At IFG we are keen to encourage female entrepreneurship. As part of that effort we are hosting a series of female entrepreneur guest posts to share their stories, tips, and lessons learnt.
The below is a guest post from Hajra Khan. She graduated from University of Nottingham in 2016 with a BA in Theology and Religious Studies. She previously obtained an Islamic theology and Jurisprudence degree (Alimiyyah) from Jamea Al- Kauthar. She is the mother of two and runs a successful Amazon business.
I wanted to start with a bit of background to the business I do, so the tips below have a context behind them. I started selling online on Amazon in May 2017: I had one product, little cash, no children and very little idea of the commitment ahead of me.
Fast forward to today and I now have three products, two children and so much more experience of Amazon and the particular markets I am operating in. I have also been long enough in business to see both ups and down and realise how quickly things change in online marketplaces.
The business lessons below are a summary of what I have learnt in these three years. I pray it is helpful for you.
Do a little bit every day, even if it is one email. Some days will be more productive than others but the way you progress and grow is through consistency.
Working in short bursts will not work in building a long term as business as initially it will demand your constant attention and upkeep.
As your business begins to grow and more of your attention is required for its growth, certain other monotonous tasks can be delegated. It is often easy to underestimate the value of what you are doing especially when you cannot see any results, but stick at it as its this drip-drip-drip of work that build the stalactites and stalagmites!
This is in relation to your overall life, which your business is a part of. Observe your routine from a bird’s-eye view perspective and if it is haphazard and you are fitting in business wherever and whenever you can then that is not sustainable.
Eventually you will burn out or your family will be deprived of a wholesome time with you. Routine is healthy for you and your family as everyone will know what is expected of them at what time.
Personally, I think this is crucial for children especially younger children as it is difficult to explain to them and they can grasp routines a lot easier. This will help you with business as you can allocate specific quality time for it within your routine.
However, if you do not have a routine you will constantly be in that state of “I need to do this and then this, then this.”
Having that routine on the other had will allow you a more fulfilled and peaceful day.
3. Plan and set Goals
In your plan, have a different section for long-term and short-term goals. Work backward when planning; think of your long term goals first, then break them down into short term goals. Then break these down further into day-to-day goals.
If you do this properly and review your goals regularly then you will be working much more efficiently and prioritising as you see fit.
4. Do your numbers
This is the backbone of your business and it should keep you accountable and very aware of what you are doing and how much money is at stake.
It is very easy to fall into wishful thinking with business and be deluded into how much profit you are making and how much sales/turnover you are generating per month/year.
I would recommend doing your numbers monthly as it will keep you conscious and driven towards your goal. Numbers are how we evaluate the health of a business and plan for its future.
We don’t harm anyone other than ourselves by looking at our accounts through rose-tinted spectables. If anything – try to be harsh on yourself so you push to be better.
5. Know your limitations
It is very tempting to think that you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it but be realistic with your goals and expectations for your business.
I found it really helpful to find out what people in the Amazon space were doing and at what speed.
This allowed me a lot perspective on a timeline for the business and at what point to set realistic delivery of my goals.
6. Purpose of the business
You need to be clear first and foremost, your why.
Why do you want to succeed at this business? What is your goal that you wish to achieve from it?
You could have multiple intentions for why you want it to succeed but make sure it is clear to you why you are doing this.
Remind yourself daily if you need to. Rectifying your intention is a very good habit generally but also for business health too as it helps give you clarity.
Research and learn about your business and keep learning as you will always find new things that could be beneficial to your business.
Know that you probably know less than 1% of what you need to but take action to learn and implement and keep on doing that regularly.
Perhaps buy courses or attend conferences. Whatever facilities are available to you – avail of them.
Innovation is what drives business so you have to be willing and ready to change, perhaps at a short notice.
It is important to take care of yourself physically and mentally.
Both factors will inadvertently affect your productivity in the long term. You need to take care of yourself and be focused on yourself before work on anything else.
Your body has a right over you and you need to take care of it. Similarly, so do your children, spouse, family, neighbours and wider community.
One of the biggest revelations that working from home made me come to was that I could not escape or make an excuse for the rights others had on me and this began with myself first.
9. Me time/couple time
You need time to recharge and put time aside for your spouse and yourself.
It is very tempting to constantly work especially when you work for yourself as your success is majorly tied to the effort and time you spend on the business.
However, in the same breath it is crucial to step back and be physically and mentally present with your family and friends around you. Do not let your work swallow you.
10. Seek counsel from trusted and knowledgeable sources/people
This will be very specific to your business and what type of business you are in.
Get advice from people as there will always be new ideas and advice you may not have thought of.
I hope the above is useful for you, take one point and start on it today. Take action and take control of your life!