1 year ago, I launched a business. One of the best decisions of my life also quickly became one of the most difficult, too. I've gathered plenty of lessons learned since launching a business and I don't see that stopping anytime soon!
ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP
Yes, I'm talking about money. My greatest mentor always stresses to me that you absolutely need a backup or "emergency fund" just in case a client bails, doesn't pay on time or work is just slower that month. The last thing you want is to be short paying the bills!
Take out a separate savings account OR register a business account with your bank to help you receive all income there, easing your whole accounting process. Make sure this savings portion is is untouchable - perhaps put a lock on it!
OPT FOR EMPLOYMENT THE FIRST YEAR
Not joking! Another solid backup plan is to have a job on the side as you dive into your business the first year. I'm still working with the communications department at a local museum while my business grows.
Make sure that you're being transparent and open with your supervisor as soon as you get hired. This isn't your only means of income, you don't envision yourself staying there forever and you can only work X amount of hours each day. I was lucky to find a temporary, part-time position (that was actually created for me) where they accept and encourage my goals.
BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT YOUR ABILITIES
This is one of the greatest pieces of advice I can share. Being transparent about my skills and offerings is what has brought me success, I guarantee you. Similar to this blog, Fashionably Frank, my business (Fashionably Frank Marketing) emphasizes being honest, or "frank" as its highest principle.
If I don't offer any training or focus in a particular skillset, I'm enthusiastic about making sure this is unknown so my leads don't waste their time. Ensuring that these disclaimers are on your website is essential, too. Highlight what you offer and nothing more.
KEEP YOUR MENTORS CLOSE
And don't burn any bridges! I found many of my mentors through internships in college, but I actually met my greatest mentor (mentioned above) on Twitter! Once I had these mentors, I was steadfast in strengthening these relationships (or at least not pushing them away).
The amount of referrals and leads I've received from my mentors is incredible. I'd say probably 50% of my opportunities come from mentors' word of mouth! Equally important, how much you can personally learn from having mentors is irreplaceable.
FOREVER KEEP LEARNING
I could say this a gazillion times: I'm a huge supporter of lifelong learning! I always make it a priority to join Twitter chats, webinars that could continue my education and invest in courses/workshops with the best and brightest.
There's a ton of free YouTube videos and podcasts for your niche. Dive in and keep learning!
While being honest about your services is one thing, taking risks and going outside of your comfort zone is also necessary. Go to networking events, take on a larger client that you're timid around, the list goes on!
I often find that I don't take risks because of my fear or my lack of self belief that I'm good enough. I've spoken a bit about "imposter syndrome" on my business Instagram. This is the mindset that most new business owners experience when they first launch and try to feel out their worth to gain their grounding. They can feel as though they don't deserve their success or someone will suddenly "discover their lack of worth" and will be exposed as being less skilled than they once thought.
Reminding yourself that you're not the only person experiencing these struggles may be of service to your self-confidence. As a mentor of mine taught me: "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." (~Jack Canfield)
LOOK + ACT THE PART
Now, I don't mean that you can't tweet funny things or write a political blog post, but general rules of thumb would suggest somewhat of a filter on social media if you wish to attract paying clients. Side note, however: being more open with your true beliefs and personality may be helpful in the long run, ensuring you don't attract clients who disagree with your mission and values.
You can say, "It's just business," but I'll be real: I almost hired a CPA until I noticed his pro-Trump, anti-liberal propaganda on his public Facebook posts ;) Just sayin'! Nobody needs to hire you, especially if your values are the opposite of theirs.
But all joking aside: it's more vital that your website presents you well, with grace and competency. This means avoiding blatant spelling mistakes and practicing what you preach within your niche (for example: I utilize my marketing expertise to grow my own blog, email list and websites' copy in general, and this is apparent).
It's safe to say that I've learned a lot this past year since launching my biz.
Are you just starting out, or do you have a lesson or two to share, too!?
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BLOGGER: KATHRYN COFFMAN
Kathryn is the lead contributor + founder at FashionablyFrank.com. Obsessed with leading a life of balance, she started the blog in 2013. Since graduating from The Evergreen State College (Washington) in 2016, she is now a digital marketing specialist through her business, Fashionably Frank Marketing. She believes a cup of coffee is the answer to all of life's problems + that all women should strive to embrace a #girlboss mantra.