Let me just say right off the bat that I am not a pro in Entrepreneurship (I don't think anybody really is - there's always more to learn!), as I am only 18 months or so into being a Business Owner. That being said, I have some advice for the person reading this who wants to start their own business.
1. Have an Emergency Savings Account
I launched my business, and my very first client nearly replaced my whole month's income I was making in my 9-5 I had before. I had her sign a 3-month contract and we were off to the races. Life was good. That is, until halfway through our contract, she e-mailed me saying she was ending our working relationship together effective immediately. Just like that. Done. I had no notice or suspicion that she was considering making this bold move. Now at the time, I was completely devastated and embarrassed. I felt like a failure right off the bat. I didn't have anything in savings to protect us from my income being taken away suddenly, and it was a stressful time. The happy end to this story is that I was able to make most of that money back with a few new clients the following month (whew!), but I learnt right away that contracts aren't honoured all of the time, and your income can drastically change in the time it takes you to open one e-mail. Prepare for the worst, and have some money in a Savings Account "just in case".
2. Put Money Aside For Taxes From EACH PAID INVOICE
Oh, heaven hear me now. This one is huge. There's no avoiding it, now that you are a Business Owner, you are responsible for paying your taxes without it being deducted by your employer automatically (and don't even think about trying to get around this and not pay your taxes). It's my least favourite thing about getting paid - putting money aside to pay The Tax Man. Want to know a secret? I didn't do this for my first year. I started to, but then I dabbled into that account for whatever reason (after promising myself I would replenish those funds and then some...but that didn't happen) and then I was hit with a bill for a few thousand dollars when tax time came around. Again, another lesson learned.
3. Rome Was Not Built In a Day, Friend
If you're anything like me, you follow the journey of the top Entrepreneurs in your field and you see the kind of stuff they put out and you think "I can do that". And YOU CAN. There's no reason that you can't. But you also need to be realistic and understand that it will not happen overnight. I am probably going against other advice that is out there but hear me out: it takes time to build a business. Everywhere you look, you hear all sorts of things you should be doing:
"You NEED a website" <-- no you don't.
"Post in 5 different Facebook Groups 3x a day to get visible"<-- who has time to do that?
"Make an e-mail list"<-- a good idea, actually.
"Make a Facebook business page and invite all of your Friends to it!"<-- don't invite ALL your Friends. Annoying.
"Keep your Instagram updated and make sure to engage with other people!" <-- can't disagree
"Exercise is important, make sure to make time for YOU" <-- haha, yeah. okay.
"Take courses and educate yourself. It takes money to make money!" <-- truth.
"Learn how to make Facebook Ads, your business will take off if you add this to your services!" <-- this along with every other skill will "boost your business!"
"Don't work too much though - your kids need attention and will resent you" <-- thanks for the mom guilt, people. that's great.
O...M...G... stop. Just - stop.
Let things come in time. You can only do so much. If you have the resources to hire help, by all means, do it. But if not, screw what everybody says and just take it one thing at a time. Which brings me to my next point...
4. Don't Listen To Everybody's Advice
I was one of the lucky ones who had a friend/mentor as I started my business. I had previously dabbled in the MLM world trying to make cash as a Coach for a Fitness Company, but when that wasn't working (for oh so many reasons), I had the assistance of a friend who took me under her wing and helped me launch my VA business. I am forever grateful for that experience as, without her, I would have been overwhelmed (more than I already was).
Even with having a mentor by my side for the beginning, I was constantly slammed with pieces of advice that varied from business to parenting. Everybody was happy to tell me what I should be doing. As someone new to the Entrepreneur world, I thought that they must know more than I do, and I should listen to them as they clearly care so much.... - stop. No. The second you let people get in your head without asking them specifically for their input is where things will start to go sideways, and our old buddy Self Doubt will make an unwanted appearance into your life. Nobody likes Self Doubt. Go away.
Make a plan, and stick to it. If you need help building a plan, reach out to someone who offers consulting and/or brainstorming as part of their service (*ahem*, me) to help you! Ask people who know the industry and have gone through it themselves. Honestly, nobody else really knows what they are talking about.
5. Don't Be a Jack-Of-All-Trades
Just the other day, someone messaged me on Facebook and asked me if I could help them with their business as their VA. I happily responded saying I would love to chat more and asked specifically what they needed help with. She mentioned a program that I knew nothing about - and when I told her I hadn't heard of it, she blocked me instantly.
This goes to show that you can't know everything out there. Find your niche and your ideal market and STICK TO IT. Become the pro in that field. Train to be the go-to person for that specific thing.
You can't and shouldn't offer everything under the sun.
Well, there you have it!
I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about taking the plunge into Business Ownership. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. If you want to make sure to not miss any future posts, click the button below to sign up to be notified via e-mail when a blog post goes live <3