Why you should test launch your business

Years ago when I had a 'proper' job - a proper job to me is working for someone else, doing the 9-5 grind. Working for yourself, although hard work and stressful at times, never quite feels like a real job to me because of the flexibility that it gives you - anyway, back when I worked for someone else, I started my first real online venture.

When I look back now, I realise how ridiculous the whole set up was but it provided me with, at least on a subconscious level, some lessons on how not to do things.

My first attempt was a web hosting business. I was offering a variety of packages for different sized businesses but realising that it is very difficult to get people to switch to a different hosting provider, I had to offer a USP. Hosting packages, even back then, were very cheap so I wasn't able to offer something better in terms of price. At the time I was using a hosting provider and reselling their services to my customers. Although expensive, they offered excellent support if anything went wrong. I was keen not to move away from them and lose the support but because of their high prices, there wasn't much margin that I could put on top of my prices to leave much profit for me.

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How I market my businesses

It's the summer and usually a good time for me to relax a bit. Everyone is off on holiday and so I get far fewer calls from customers meaning that I have some much needed 'spare' time to work on my businesses. It's an ideal time to think of new ideas, work on things to improve my work life e.g. efficiencies and generally slow down before I go away on my own holiday - there's no point working myself into the ground before my trip and then spend the first few days exhausted and rather than enjoying myself, I just spend it catching up on sleep!

With that in mind, I began preparing for my holiday around two months ago. I put a big note on my office whiteboard saying 'No Marketing!' in large letters. Why? The problem with me is that I like to be busy and when I find myself with a bit of free time, I tend to work on marketing projects to bring in more customers. The problem with new customers is that they require a lot of work upfront but then generally the work tapers off but they still pay me for various services. The most obvious example of this from my web site company. When I design a new web site for someone, there is a lot of work over the first three weeks but as the web site goes live, the changes, calls and e-mails generally stop for 12 months and then the next time I hear from them is when they pay their annual hosting invoice.

That's why I stopped marketing back in May. I didn't want to actively pursue any new customers because that would make me really busy for the weeks leading up to my holiday. This would mean I would be exhausted before I left and with the possibility that some projects may overrun and I would end up working whilst I was away - something I was absolutely not prepared to do. Our youngest son was born 18 months ago and this is the first holiday we've had in two years - I wasn't going to waste it with work. I have a lot of sleep to catch up on!

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My Monthly Report - July 2019

I admit that I have been working too much recently and so I've not had the time or indeed motivation to check my results and do my usual monthly report. Since January, I feel like I have been working solidly and I'm finally starting to step back and enjoy a decent work / life balance again. Good news for me as it means I can spend more time away from my desk, less time working and hopefully doing more of the things that I enjoy including writing and working on a new project idea that I have. We'll see!

Profit and Loss

As I've been swamped with work I haven't written a full post on May on June's profit / loss numbers however I've done the workings on and May saw a 3.92% drop in overall profits but I bounced back in June with a 8.58% increase. July saw a modest 1.92% increase as well. May's decrease was due to a couple of my SEO customers dropping out - understandable as they were focussing on other things but that lead to a sharp decrease on my charts!

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How I manage to run 10 businesses by myself

I've recently been reading a new book called Company of One by Paul Jarvis and it explains some of the same ideas that I've been using for my business. He's a one-man-band as well. He earns enough money to allow him to live a comfortable life whilst ensuring that he also doesn't work too much. He also enjoys spending time away from work and because he has set up his company to allow him the free time to do it, he can.

Paul and I share many of the same reasons for setting up our businesses the way that we have. We also appear to share the same way of thinking in terms of working less, enjoying life more and ensuring we have more time away from work than we do at it.

Starting and managing a business is hard work but how am I able to run 10 businesses at once, on my own? I don't have any employees although I do outsource some work to freelancers from time to time. I don't have an office and to look at my business web sites, nobody would know that it's just me beavering away behind the scenes. I am able to manage more than most because of automation and efficiency savings, things that I set up when I first went self-employed and others which I've developed since understanding how the real world of business works.

I'm going to explain some of the systems I have in place that ensure I'm not wasting time on routine tasks but first, why 10 businesses and not just one?

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