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, digging deep, and trying it out for yourself. We have learned so much even in the last year or so 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!
Seriously. You’re never going to be ready. There is no magical “ding” of readiness that’s around the corner. You just have to dive in and do it. Ask for support, ask for encouragement. Surround yourself with people who “get it” and can cheer you on. If you’ve got any Negative Nancys in your life cut them out. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Things will be weird at first. You will go through the stages of “what the eff am I doing??”. That’s normal.
2. It is a little bit unpredictable.
A “little” might be the understatement of the century. We could have our days totally planned out and by mid-morning they may be rocketing along in a totally new direction. We’ve learned to be flexible, but know our limits. We 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.
We always thought that life and work were two separate things and that you could leave one behind for the other. For years we tried to do it that way, but quickly realized that our friends, family, and passions all bleed together. We started to make some subtle changes and learned that Work/Life Balance is Crap! Both of us now understand that the two are inseparable, and that is perfectly ok.
4. You're going to get less sleep.
You're lucky if you work for a company that puts an emphasis on home life being just as important as work. You might be able to leave at 5:00 pm and generally not touch work on the weekends. Owning your own business and working from home makes it much harder to turn one part of your life off.
Many times we end up sleeping in after working really late, working all day, spending several hours with our families in the evening and then heading back to work from 9:00 pm – 1:00 am (or later). In the long term this isn’t sustainable, but it has really given our business the boost it needed to get started. After 6 months or more of this, however, we knew things had to give. Now, we know that though sometimes this may be our reality, it doesn't have to be our everyday!
5. Launches need more than 48 hours worth of planning.
We’ve always been the kind of people who do things full force and in a hurry. One Friday afternoon Abagail decided that the coming weekend was the weekend to get THIS website and blog up and running. She worked all weekend and launched her first post on the first Monday of March 2015. Since then she’s realized that if she had put a little more power behind it, she may have had a bigger start. Our most recent launch took about a month of planning, with hints about the launch coming out the entire time. It was 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 luxuries 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 then pave a path for you to be who they can turn to every time.
8. Learn to delegate and play on your strengths.
Graphic Design, marketing and strategy are Abagail’s best skills. Photography, sassy writing and planning are Emylee's best skills. The administration part of running a company can really bog us down. So instead of fretting and wasting a ton of valuable time on it we have learned to delegate tasks that don’t play to our strengths. That said, we still run the show 100% of the time (with the occasional "husband, can you test this link please?", or "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 Trello help us manage daily tasks. We have also streamlined our process by making tools to better organize content creation, launching, lead generation and more. Once they are in place they are much easier to maintain and manage. We no longer scramble to find things.
10. Surround yourself with people you love, trust and are inspired by.
As an entrepreneur it can sometimes feel like you’re in a lonely place. 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 the willpower to accomplish our goals. If you still need a place that loves on you, we'd love to have you join our private community (no opt-in required).
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. We can’t imagine my life any other way. However, if you 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 just to 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 on “real” clothes. It seems simple and ridiculous that we 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 - make it a non-negotiable.
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. We 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 that we did at the beginning that we wouldn’t dare do now. Not because they were bad or even that they hurt us, but they didn’t add value. By being impatient and looking at valuable statistics 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 three times a 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 you have something amazing to share with the world;
- We believe you are 100% capable, and
- 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. You never know what may happen on any given day as an entrepreneur!
19. Happiness is achievable.
There is no reason to sit at a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. You have the power to shape your own life and your own business. We have grown to enjoy the crazy, appreciate the unpredictable and treasure our 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 our personal goal every day is peace, not happiness, this shift in focus has brought so much excitement and enjoyment to our lives.
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.