A few months ago I wrote a blog post – 4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Freelance. It in no way went viral, but it’s my most successful post by far. I’ve been in business for myself for less than a year and there are people who have experiences starting a business that I don’t have. I got to wondering what types of things they wish they knew before starting to work for themselves. So I asked some of them! Here’s some of the advice and lessons I got from people who are making it doing things their way.
Get Ready to Change Your Mindset
The big thing that I wish I’d have known, is that there is more soul-searching and self-improvement involved in starting up and running my business. I’m an introvert by nature. So to be successful, I could no longer use that as an excuse to keep from learning how to market myself and get myself out to the right audience. Running a business has required that I change my mindset drastically. It can still be difficult at times, but changing my perspective has made taking a rejection from a Client as an opportunity for growth, instead of shutting my business down. I wish that I had known (and truly believed!) that I am in control would have led me to success a lot sooner.
Build Yourself a Support System
The one thing I wish I knew before I ventured out on my own is how lonely it can be. Being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is an amazing feeling but it does get lonely. You don’t have a gaggle of co-workers to chat with you and there really isn’t anyone who can share in your successes. My solution to that? Build a tribe! Join Facebook groups and find like-minded individuals to connect with. Having those Business Besties really does add a lot of value to your business plus it’s nice to have that group of people who understand your vents and can appreciate your successes!
Remember To Be Yourself
I wish someone told me how important it is to be myself in my business. In the beginning, I got so overwhelmed by strategy, that I forgot to speak, write, dress, and move like myself. I’ve realized that you can have a bullet-proof marketing plan but at the end of the day, my clients are attracted to ME. My personal style and sense of humor connect me to my ideal people and repels clients who wouldn’t be a good fit.
Lily A. Calfee is a women’s creative health coach at Ideal Nourishment, helping women create a peaceful, easy relationship with food. Follow her on Facebook!
Don’t Let Fear Stop You
I wish I knew to start before I was ready. I delayed in starting my business because I thought I needed to know “everything”. And what I’ve learned is entrepreneurship doesn’t work that way. The truth is you’ll never be ready. In order to achieve success, you must be open to exploring the unknown and let go of the need for everything to go as planned. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared but don’t allow it to hinder you from doing the work and trusting the process.
Don’t Give Up
I wish I had known sooner that I’d love it so much! Fear is a powerful thing. And while I won’t say every day isn’t a challenge, it’s very rewarding to fight every day for a passion and concept I believe in. To know we help inspire others to live a healthier, more fulfilling life is worth more to us than monetary currency. My advice would be to allow more time for your idea to grow to fruition. When you feel like giving up, don’t. That’s usually right when things are just about to take off.
Build Your Foundation First
When you’re starting out your singular focus should be having enough work to put food on the table and pay your bills. I felt like I was running a 3 ring circus by trying to “do it all” right from the beginning. Build a solid base, then you can take over the world!
Treat Your Business Like a Business
Although I felt prepared when I launched my company 12 years ago, I later discovered my business knowledge was definitely lacking. There are a lot of specific, tactical things I could share, but I’d say more than anything I wish I had known to treat my business like a business. Instead, I thought of myself as a freelancer who just did some writing for people. I didn’t consider myself a small business owner and, as such, didn’t do a lot of the operational things I should have (such as setting up an LLC or hiring a CPA) nor did I demand the respect I deserved from my clients, friends, and family. My advice to any new entrepreneur is to treat your business as a business and yourself as a business owner. It’s a subtle mindset shift that can make a huge difference.
Push Through, No Matter What!
Oh gosh, where to start! If I had to narrow it down to one thing I wish I knew before starting my business it would be that there will be very rough days, very rough. But you have to keep persevering, keep designing, keep doing, and find a role model who’s business model you look up to. And on those rough days where you are just so so close to shutting down the business and giving up, look to your business role model for inspiration and think, “Hey, if she/he could do it, then I should be able to do it too!” and then go right back to work 🙂
Thank you so much to all my amazing entrepreneurs for your contributions!
Are you in business for yourself? What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far? Leave it in the comments below!