Starting a Business
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Own Business
In 2014, I launched a Social Media Marketing business. Being only 22 years old at the time, there were plenty of obstacles I had to overcome and many things I know now that I wish I knew then. Prior to starting my own business, I worked in a very corporate environment in a marketing position, often putting in 60-70 hours a week, which included weekends. I ultimately lived and breathed a career that felt like I was owned and controlled by. During that time, I often felt I wanted to do things differently, but when you work for someone, you have to do things the way they want you to. I found myself craving freedom -- I wanted to create something from the ground up and be in charge of all aspects of its operation.
The past few years have been amazing, and they have allowed me to meet so many other business women and entrepreneurs -- so many have inspired me. We love to support each other with our endeavors and challenges. If you have ever wanted to branch out on your own and start a business, I can tell you there is nothing more gratifying. There is nothing better than working hard to fulfill your own dreams -- not the dreams of someone else.
Here are my top 5 things I wish someone had told me before starting my own business:
1. Network. Network. Network. This may seem obvious when you are in the beginning stages of starting and running a business, but sometimes you are so overwhelmed with all of the other things that go along with running a business, you forget the most important thing -- clients and customers. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and begin meeting like-minded people who are interested in growing their networks as well. Invite people out for coffee, play with the idea of collaborating on projects, and ALWAYS bring plenty of business cards.
2. Invest in your website. Websites are absolutely critical these days, almost more so than having a business card. Your website acts as your own personal billboard and should reflect you and your business in every way. If you pay someone to do it, here is valuable advice: have them teach you to update it/add new content yourself. You don’t want it to become outdated or contain faulty information, and you’ll save money by knowing how to make changed and add new content yourself.
3. Surround yourself with people who understand this is your dream, your once-in-a-lifetime chance to be your own boss and do what so many people only dream of. If your friends or loved ones don’t get that, they’ll never understand why you work the long hours, haven’t taken a vacation in years, and why this is the one thing you can’t seem to stop talking about. Though it is not easy, try to find and surround yourself with people who are veterans in business. People who are much bigger and more successful than you (even people that you may consider a competitor!) There is so much to learn from people who have years of wisdom and experience under their belt, and these are the people who will be great mentors and friends. You will also learn who your true friends are based on who supports you and your dream.
4. Love your brand and be your brand. Branding can have so many different meanings but here I am talking about your logo, the name of your business, company motto, etc. It is so important to figure out what your all around brand is first before launching your business. Don’t let the over-excitement for your launch make you quickly and irrationally pick something for the sake of putting yourself out there to start generating business. It’s all about strategy and truly loving every aspect of your brand. If you don’t love it right out of the gate, you’ll never truly be confident in you or your business; and once you start getting busy with customers or clients, it’s hard to find the time to go back and rebrand.
5. Set clear boundaries when it comes to working with friends/family members. I learned this very early on, and it was a tough lesson. Many clients might become your friends, but that is easier to manage than juggling discussing your fees with someone you are close to. On that note, always have a clear, written contracts/agreements with your clients to protect yourself.