You can take courses, go to conferences and do all the reading you can imagine on ways to become a successful business owner or entrepreneur, but nothing prepares you like hitting the trenches and getting out and trying it. We have learned so much even in the last couple of months that no amount of schooling or explanation from others could really encompass. If we had a time machine, we very well might go back and tell ourselves the following:
1. Just do it!
I had been sweating over owning my own business for way too long. It had been something I talked about and mulled over for years. One evening I sat my husband down (with an afternoon email forewarning him he wasn’t in trouble) and let him know I was miserable, that this is what I wanted to do instead and asked whole heartedly for his support. I wish I could say he agreed instantly, but he is the one who grounds me. Over the course of a couple of weeks of me actually hitting the pavement trying to make it happen, he fully believed I was capable and this is what I should be doing.
2. It is a little bit unpredictable.
A little might be the understatement of the century. I could have my day totally planned out and by mid-morning have it going in a totally new direction. I have learned to be flexible, but know my limits. I know when to say “sure” and when pushing a meeting to next week is the best fit. It is not always easy, but if you modify as you go you can get right back on course.
3. You think you are busy now.
I always thought life and work were two separate things and you could leave one behind for the other. For years I strived to leave it that way, but quickly realized my friends, family and passions all bleed together. I started making some subtle changes and learned that Work/Life Balance is Crap! I am now more understanding knowing the two are inseparable and that is perfectly ok.
4. Get less sleep.
This isn’t really so much a suggestion as a reality. I always had worked for companies that put an emphasis on home life being just as important as work. I would always leave at 5pm and I generally wouldn’t touch work on the weekends. Owning my own business and working from home makes it much harder to turn one part of your life off. Many times I end up sleeping in after working really late, working all day, spending several hours with my husband in the evening and then heading back to work from 9pm – 1am (or later). In the long term this isn’t sustainable, but it has really given my business the boost it needed to get started. After 6 months or more of this I knew things had to give. I now know that though sometimes this may be my reality, it doesn't have to be my everyday!
5. Launches need more than 48 hours worth of planning.
I have always been one to do things full force and in a hurry. One Friday afternoon I decided this weekend was the weekend to get my website and blog up and running. I worked all weekend and launched my first post on the first Monday in March (hard to believe the blogiversary is right around the corner). Since then I realized if I had put a little more power behind it I may have had a bigger start. Our most recent launch of took about a month of planning, with hints about the launch coming out the entire time. Much more successful this time around.
6. Stay focused.
You are totally capable of anything you really put your mind to. If you want something bad enough you can figure out a way to make it happen.
7. Create solutions.
Products or services that are just a luxury are hard to sell. Create and emphasize products or services that solve a problem. Anticipate the immediate and future needs of your clients or customers, and pave a path for you to be who they turn to every time.
8. Learn to delegate and play on your strengths.
Graphic Design, Marketing and Strategy are my best skills. The administration part of running a company I find to really bog me down. So instead of fret and waste a ton of valuable time on it I have learned to delegate tasks that don’t play to my strengths. That said, Emylee and I still run the show 100% of the time with the occasionally "husband can you test this link please", "mom can you sign up for this webinar."
9. You need systems in place to streamline your business.
Delegation only goes so far. In order to make our business run full steam ahead 365 days a year we have developed systems that help us get it all done. Systems like our Biz Chic Co-Op worksheets and setting up project management in Wunderlist help us manage daily tasks. We have also streamlined our process by making tools to handle new clients, prospecting, lead generation and more. Once they are in place they are much easier to maintain and manage. No longer are we scrambling to find things. We know where to find things and how to track to keep everything going smoothly.
10. Surround yourself with people you love, trust and are inspired by.
As an entrepreneur it can sometimes feel like a lonely place to be. But we have found that by surrounding ourselves with others who are either in a similar situation or who just genuinely love and encourage us that we have been given the grace, patience and will power to accomplish our goals.
The 411 on Entrepreneurship: 19 Things All First Time Business Owners Need to Know - Tweet That
11. Get out while you can.
Owning a small business is not for everyone. I can’t imagine my life any other way, however, for some of you if you try and find it is not for you, get out while your head is still above water. Know your breaking point and know your boundaries.
12. Take care of yourself.
Sometimes after one too many late nights it is tempting to just skip meals, slack on getting “ready” for the day and push ourselves to the limit. You still have to maintain a happy and healthy life. Get out and exercise. Shower regularly. Get out of bed and put “real” clothes on. Seems simple and ridiculous that I even have to say it. But when you are days deep into a project we sometimes forget we have to take care of ourselves. Just do it and keep doing it.
13. Know your pitch.
Knowing what you do for a living is one thing, but knowing how to vocalize it is a whole other beast. Whether you have 30-seconds or 30-minutes know how to fill that airspace appropriately. I would suggest starting with the steps outlined in Legitimizing Your Online Business.
14. Be impatient.
You can’t rely on the snowball method. If things don’t work quickly, they probably never will. If your product isn’t selling, there is a reason. If you aren’t driving traffic, there is a reason. There are certain things I did at the beginning that I wouldn’t dare do now. Not because they were bad or even that they hurt me, but they didn’t add value. By being impatient and taking valuable knowledge like what posts are driving more traffic on social media, to seeing what is popular on Google Analytics, we have been able to double our site traffic month over month.
15. Obsess over your online presence.
Word of mouth and referrals are wonderful. And they certainly can sustain a business. But if you aren’t building a buzz online, radical growth is way out of sight. Obsess over how you look online - everything from your profile look to the content you are posting. This isn’t just about your business pages, but even personal profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook can potentially have a large impact on your business.
16. Organic growth is necessary.
If your social and online following aren’t growing steadily and organically you probably need to be making adjustments. If you aren’t blogging you need to seriously consider it. Our blog is the single biggest driving force to get people to come back to our website. We have new valuable content 4 days every week.
17. Showcase your passion.
We are passionate about people! At Think Creative Collective, we nurture small businesses and creative entrepreneurs because:
- We believe you have dreams that are worth achieving.
- We believe you should wake up every day empowered to do and be your best.
- We believe your branding and marketing should attract your ideal client or customer in every way.
- We believe you are 100% capable.
- We want you to go after a business and life that you will love.
18. It is SUPER exciting.
You just never know when things will happen. If you focus on creating a quality business, other amazing things will fall into place. People will mention or feature you online! You might have the opportunity to try new things that weren’t previously part of your professional experience, like speaking at the Savvy Business Owners conference. Or amazing people might share their experience with you.
19. Happiness is achievable.
There is no reason to sit at a cubical 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. You have the power to shape your own life and your own business. I have grown to enjoy the crazy, appreciate the unpredictable and treasure my personal relationships. Our business is our own and it is really molded by the people who have become a part of it along the way. And although my personal goal every day is peace, not happiness, this shift in focus has brought so much excitement and enjoyment to my life.
How has entrepreneurship changed you? What sort of challenges are you or have you faced?
We realize that these elements are just pieces of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like getting more sleep or launching we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you inside our free 7-Day Email Course “Spark Your Creativity: 7 Steps to Ignite Your Creative Business”.
Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth. Start your free course today.