Today marks six months since I officially flung open the doors on my business and started working full time as a small business copywriter.
And what a ride it’s been!
I’d love to say that it’s all been great, but the reality is that some things haven’t turned out like I thought they would.
But, I have figured out a lot of important stuff about my biz and myself in that time, and had some amazing wins (sometimes unexpectedly).
This week, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned so far in my business. Enjoy!
(Nearly) Everything You Do is An Experiment
I spent a lot of time in the early stages of my business obsessing over the right way to do things. Like, should I call prospects or email them? Should I list my prices on my website, or not?
The beauty of running your own biz is you get to decide on these things. That’s also the sucky bit – you can get bogged down in choosing.
I’ve learned that there isn’t really a right way to do anything. You just need to decide on something, and then take action. If it doesn’t work out, well, you can always change it later.
Look Up to Others (But Tread Your Own Path)
Again, lots of my early stages of my business were spent stalking researching other writers and figuring out how I could replicate their success.
Look, it’s important to know what other people in your industry are doing. It’s definitely helped me with things like figuring out my pricing, and considering what services to offer.
But worrying about what your “competitors” are doing is just time wasted. Instead, you need to focus on what you offer to your ideal clients and how you can best serve them.
Working by Myself All Day is H.A.R.D
Before I quit my job, I had a lot of notions about what it would be like to run my business full time. I envisioned morning yoga sessions, making healthy salads for lunch and hours spent each day in focused writing.
Spoiler Alert: None of this has actually happened.
I’ve realised that being by myself all day is pretty boring. I really miss the camaraderie that comes with working alongside other people. Alone, I catch myself wandering from room to room or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
To combat this (and prevent a Jack Torrance-style breakdown), I’m going to start working from a co-working space two days per week, starting in January. I’ve found a lovely space just near me, and I’m looking forward to some daily interaction and office banter. Because all work and no play, etc…
Invest in Your Business (and Yourself)
Look, I didn’t kid myself when I first launched that I knew everything (or even most things) that came with running a business. One thing I really struggled with was marketing, so I made the *ahem* brilliant decision to join a marketing /biz group called the League of Business Baddasses.
Yes it was a decent chunk of money for my small biz. But it was so worth it. Not just for the information and guidance I got, but also being able to ask questions, share ideas and celebrate successes alongside a group of other similarly-minded biz ladies. So far, it’s the best investment I’ve made – man, I’m so smart…
Nothing Beats Real Life Connections
When I first started, I assumed that most of my marketing and client communication would be online. But I’ve found that the greatest things have happened from actually putting on a bra and leaving the house.
I honestly believe that nothing can beat the interaction you get from meeting someone face-to-face (perhaps over a cheese platter). The past six months all my best projects, ideas and connections have come from networking events and meeting people for coffee.
If you’re starting out, or even if you’ve been in business for a while, I massively recommend you make time to get outside and speak to people IRL.
Budgeting is Super Important
You know this right? Seriously though, when you start out you will likely overestimate how much income will come in and underestimate your expenses. Things will break down. Clients will be slow paying.
Having a budget has totally saved my sanity (and also my bank account). Sure, things were tight (no bath tubs full of cash here). But if I started panicking about whether I could buy groceries this week, I just went back to my spreadsheet and the numbers reassured me.
You don’t even have to get fancy with your budget. Excel will be your friend. Just start one and stop stressing.
Celebrate the Wins (No Matter How Small)
When I launched my business in June, I threw a party and invited a bunch of people along. Sure, it wasn’t anything big and fancy. But heck, I’d quit my job and was going out on my own. If that’s not worth sharing a drink over, then I don’t know what is.
I also literally did a dance around my study when I got my first client. I actually still do a little wiggle when I sign on someone new. Because, those things matter.
Don’t wait for the big events (first $10k month, national client, radio mention) to pat yourself on the back. Every day you wake up and turn on your computer is something to be celebrated. Because, you are awesome! And you got this.
What have you learned when it comes to running your own business? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your experiences.
PS If you’re thinking about starting your own business, and are getting a little stuck, then you should know that I’m launching a course in 2015 all about how to build your business the right way. To be the first to know when it comes out, be sure to sign up for my email list.
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