RECENTLY I'VE BEEN TALKING TO A COUPLE OF FRIENDS WHO ARE LOOKING AT STARTING UP THEIR OWN BUSINESS. SO FOR TODAY I WANT TO DISH OUT SOME ADVICE THAT I HOPE YOU FIND USEFUL. SOME OF IT IS RAW AND HONEST BUT THEN AGAIN IT WOULD'VE BEEN NICE TO HAVE KNOWN THIS BACK IN 2012.
Running a business isn’t all fairy tales and unicorns.
The truth is that you have to figure it yourself. Yes some people can sell programs and packages that can get you where you need to be, on a promise that you will learn to do it quicker. But the key to this, you have to build a business on your own path, in your own way. Fail and have flops is a must! These are part of the deal. Because if you’ve been through the tough times then you’ll be much more clear on your vision.
1. The Business Plan
Do you need to complete a 200 page business plan? It all depends on the type of business you want. If you’re going to have shareholders and JVs, even a retail business and you’re going to take a loan out from the bank, then yes you’ll more than likely need to complete business plan. Google the phrase, “business plan” and usually there’s a free version from your local government or business/ bank entity handing them out or download for free.
2. Expect to work 40+ hours a week
If you’re going to get serious about what you do. Plan for 40 hours plus each week, or more. Expect to eat, breath, and live all things about your business.
3. Set deadlines
I found I was often moving deadlines for my own projects. Then it occurred to me, I’d never move a deadline for a client or a deadline in my previous life. So why do it for myself?”
4. Get use to selling
Selling is the crux of your business. It’s what brings in the money. Get over it. Try different techniques until you get comfortable with one or two.
5. You can’t do everything
Avoid trying to do everything. If you’ve saved some money so you can live off capital - budget for a VA. Look for this kind of support Look for a VA who can has multiple skills. Outsource the administration type things such as, email newsletter, posting social media, blog and social media posting.
6. 50% of your time should be promoting your brand and what you do
Get your brand out there. Tell people what you do. If you want to promote your brand the slow way, try this:
- blog post
- share that blog post on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram
- network in FB groups - start a conversation - participate in a conversation
- network face to face
- share that blog post again and again - schedule it on social media several times and at different times
If you want to promote a quicker way,
- try Facebook advertising, Facebook and Instagram stories and include video
- do a guest post on a large platform or someone else's blog who has a similar audience to you
7. You don’t need to spend $10K on a website and branding
Use resources like CreativeMarket or StudioPress. They have pre-made websites and branding templates that will certainly help you get started and fairly quickly.
I love this one. I’ve been experimenting quite a lot over the last 18 months. Learn to try things out - experiment with your offerings and/or programs or even workshops test the market. See what people want. Talk to people.
9. Self sabotage
It happens. Identify when this can happens and what you do when it does. Self sabotage can come in all forms. It's self talk that can turn up and sound a lot like: “I’ll get round to that when I’ve done this…” Or “I can’t guest blog post, until my website is done”… or “I need abc to get xyz”.
10. Move quickly/move slowly in your business
I’ve done both. I’ve launched programs quickly and I’ve moved slowly in my business. My advice? If you move too slowly and you end up second guessing everything! Find a healthy medium between the two.
11. Balance your schedule between working 'in' and 'on' your business
Entrepreneurs wear so many hats. Learn to divvy your time and schedule effectively between each role. Avoid spending too much time doing one thing and not much of anything else.
12. A brand is a journey
Enjoy the ride.
13. Let’s talk money
This is probably the only time I’ll talk about money. Your outgoings [in terms of expenditure eg. utilities, website hosting, advertising, etc] should be less than your incomings [your earnings]. It’s when you start putting payments and expenses onto your credit card, that's when you might find you can get into trouble. In your first year or two [or in some cases more] these are the times when clients come in peaks and troughs. Once you have the steady flow of regular income, then you may want to invest in the bigger expenses - in order to grow. Whatever money you do earn - put away at least a third of it and don’t touch it. This is for the tax department and your savings.
14. Surround yourself with people who support you
And ignore those who don’t. Invest in a mastermind or a tribe that will empower you to think and do creatively as well as strategically building your business.
15. Shit happens
Expect it but don’t live in fear of it.
If you’re a creative like me you’re going to find repetitive tasks tedious, mundane + a little boring. Most creatives do. It’s not something we’re wired to do. Learn to be consistently creating content, blog posts, social media, email newsletters over and over again. Another way of thinking about it is to create high impact habits.
17. Start the right business
If you’re new to the entrepreneurial world - think about your passion. Don’t think which business will bring in the millions. If you’re going to live and breath, 24/7 everything about your business you might as well build something that you’re passionate about. One of my favourite quotes is:
Be passionate about what you do. If people can’t pick up on what you’re passionate about, how do you expect them to believe in you?
18. Build a brand not a business
Businesses can’t and won’t survive if they’re driven by their bottom line. Build a brand that touches on peoples lives.
Building a brand is about creating a community. A community is people believing in what you do and offer - how you inspire them and how you make that emotional connection. A loved up brand is always going to be successful [in so many ways].
19. Look after you
It’s a bit of a confusing world - where people dish out advice such as “live like there’s no tomorrow” or “tomorrow is another day”. My advice is like with anything in life - moderation. Have a healthy life and healthy business. Find a balance between the two.
20. You’re not going to be liked by everyone
Get over it. If you’re building something from the heart and you believe it helps many people then you’re coming from a good place. Some people may not get you - so what. Be genuine and be authentic - be you. It can be daunting to be transparent but like I said if you’re coming from a good place then eventually you’ll attract the right community.
21. JFDI. Just fucking do it
Avoid spending too much in your head trying to justify why you shouldn’t be doing. I spent a lot of 2016 second guessing everything to the point I was almost paralysed. For me it wasn’t easy growing up where people consistently judged everything you do. The ingrained monkey chatter [as Deepak Chopra likes to call it] - needed to stop. Just fuckin’ do it and don’t second guess it.
22. Learn to trust yourself and your intuition
That gut feeling that says “go for it” - then go for it. Avoid living a life that has regrets. If it doesn’t work out then…refer back to No. 15. above. It’s how you deal with it and bounce back is what will make you a better person.
23. Define success on your own terms
Be realistic about it too. If you’re in your first year of business and you haven’t brought in a $1Million - you can’t expect it. If someone has said they did in their first year - chances are that business wasn’t their first. You may find they've already tried, tested and failed a dozen times before. Define what success looks to you - celebrate if one person has signed up to your email list.
24. The competition
Often people advise to check out the competition in your market place. My advice is know who they are but leave it there. Find the confidence to be the leader in your industry. Seek inspiration from other industries if you want to. It can be unhealthy if you’re obsessed and constantly checking out what the competition is doing. Create programs and service packages that are built on your strengths not on someone else’s “success”.
25. Think like an entrepreneur
You’re in business and people come to you, because you offer something they want or need. Avoid thinking like a freelancer or you’re for hire. Big mistake is be in this position, as there are some clients who take advantage of this. They often expect way too much from you and your time. Stand your ground. You’re an entrepreneur - and not their employee.
Tell me in the comments below what resonated with you the most, or you’d like to add to the list? I’m always up for a conversation!
With gratitude and grace,