There is an endless list of things I wish I knew before starting my business.
Four years ago, I was so fed up with working for someone else, that I was thrilled to be doing my own thing.
Finally, I’ll be in control of my schedule, and how much money I make.
I’ll have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and not have to answer to anybody.
Life will be good again.
And yes, it was, to a certain extent. But along with my newfound freedom, I opened the door to a whole new world of challenges.
Where to focus my energy, how to find clients and make sales, how to know if this is actually going to work and isn’t just a massive waste of my time and my life.
Anyone who has ever started a business has been there.
But wouldn’t it be great if you had someone sharing everything they’ve learned on their journey, so you don’t have to fumble along in the dark or repeat the same mistakes?
Here are 13 things I wish I knew before starting my business four years ago.
1. Invest in yourself & your business.
If there’s an online writing course that is going to make you a better writer; so you can get more freelance writing clients and provide them with more value, take it.
If there’s a candle-making workshop that will show you how to make the best, most luxurious soy wax candles, and help you make more beautiful candles for your customers, do it.
If there’s accounting software that will help you manage your finances more easily, and relieve you of daily/monthly/yearly headaches and stress, buy it.
Even if you don’t own your own business, the best investment you will ever make is you.
That means channeling the money you make back into yourself; through online courses, workshops, retreats, and coaching.
Even if you learn just one new thing, it’s money well spent.
I encourage you to get into this habit today. Book an online course that is relevant to the business you’re running and will elevate your skills.
2. Give yourself permission to fail.
I’ve created countless online products that no one has bought.
I’ve planned to host retreats in the past that nobody has signed up for.
And I’ve walked down several paths in my freelance and business career, only to find I’ve had to turn back around or take a giant step sideways.
What I’m trying to say is, I have failed, many times. And the first time this happens to you in your business will be disheartening, frustrating, and perhaps even embarrassing.
Instead of telling yourself that you’re a fool for thinking you could start and successfully run your own business, remind yourself that failure is inevitable when you’re doing something you’ve never done before.
Failure is how you learn and grow and come back ten times bigger and better than you were before. Our challenges and setbacks in life usually end up being some of our greatest teachers.
What’s important is that you learn the lesson, and you grow from it.
3. Trust your intuition when making small & big decisions.
One of the most important things I wish I knew before starting my business is the power of tuning into and trusting my intuition.
This was actually what led me to quit my job in the first place and start freelance writing. I ignored my inner voice for years, but eventually, she was practically bellowing in my ears on a daily basis.
And I thought to myself, well, you haven’t been listening to your intuition thus far, and look at where it’s got you. You are working a job you hate, which feels like a prison, and you’re not doing what your soul came here to do.
So I decided to do something different, and trust that voice. And it led me on the path to creating a beautiful life I had only ever dreamed of living before. Finally, I was fulfilled, I was excited to begin work each day, and I was able to share my gifts with the world.
And I’ve been tuning into and trusting my intuition ever since. Whether I’m deciding what to eat for lunch, or what new offering to create in my business, or if I should say yes to this collaboration.
Trust that voice. She’s the voice of your soul.
4. Get ready to meet all of yourself.
When most of us work for someone else. we half-ass it.
We do just enough of a good job to not get fired, spend a lot of time checking social media on our phones and ticking off the days praying Friday afternoon will just hurry up already so we can be free.
This just doesn’t cut it when you’re running your own business. If you want to succeed, you will have to be all in, every day, sometimes even on the weekends.
And the reality is, this is uncomfortable for most of us. Because we’re not used to it.
You will be forced to face all your fears, limitations, excuses, procrastinating habits, and mediocre standards; likely on a daily basis. And you will learn to recognize when they’re showing up for you, keeping you playing small, and work through them.
Because you have to. You’re the CEO now, and there’s no one to hide behind.
5. There will be times money just isn’t flowing in.
Maybe you religiously saved money in the months before you left your last job, or you got a business loan or funding, or perhaps you even sold your house.
In other words, you planned ahead to make sure you had enough money to see you and your business through the start-up stage.
But then you realize maybe it’s going to take you longer than you thought to get this business up and running, and turning a profit.
And your savings start to dwindle, and then you worry that you may have to put this on hold and go and get a real job again.
This is beautiful. This is a test from the universe, to see whether you have the courage to keep going, and pursuing your soul work, even when the money isn’t coming and you feel no sense of security.
Keep going. Get a part-time job if you need to. But don’t give up. Because this is your path to financial freedom.
6. Start an email list sooner rather than later.
Setting up my email list three years ago was one of the best things I ever did. Because I’ve been building a relationship with those people ever since.
Relationships really count in business. People tend to buy from people and businesses they align with, and trust. So, it’s up to you to build that trust; and an email list is a great way to do this.
Make sure you’ve got automations set up so that welcome emails automatically go out to all new signs ups.
You may also want to think about producing a weekly newsletter (don’t call it that though) that you send to your list; which includes something of value for them, as well as updates on your new offerings and promotions, etc.
I’ve also learned not to be afraid of clearing out your email list regularly. You don’t want to waste valuable money keeping people on a list who aren’t even opening your emails! Get them outta there.
7. Focus on getting things completed instead of perfect.
Managing my perfectionism is one of the many things I wish I knew before starting my business.
Maybe that text does need to be moved a millimeter to the right, but is it going to make that much of a difference in the long run?
I’ve written and published four books in the last four years, and I’ve learned that so many people dream of writing a book.
What stops them?
They spend days and months trying to get that first sentence or paragraph just right, they struggle, and then they give up completely.
The way I write a book is I just let everything pour out of me onto the page; the good, the not-so-good, and the total crap. Then I come back and edit later. This is how my books get completed.
Focus more on completing things to a good standard, instead of holding out for perfect. Because good is better than not done.
8. Don’t compare yourself to other businesses that are way ahead of you.
I used to waste hours playing the comparison game with my business, which mostly took place on Instagram.
I would see a post with thousands of likes, or an account with hundreds of thousands of followers, and it made me feel disheartened and shitty about the one thousand followers I had.
What is she doing that I am not doing?
I want to be a millionaire NOW!
Asking and answering these questions was a total waste of my precious time and energy. So I learned to limit the possibility of them cropping up. That meant being really conscious about the time I spent on social media, and what I was doing while on there.
I’ve learned now to auto-schedule posts, get on to answer comments, and then leave. I don’t ever check my homepage.
And if I hear about another business that is in a similar space to mine, I forget about what they’re doing now and research their back story.
When they started the business, what they did to get to where they are now, and look for the lessons I can learn from their journey.
Because there will almost always be another successful business out there doing what you want to do; with a bigger following, more customers, and a higher profit.
What they’re doing is none of your business. You’re on your own journey here.
9. Devote your time to doing things that will bring you the most value.
In my early days, I would spend hours tweaking the colors and fonts on my website, creating beautiful graphics for social media, and making sure everything looked pretty.
Did this bring me more customers and money?
This is a perfect example of wasting your time on things that aren’t doing anything to help your business grow.
Once I understood this, I focused on what would help my business grow.
So I started cold-emailing businesses to offer my freelance writing service. And today with She Rose Revolution, I scout the internet for writers who I think would be great for our platform, and email them.
Yes, I make sure the website is running well and looks good, but this doesn’t get more of my time than it deserves.
When you run a business, you need to focus on creating value for your customer and deliver and sell it to them. How pretty your logo is means NOTHING if you’re not making any money!
10. Things I wish I knew before starting my business: Do one thing really well.
There are endless strategies to create a business and make money:
- Create an online store and sell your own products or services
- Be a drop-shipper and sell other people’s products
- Become a network marketer
- Create your own blog and build content
- Start a podcast or a vlog
- Focus on hosting in-person retreats or workshops, or teaching classes
Individually, these are all brilliant strategies. But trying to do too many at once is where so many business owners go wrong.
There may be people out there telling you you need to be everywhere and be doing everything, but this is not practical or realistic. There are only so many hours in the day, and trust me when I say trying to master everything at once will lead to overwhelm.
So think about your unique strengths, then focus on a strategy that plays into these.
I wasted time creating video content and lots of posts for Instagram, even though I don’t like being in front of the camera, and I don’t enjoy being on social media; plus, I’m not very good at either!
You know what I am great at? Writing. So that’s what I’ve been focusing on for the past two years.
Choose a business model that utilizes your strengths, and dedicate real time and energy to it.
This is your best chance of success.
11. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself & your products/services.
Like many people, I used to feel uncomfortable with the idea of “selling myself.”
I didn’t want to become a sleazy salesman, in fact, I was adamant I wouldn’t do it.
I was literally cutting off the hand that would feed me and my business before I’d even looked at it.
But if you don’t sell your products and services, nobody will know they exist, and you won’t make any money; which means you do not have a business.
This is perhaps one of the most critical things I wish I knew before starting my business.
Get comfortable with promoting your business, and selling to people. You can do it however you like— the hard-sell or soulfully—but it’s vital that you do it.
They say that on average, someone needs to see your offering seven times before they buy from you. And if you back yourself and your products, then you should have no problem promoting their value to other people.
People need what you are selling, so offer it to them.
12. You need to take a break from your business, otherwise, you will burn out.
It’s common for me to work 16 hour days and the majority of my weekends. And this shouldn’t feel like a chore if you genuinely love the work you’re doing, and the business you’re building.
That being said, it is important to relax and rest and refill your well. Because if you don’t, you will eventually become overwhelmed and exhausted, and burn out.
This happened to me last year. I had been go go go the year before, trying to manage all social media platforms, write another book, sell my coaching services, my digital offerings, as well as my retreats.
And what hit me was a severe case of writer’s block. I would sit for hours and stare at a blank screen. I wondered if I’d already written everything I have to say, and that maybe there wasn’t anything left? And I felt incredibly uninspired and unmotivated.
I had to re-assess where I was focusing my energy, and how I could find more harmony in my daily life.
Now, I make sure I meditate first thing when I wake up. I take breaks to eat away from my desk and prepare nourishing meals. I create space for creative time, and to read inspirational books. And I make sure I take an hour each day for exercise, whether it’s yoga, swimming, or going for a walk. If I feel particularly stressed, I’ll get up and do something else, and return to it later. Friday evenings, I enjoy a ritual of doing a face mask, then sharing a delicious pizza (and maybe a glass of wine) with my partner. Sundays, I try and run a bath for myself, and also paint my nails, so I feel rested and pampered ahead of the new week.
On their own, these are small things. But they keep my energy topped up, and help me feel nourished.
13. Enjoy the process.
Finally, when it comes to things I wish I knew before starting my business, it’s that yes, it will be fucking hard a lot of the time, but you have to try and enjoy the journey.
That means the early mornings and late nights, the huge obstacles that are thrown your way, learning to do things you’ve never done before, keeping yourself inspired and motivated, and wearing ten different hats each day.
Because this is all a part of the process of building a business. Nobody said it would be the easiest path to take, but there’s a good chance it will be the most rewarding one; if you’re willing to see it through.
This is meant to be fun. If it’s not, then you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth devoting all your time, energy, and money to.
So if this is what truly want in your heart, then focus on making it as enjoyable as possible.
Get up, blast your favorite song, and do a dance every time you make a sale or get a new client. Give yourself a little treat when you accomplish a goal. Go for dreaming dates with someone who also runs their own business, and write down the biggest things you’d each like to accomplish. Make time to connect with people you love. Surround yourself with inspiring, successful people, who make you want to up your game. Try out a co-working space if you’re feeling isolated working from home all the time. Laugh when something doesn’t go the way you planned, because chances are, in a year from now, this won’t matter at all.
Enjoy it, all of it, because you’ll never get this moment back again.