Welcome to part two of - What I wish I’d known when I started my first business (you can find Part 1 here) when I started writing the original blog post, I didn’t realise how many things there were that I wish I had known! I thought it best to divide the post into two, more digestible chunks.
Here we go!
I can hold my hands up and say I didn’t do this for the first 3 years of running my business. I just went with the flow, saw what happened and reacted accordingly. Sometimes this strategy works, you can’t plan for EVERY eventuality, but it was when I set clear goals that my business really started to change. Goals give you focus, milestones to hit and keep you accountable when you don’t have a boss or colleagues around. Start small and set goals for 3 months down the line, see how you get on.
You can turn ‘opportunities’ down
Again, this was something I didn’t even comprehend. I felt the pressure of earning, and felt I couldn’t turn down any offer ‘just in case’ it turned out to be a big opportunity.
Give away 250 free products?
Go on then, they might be posted by influential people.
Asked to speak at seminars, events, schools, Universities and podcasts?
I’m sure I can fit them in, who cares who the audience is!
Pay £500 for 1 inch of advertising space in a magazine that isn’t my target audience?
Okay yes, it is a big name after all!
I burnt myself out saying yes to everything, not forgetting spending a lot of money on ‘opportunities’ I was worried about missing. Over time I realised it was okay to say no and turn things down. Perhaps the potential client in question doesn’t align with your goals or values, maybe it’s not right for your business right now or perhaps you’re not going to see a big enough return to make it worth while. Listen to your instincts, they’re not often wrong.
Busy doesn’t = Productive
I was personally very guilty of this, especially in the early days, I could tear my hair out screaming, ‘I’m so busy! I just don’t know what to do with myself’, but was I? When I got to know other business owners better and saw how they worked, I realised much of what I did was non-essential.
I was a procrastinator, filling my time with small jobs, which although great, were time consuming and weren’t doing much to actually further my business. Busy doesn’t always equal productive. Know the difference. Catch yourself procrastinating with little jobs and avoiding the essential big ones? Take a break, have a breather and come back to it with a fresh head. Sometimes procrastinating is a sign that you need to stop, rather than waste time being unproductive.
Things take time
I’ll never forget the day my first business launched, at midnight on a Saturday night (why I thought this was a good idea, I don’t know). My brother had spent weeks building my first website, I had spent 28 days crowdfunding and months sourcing product, packaging and marketing materials. 1000 notebooks had landed in my parent’s dining room the day before and I was ready to go! As I clicked PUBLISH on the website, I turned to my Mum and said, “Mum, imagine if I sell out straight away… what am I going to do?! How will I get new stock in time.” I launched the site and sat back ready to watch the orders roll on in.
One week after launching and I had yet to sell a single thing. A month on and it was just friends and family who’d parted with their cash to buy from my website. Safe to say I felt pretty gutted and had completely over estimated the speed at which my sales would pick up.
(side note: A couple months later, after a lot of outreach, marketing and PR efforts, a well known blogger showcased her notebook, and the rest is history)
These things take time. It is SO rare that ‘overnight success’ occurs. As a consumer what you don’t see are the hours of blood, sweat and tears that go into making a business a ‘success’. If your products don’t sell out or your course isn’t booked up within hours, don’t beat yourself up. Set realistic goals and expectations and don’t be hard on yourself.
I’d love to know if there is anything you’d wished you had known before starting? Even a couple months into running your business, you could have a list as long as your arm!
Has this helped identify some areas you’d like more help or support in or would you like to chat through your specific circumstances further?