How to run a successful small business

And why you will never be 100% ready

You have started your own small business recently, or you are close to launching it. How do you run a successful small business? And what is currently holding you back from shouting it from the roof top? This article dives into the common mindset of new entrepreneurs, and how to get your business off to a flying start.

Launching a new programme, starting a new business, contacting a big client, making the next move, scaling up. These may all be things that are currently on your mind, and that you may feel a little scared about. I know, you want to feel 100% ‘ready’. That is why you are looking for help online. You’ll feel you need to have everything sorted. When you’ve finished that extra training. Once you have a bit more experience. When it gets a bit quieter. Not now, anyway. Now’s not the time.

Ignoring the inner critic and having a f*ck-it attitude works wonders

You know what I think? It’s not that you feel that you are not ready, but that you feel that other people think that you are not ready.

That you will make a fool of yourself and everyone will laugh at your failure. That people will judge you for doing something you are clearly not capable of. Or that they think you are big-headed for making yourself so visible online with your videos and your messages. Fear of failure. Fear of judgement. Just Fear.

What do you say…Am I perhaps a little bit right?

It’s OK. We all feel like that sometimes. But the trouble is, it doesn’t get you anywhere, and in the meantime, time goes by and you’re still in the same situation. Also, everyone else is winging it too.

run a successful small business
Photo by Anastasiya Vragova on

Tips to run a successful small business

Stop overthinking, just do it

I will tell you a story about something that happened to me in the past month, as it shows you how things can shift very quickly if you ignore that inner critic, and just start doing what you love. Disclaimer: I am a go-getter, not an over-thinker, but what happened to me this month, was even surprising to me – but it confirmed that what I teach to my clients, actually works: to take yourself serious and be pro-active, even when you are still learning and not perfect.

So, I love being a creative business coach and helping entrepreneurs get better at getting clients, but I am also a creative myself. Working with a business coach over the past seven months has helped me embrace that artistic side of me more, and this January I decided to sign up for an abstract art class. I loved it. I couldn’t stop, and kept making work, whenever I had a spare moment. It was as if I had opened Pandora’s box, and it was all flooding out. Wonderful!

I started posting some of my work on my personal social media accounts, and people liked what I was making. So I decided to open another account, just for my art. I then spotted a local cafe owner posting that they were looking for artists, and – again, not over-thinking – I dropped him a message. Totally detached, I thought, why not?

He liked my work, and said I could hang have a show in his bar this year. Wow! Next thing, a friend tipped me about a city gallery looking for artists to submit work for an affordable art show. I jumped on the opportunity, and they accepted my work here too. I kept following and engaging with relevant people on Instagram in the local art scene, including some galleries, and one gallery then contacted me last week to invite me to hang some work in their space too.

A miracle? No.

Arrogance or big-headedness? No.

Being pro-active.
Spotting opportunities.
Being both detached and confident.

There are people out there waiting for your skills

My abstract work is not amazing, not earth-shattering, and not incredibly original. But that is not the point. The point is, that I could have waited until (fill in the blanks), or keep myself and my work hidden until (fill in the blanks), but I didn’t. Instead, I loved making it, I believed it was good enough for it to be seen, and I went for it.

Now I would be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind that some people may think that it’s all happening rather fast. I have only just started; who do I think I am, exhibiting work hardly three months after picking up a paint brush? Yes – I felt a bit nervous posting my work for the first time, let alone setting up an Instagram account and writing the title ‘artist’ under my name. Who? Me? An artist? But then I thought, f*ck it. I am 43 years of age, I have seen a helluvalot of mediocre or even rubbish amateur and professional art in my 20-year arts marketing career, and I am too old to hold myself back because people may judge me. Let them judge me.

I can run a successful small business in whatever shape or form I like.

If people judge you because you choose to do what you love and want out of life, then it’s them who have a problem, not you. Their envy of your bold and brave decisions should be a message to themselves to maybe take a leaf out of your book.

So, the moral of the story?

You can start to run a successful small business without being ready. Make things happen without having done something for a long time, and you can design the life you want. But you’ve got to ignore the inner critic. Your work, whether you are an artist, a teacher, a shop owner or a coach, is absolutely good enough for your ideal client.

You are able to help someone today, make people happy, inspire them, serve them, sell to them, be rewarded for the work you do. But you’ve got to stop hiding, and start making yourself known.

My six top tips that will help you run a successful small business

  • Do what you love, and do it well
  • Know what you want to achieve and communicate this clearly
  • Make yourself visible and don’t be shy about it
  • Make relevant connections in your industry, and use your network
  • Practice detachment when spotting an opportunity
  • Trust in the process, celebrate small wins and keep going

run a successful small business
Look at that beaming face! Standing in front of my work at my very first ever exhibition!

You don’t need to build an empire overnight; start with a small patch of land

You may be putting something off because you feel you need to have everything perfect, and also that you will need to show some big results pretty soon after starting. Otherwise you fear people may think you’re not getting anywhere with your business, if you don’t have any clients or income to show for. But entrepreneurship is not a quick buck, and a lot of our family and friends have never started a business, so they have no idea.

Entrepreneurship is a journey, and it comes with a lot of personal development, steep learning curves, and trial and errors. That is what makes it exciting, and that is what makes you so brave!

You don’t have to justify yourself for choosing more joy in your life and running your own business. And running your own business can be done gradually too, first alongside employment, and later full-time. There are many different ways to be an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or self-employed. One is not better than the other. You do what suits you. But you’ve got to start. One step. Then the next.

So what will you do differently this year? Will you wait just a little bit longer before taking that next step? Will you stay in your comfort zone, out of fear of judgement? Or will you take on the f*ck-it attitude like I did, and move some mountains? What’s the worst that can happen?

Yes, there will be ups and downs, but you’ll feel so alive by just giving yourself that first push and making that decision. You’ll be absolutely fine, I promise. And even if, after some time, things don’t work out, then at least you tried, learned, and have grown as a human being.

If you don’t try, you’ll never know what it feels like. You can always go back to where you were before. But you probably won’t. Go on, run a successful small business today.

creative business coach and mentor


As a creative business coach, I would love to help you overcome your struggles in business and get you going! I help clients 1-to-1 with marketing, mindset and attracting more sales.

Interested? Book a free first call to see what is possible, and what this would look like.

What clients say:

“After working with Nina as my creative business coach over the past few months, I am so pleased with the results. Nina has helped me gain clarity on my values and the direction of my business, and has provided me with the tools and resources to make my goals a reality. I have really enjoyed working with her, and would highly recommend her coaching services!”

Jessica Augarde, graphic designer, England

Categories Marketing techniques

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