often tend to struggle with the finance and administration.

Contrary to the advice of my colleagues, I focused my accounting practice on helping mom and pop small business owners. Through this I saw the need to for an easy bookkeeping system and developed a program that has sold over 400,000 copies around the world.

Over the years I have continued to have a passion for helping people who take on the challenge of starting and running their own business. My colleague, Bud Chapplain, is the same. Bud partnered with me to market our bookkeeping software in North America. He is a master salesman and has a lot of expertise and experience in teaching people to sell.

So we decided to create a site that does what we love best… helping self employed small business owners.

The Four Key Areas of Business

In any business, small or large, there are four key areas:

  1. Product Fulfilment - delivering the product or service
  2. Business Development – marketing and sales
  3. Finance and Administration
  4. Management and Leadership

Let’s look at them individually.

Product Fulfilment

Business Fulfilment is all about delivering the products and services of the business. Many people start a business because they know how to do the work of the business. Sometimes it is the field they have been educated in, and sometimes they have been working for someone else and consider there is opportunity to do it for themselves.

Knowing how to do the work is usually the area most self-employed people know how to do best. However, there are often ways that things can be done more efficiently, and as your business grows you will need systems that everyone follows – or you will not be as successful as you could be.

Business Development

You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you are not making sales your business will not survive for long. Business development is all about marketing and sales.

Having products or services that your potential customers need and want, having the right price, having the right promotional tactics so that potential customers find out about you and current customers keep coming back, converting leads into sales and having the right distribution channels to deliver your product or services; this is what business development is all about.

Ongoing business development activities are vital to both short term and long term success.

Finance and Administration

For most self-employed people, bookkeeping is a chore they do not enjoy but is necessary to be able to pay bills and meet government requirements. It is also an area where they have not received a lot of education and so this often ends up being a major cause of stress.

Even when you have a good accountant, it is important that you know how to do the day-to-day bookkeeping and then have some understanding of the financial information and what it means.

Management and Leadership

The other important area that must not be overlooked is management and leadership. I have always remembered a saying I first heard at a Michael Gerber seminar: “The fish stinks from the head down”.

If there is a problem in the business, look at the leader. For example, if delighting customers is not a priority for the staff, it is more than likely that it is not a priority for the business leader.

That means you!

Each of these areas is critical to the success of the business.

As a member of the Academy, you will have access to training and resources that would not otherwise be easily available, with topics such as time management, leading a team, filing systems that work, getting more customers and keep them coming back, how to set your prices, and much, much more.

You will also be able to bounce things off other like-minded business owners and experts who can help answer your business questions.

If you are a self-employed small business owner who wants to be as successful as possible, we invite you to join us as members of the Self-Employed Business Owners Academy.