In 1999 I set up JEC with the aim of creating a company that would provide competitive pricing, reliable lead times and and all encompassing service to the export market. That was my experience at the time of course. When I first started receiving enquiries from the UK based export trading houses I realised that as well as offering all of the above to the export market, there was no reason I couldn't do the same for the UK.
We have continued to grow over the years and have now had a website serving the UK for 19 years. I have learnt my fair share over that time. It's one thing to manage a department, quite another to direct a company! Which brings me to my 3 top tips:
1. Work ON your business, not just in it!
Once you are up and running, hopefully you'll be able to expand a little and will be able to employ some additional hands to help keep everything running like clockwork. It is important that you develop systems that will allow your team to complete the tasks required to keep the customer happy and coming back for more, that is the whole point after all! Whilst your team is busy pottering away you need to be focused on the business, looking for new avenues to make go down and work on, places that can be improved, steps that are perhaps being missed along the way. You need to make sure there are as few place as possible that things can go wrong and that when they do (because they will) you can quickly and easilly fix them to everybodies satisfaction.
2. Keep your Customers Happy.
I cannot emphasize the importance of repeat custom enough.It will likely become the bread and butter of your business. If you want repeat business (and you do!) you need to ensure your customer service is top notch. Make sure you are communicating with your customers, that you can anticipate their needs and meet them before they need to ask. Of course, price will always come into the equation, so make sure you are competitive.
3. Have a Reliable Team.
It is very important that the team you are leading is working with you and the business. Encourage communication throughout, ensuring that everybody knows what is happening or can easilly find this information. For example if your warehouse is packing a weird and wonderful order to be shipped, the team member completing the documents will need to know all about it. The marketing team will also need to know so that they can document it and share it with the rest of the world.
Make sure your entire team knows what the goal is and where the milestones are along the way. Training and recruitment are essential to make sure that you have the right mix of people all with the ame knowledge and understanding of the business and how it runs.
However you go about running your business, it's important to be patient. It is unlikely to take off over night (unles you have an exeptionally brilliant product) but make sure that you are heading in the right direction. Set a goal an head for it.