You don’t have to go on Dragon’s Den to run your own business

Women In Business NI member, Kerry Hall talks about her journey running her own business and shares her top 10 tips for running a small business.
 
I’ve never written about my own business before. I’m a bit nervous, but hopefully it may inspire our future business women to take the plunge! 
 
The Seed Was Planted
I started my own business, a digital marketing consultancy, without the intention of doing so. I’d worked for 14 years in corporate communications for financial services businesses. I don’t think the corporate world was ever for me, but at the time, it paid well, I was given fantastic opportunities and made great connections, that are helping me grow my business today.
 
As I got older, life was getting a bit more real. My little boy came along, then my Dad died and I didn’t have the time to commit to a full-on corporate job. I’m sure some of you will identify with how I was feeling. Being stretched in all directions and beating yourself up about not being a good, mum, daughter, friend, partner or employee.
 
Connections Make It Happen
I am a very loyal person, so I did a very hard thing for me and handed in my notice. I left on the Friday and on the Monday, the marketing agency I worked closely with while at my previous employer, called me up and said, "hey Kerry, fancy setting up social media channels for a utility company?" Summit Consulting was born.
 
I completed this first project and thought to myself, I could do this for other companies, and the rest is history. Since then, I have worked with a wide range of businesses in financial services, utilities, hospitality, events, health & wellbeing and the charitable sector. Helping them get more sales, reach new audiences, reduce costs or achieve whatever it is they want to do. All using digital marketing tools such as social media, digital content, Facebook Ads, and email marketing.
 
That’s essentially my journey on how I have built Summit Consulting. By the way, it’s called Summit Consulting because I love the mountains!
 
Some of you may be in a similar situation to what I was in or thinking about starting your own business. To help you get going, here’s my top 10 tips for running a small business.
 
10 Tips For Running A Small Business
 
1.Just Do It
You have to take the plunge and do it. Chase your dreams and make change happen because no one else will do it for you. Don’t procrastinate over anything because the opportunity will pass and your competitors will get ahead of you.
 
2.Have The Right Mindset
Setting up and running your own business isn’t for everyone. You need to be driven, self-motivated, with an investment and growth mindset.
 
You need to learn how to ignore imposter syndrome (analysing what others are doing, so you think they are better than you) because it will hold you back. Adjust your mindset and get rid of any negative beliefs.
 
3.Keep Your Finances In Order
One of the best things I did at the start, was to sign up to Belfast City Council’s Go For It Program. I had a lovely mentor who took me through the processes and procedures of setting up an actual business.
 
She helped me with a business plan, forecasting figures and gave me lots of useful advice on what I needed like insurance, how to register as a sole trader etc.
 
All this put me in a good position to start trading. Much of what I learnt then, I continue to do today. Especially recording my expenses every month, so when it comes to filing my tax return, it’s all in a spreadsheet and takes 10 minutes to do.
 
4.Celebrate Your Wins No Matter How Small
One thing I try to do at the end of each week is look back on what I have achieved. It helps me stay motivated and reflect, before changing pace for the weekend. Give it a go!
 
5.Fund Your Own insurance Products
Moving from a big company, you forget what you get as part of the benefits package. I would recommend sorting your own life insurance, pension and professional indemnity insurance or equivalent.
 
6.Invest In IT
Whatever line of business you are in, IT will be a big part of it. Invest in reliable software and systems. Back up your files to an external hard drive, cloud and off-site storage.
 
7.Value Your Network
Never underestimate the power of your network and professional connections. People from long ago will help you in unexpected ways. Build a network of people in a similar situation as you. The Women In Business networking events are a great place to start.
 
8.Advertise
As Henry Ford said, “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” Don’t ignore it.
 
9.Focus On Your Personal Development
Make time to learn new skills that will help your business develop. These activities should take you out of your comfort zone but will lead to meeting new people and discovering new opportunities.
 
10.Get Your Personal Life In Order
Running your own business is time consuming. Us women have lots of other hats to wear. Make sure you outsource other parts of your life so you are not multi-tasking.  
 
Make sure you have other things in your life that you enjoy so you can switch off from your business. Don’t ever be afraid to say no.
 
I hope these tips give you some inspiration to get going on your business journey. It’s hard work but can be very rewarding and make you happy. Remember if you do what you‘ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve gotten.
 
 
Who is Kerry Hall?
 
Kerry runs Summit Consulting, a Belfast based digital marketing consultancy. She works with businesses to improve their online presence so they get more sales, reach new audiences, reduce costs or achieve whatever it is they want to do. Outside of work you’ll find her enjoying the outdoors, organising the Mourne Mountain Marathon and feeding her family!
 
Get in touch for support with social media, content creation, email marketing, Facebook Ads or take one of her new online courses.
 

Follow her on social media @KerryRHall or visit her website www.summitconsult.co.uk