You might or might not know that this is not my first business. Nope. I’ve been in business since ehm let me think… 2007. It’s when I first started blogging and experimenting with textile design. My first (and most others too) business started quite organically and before I knew it, I had started a second business with two of my friends. Whilst I’ve been involved with a few businesses now, I’m by no means a pro and there’s always something to learn but I wanted to share 5 things with you today that I wish I’d known when I started. Hopefully it helps you get started.
1. Be clear about about WHY you’re starting a business
As I said before, my first (and most others too) business started quite organically and by that I mean that I literally rolled into it as I started experimenting with pattern design and then started documenting my creative endeavours by writing about it on my blog. I didn’t intend to start a business but I loved what I was doing so much and the response I received from people was so positive that I started printing my patterns on fabric and voila, my business was born. Something similar happened with my current business, where many of my friends with businesses asked me for help and I love it so much and it was so aligned to what I was doing in my ‘corporate’ role that I rolled into helping lovely people with their marketing and social media. It’s a business that’s born out of love and passion for helping people with social media. Be clear about why you’re starting a business.
2. Take time off and unplug
When starting or running a business you often get so involved in it because you’re doing what you love doing. I’m not sure if you’re anything like me, but work doesn’t feel like work and I often loose track of time. Luckily I discovered early on that time-out is absolutely essential, not just for your well being but also for the longevity of your business. You need time to recharge, take a step away and look at things with fresh eyes. Not only that, you also need to get away and have a life. There’s more to this world than running your business (although it might not feel that way at times). I find that I need to get out every day, so we take the dogs for an hour long walk each day. We also often go on road-trips or camping trips to get away from the hustle and bustle. Unplugging and taking a technology detox are a must, so plan some ‘zen’ time and get away from it all.
3. Working from home takes immense focus
As lovely as it sounds to be able to have long sleep-ins, work in your pj’s and have virtually no commute to your desk, working from home isn’t necessarily all that it’s made out to be. Whilst I love working from home, it does take immense focus and discipline. When working from home everyone seems to think that you’re at home doing nothing and they can drop in whenever they want. Ehm, no I am actually working and I’ve definitely had to set boundaries of when I catch up with friends and when I take deliveries etc. I’ve also had to be firm and literally kick the dogs out when they start annoying me or they get too vocal. Sorry boys, the yard is a beautiful place for you.
I’ve found that I work best in the morning and late afternoon so I plan my productive time around that and work to my strengths. The other time is filled with things I love doing (like seeing my kinesiologist) or tasks that require less of my brain.
4. Ask for help
When you start your journey of building a business it can be quite daunting to ask for help, especially when looking at your ‘idols’ who seem to have the perfect business. We often forget that these people have been hustling for much longer so naturally they’re ahead. I’ve found that asking for help is the best way to move forward and grow your business at a faster pace. There’s no need to figure it all out by yourself or to learn from books or go to university. Ask someone who’s one or a few steps ahead of you, get a business coach or join a mastermind, there is seriously no better way to learn and at the same time build your networks.
5. Marketing is essential
Ok, this might be totally expected but marketing is essential. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t tell anyone about it you won’t sell a thing. You see, a lot of people get a bit icky when the word marketing is mentioned but all marketing means is ‘to tell your story’. If you can think of it that way it doesn’t sound too bad does it? So you have to tell your story, and doing it in an authentic way rather than a sales-y way often resonates better with your audience and it will feel less icky. So, go tell your story. Tell people why you love what you do and why it will make their lives better too!