It’s hard to believe it, but it has now been just over a year since I kissed a steady paycheck goodbye and launched myself headfirst into this wonderful, exhilarating, magical world of entrepreneurship.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was very unfulfilled and unhappy in my job. I had all these marketing smarts, and I was just dying to use them to help businesses. I knew that I had so much to offer, but my current situation was not giving me the chance to shine on.
I was speaking with someone I highly respect about this and she asked, “Well, what would you do if you could do anything? What’s your dream?”
“Run my own marketing business,” I blurted out. (This was the first time I had ever dared utter the words out loud by the way) “But I can’t do it now. I’m not ready,” I added hastily.
My mentor just looked me straight in the eye with that piercing gaze of hers and simply said “Why not?”
Well, I actually couldn’t answer her question. I couldn’t find a true, legitimate excuse that wasn’t grounded in fear. Her question haunted me, and a few short months later, I just went for it. Dove off the deep end. Not really knowing how it was all going to work out, but knowing deep down that it would.
It’s been an incredible year and I’ve learned so much. And I’d like to share my top 10 entrepreneurial lessons with you…
1. There will be ups and downs
As you’re thinking about starting your business, you no doubt have a very rosy picture painted in your mind of just how awesome it’s going to be when you’re your own boss. I most certainly did.
What really surprised me though were the downs. The days when I just didn’t feel motivated. When I just wished I had a little more stability in my life. When I wasn’t having fun. When I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t expect these feelings and they hit me hard.
But I’ve come to learn that this is part of the journey. There will be ups and downs in all things in life. It doesn’t mean you should give up or that you made the wrong decision. You probably just need a little extra TLC. The up swing is right around the corner.
2. It’s going to take more time than you think
This is a very common mistake that a lot of new small business owners make. They figure that things will get rolling quickly, and that as soon as the basics are set up, the business will be ready to go.
I know I definitely underestimated the time it would take to get myself up and running. I was very naive. There is just so much to do. From setting up the business itself, to getting the marketing going. It’s a huge undertaking. And it’s never really “done”. There will always be new things to do.
Every business is different, so I can’t give you a set amount of time that you will need. All I can do is warn you to be prepared for the time commitment.
3. It’s going to take more money than you think
As per above, the idea that things will get rolling fast and that money will start coming in pronto is not necessarily the case. You must be prepared financially for the times when you will not be making that much (or anything). Carefully think through how you will come up with the financial support you need.
A loan. Your savings. Borrowing from family. Your spouse or partner. Something a little more creative (perhaps an exchange of services?).
You need to have a plan to cover your costs and, you know, eat and pay rent and stuff.
4. It’s going to take more smarts than you think
OK, this is not totally serious 🙂 You’re plenty smart you fabulous thing you!
But you will be wearing more hats than you ever thought possible. You are going to learn one (if not a dozen) new skills every day. You are going to have to pick up all kinds of new abilities and push yourself beyond what you may have believed you’re capable of. You gotta be ready to embrace the whole learning process and absorb tons of new information.
5. Fully tap into online knowledge
There is so much information out there on the internet for small business owners to take advantage of. And so much of it is free, just like the small business marketing tips you get here. Use these incredible resources to help learn new things and propel your business forward.
With a jam packed schedule, it’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have the time to waste reading blogs and articles. But you must find a way to fit it in. I personally like to devote one day a week where I only focus on building up my business. This way, my online learning becomes a priority and something on my to-do list. Figure out what works for you and your schedule, and get that thinking cap on.
You’re already here, so that’s a great first step! (You’re signed up for email updates, right?). If you’re looking for some more goodies, I’ve put together a list of online resources for small businesses that I have found very valuable. Check them out here.
6. Professionals really can help
When starting up a small business, of course you are pinching every darn penny you have. This often leads to an obsession with do-it-yourself. DIY comes at a price though, and a rather dear one at that. How do you value your time and your sanity? If you can’t devote the time, if you can’t devote the patience, (or both!), hiring someone to do what does not come easily to you might be the best decision you ever make. Yes, there are costs, but in the long run, they will be well worth it.
You can also make the DIY route a whole lot easier by turning to online training created by an industry expert. There are so many wonderful e-courses and e-books out there that will save you alot of time and money.
7. Online marketing is a patience thing
From building up website traffic, Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn connections, blog comments etc… – it takes effort and a large dose of patience. Overnight miracles are not possible, at least not in an ethical, genuine marketing from the heart way. And that’s what we’re all about here.
8. The law of reciprocity is in full effect
Want more Twitter love? Tweet other people’s stuff. Want more Facebook likes? Get ‘a liking on other pages. Give and you shall receive. It definitely works. I can vouch for that personally.
9. You are not alone
When you’re spending every waking moment living and breathing your small business, you can start to feel isolated. Even if you don’t work from home like I do. Because most other people don’t really get what you’re doing. Your family. Your friends. It can feel like you have no one to talk to that truly understands.
But you are not alone. There are TONS of small business owners and entrepreneurs out there that have the same doubts, fears, questions, complaints, hopes, dreams… that you do. You just haven’t met them yet. So get out there. Whether you join a local small business association. Or you get out online to the many communities that are chock-full of small business owners. Pick your fav platform – Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, forums – you’ll find small business compatriots all over the place.
10. Being your own boss rocks!
It’s worth all the struggle, headaches and difficulties. I honestly don’t think that I could ever go back. I’m so grateful that I found the courage in my heart to take this step. And I’m so proud of all of you that did too!
If you’re just starting out, I hope my personal experiences are a help to you. If you’ve been doing the small business thing for a while, I’m sure you’ve got more lessons of your own to share. Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Comments, likes and tweets are always appreciated! Did I mention that I LOVE your feedback?
Image source: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net