Starting a business is exciting–and the most frightening thing ever.
I’ll be honest. I’ve started more businesses that I’d care to admit. If I were to compare it to anything, I would say it’s a lot like swimming in a muddy lake. You’re only able to see a few feet in front you, you don’t know if you’re going to step on something sharp or swim into rock until it’s right on you. With that said, the longer that I’ve been an entrepreneur, the better I can navigate through this murky water.
I’ve been doing business for over a decade now, and I thought I would boil down 4 keys I wish I would have known before I started my entrepreneur journey.
1. Don’t Stress Over Finding Clients
Like anyone who starts a business, my thought was that I HAVE to find people to pay me. Immediately! I spent my first months in business wondering how I was going to get someone to actually pay an invoice. Once I found my first couple of clients I thought that feeling would go away, but it didn’t. Just like any other freelancer, I realized that I was going to eventually run out of clients.
I always worrying about that NEXT client. How was that next client going to find me? How was I going to fix that next client. What I should have been worry about was a PROCESS on HOW to get that next client. I was running around blindly without any sort of plan on how to proceed.
In turn, I kept freaking out about finally running out of clients. I let this fear rule my life. It interfered with how I treated others, including my clients. If I had simply taken the time to create a plan of action with actionable steps, I would have saved myself some anxiety attacks.
2. Who You Are Matters More
When I first created my business, I bought into the lie that I had to present myself as a big corporation. I created this facade that I was bigger than I was. Now, I am a total believer in the “fake it till you make it” theory, but where I failed was thinking that people didn’t want to do business with me.
Most of the people I worked with cared more about the type of person I was, and less about how many years I had been in the business. People were more willing to pay me more just because they liked who I was as a person.
When I started offering an experience rather than a service, that’s when things changed for me.
3. Don’t Be Silent
We live in a world where everyone thinks they are an expert at everything. Infact, some previous clients that I have would hire me and then tell me how to do my job. At first, I would listen and nod my head as they explained that they know best and they only need me to simply get the job done.
That’s when I realized something. They HIRED ME. They decided to pay me because supposedly I was the so called expert. So… it was time to start acting like one.
I’ve been in many situations like this, and what I’ve discovered is that the client is rarely knows what they really want. The’ve heard something shiny and loud and are simply repeating what they’ve heard or have been shown.
In business, having a unique voice is essential.
This sets you apart from the rest of the people who just simply conform. When you finally speak up and give them insight into their project, they will take notice of you. It also communicates to your customers that you can’t simply be bought and that your services are the only thing for sale.
4. It Will Feel Lonely.
Being a business owner – an online business owner – can be lonely. Loneliness and alienation are real problems when you enter the world of entrepreneurship.
I’ve been through several bouts of depression, self-hate, and anger when my business is failing or when it’s doing well. Sometimes it just feels like there is no-one else in that space that is struggling with the same problems.
It’s not like I could put a status on Facebook or Twitter that I’m having a hard time.
I don’t want to be that guy.
So normally, I just pretend everything is ok and let it bottle up inside.
Then I discovered that I wasn’t alone in this journey. That there are countless Facebook groups, meet ups in my city, and mastermind groups that I could join. The same applies to you!
I wish I would have known that I didn’t have to deal with my business issues alone, and that there are plenty of communities both online and off that will help you battle through the good and bad times.
So what questions do you have about starting your own business? I’ll be answering every comment on this page!