When you first start your business, there’s no real roadmap. There can be a lot of questions that come up and it can be confusing for where to go to find these answers. Having been there two years ago, I wanted to share some tips that are really helpful when navigating the start of your business. Some of these are things I implemented from day one, and others are ones I had to learn the hard way.
Here’s to hoping these tips will help you avoid some of those mistakes and fast track your business’ success.
Believe in yourself, believe in yourself, believe in yourself.
Yes, this is worth repeating three times. This is the biggest differentiator between businesses that make it and those that don’t. If you truly believe in your success, you won’t throw in the towel when it gets hard. Instead, you’ll find a solution. There is always a way to pivot and move forward, but you’ll never find it if you aren’t determined to succeed.
There will be moments of doubt, I can guarantee you this much. However, it’s your ability to move through that doubt, trust that you will figure it out, and see success on the other side that will determine if you make it or not. This is the one thing that has deterred me the most throughout the process. I could’ve saved so much time and energy if I would’ve learned earlier how to pivot out of fear and doubt and towards trust instead. Those fears and doubts aren’t meant to be there as blocks, but yet as motivators.
If something in your business scares you, it is probably the exact thing you need to move towards. Fear will always be there, but don’t let it drive. Make it an ally instead that shows you what excites you and what to pursue next. Then tell it to get in the back seat because you’ve got some moves to make.
Filing an LLC is not hard
PSA: It takes thirty minutes at most. Google “Filing an LLC in x state” and it will take you to the Secretary of State site that will guide you through the steps. One thing you’ll want to look into before you do this is if your name is already taken by someone in a similar industry. You can use this resource to check by your state.
Find your “real” why
This is one I put off for far too long. However, knowing your real why will help move you forward on those meh days where you are questioning your decisions. Why do you really want to see success in your business? Is it to make a sustainable living for your family? Is to pursue a life aligned with your values and passion? Personally, mine is to live a life of freedom and fulfillment and help others do the same.
Note, your why isn’t in the nitty gritty of the mode in which you pursue this. So, you have to go deeper. If you’re starting a podcast for example, your why wouldn’t revolve around producing the best podcast. Go a level deeper, why do you want to produce the best podcast? Is it to give value to people through the podcast? Why do you want to provide that value?
Peel back the layers and figure out what is at the core of it all. That way, when you have moments of doubt, you can always go back to this to help you stay motivated and know the importance of the work you are doing.
Save 30% of all incoming money for taxes
This is something I luckily did from day one and it has been one of the best pieces of advice that my father shared with me (see dad, I do listen to your wisdom). This is a great practice even if you don’t hit that 30% tax bracket as it allows you to have some savings built up.
Come tax time, you’ll be SO grateful that you don’t have to think retroactively and you’ll likely have some extra cashflow left over that you can reinvest in the business. Which brings me to my next point.
Invest in your business
This is one thing I wish I would have done sooner. Once you make investments in your business, you know you are committed to making this thing happen because you are putting your money where your mouth is.
I also think it is extremely beneficial to invest in learning from people who have done what you want to do instead of trying to learn it yourself through trial and error. For example, I just wrapped the Design Biz Mastery with Morgan Rapp. In four months, I was able to learn and implement the steps she uses to see huge success in her business. Yes, I could’ve pieced all of this together over a couple of years. However, it made more sense for me to make that upfront investment, gain the knowledge and have a step-by-step plan to get to that level of success instead of making it up as I go along. So, find someone you admire in your industry and see if they have courses or opportunities for you to learn from them directly.
Also, a lot of these types of courses provide you with a network of badass entrepreneurs and as I’ll expand upon in the next point, this type of community is crucial.
Build a community
There are so many ways to do this, but I HIGHLY recommend starting this from day one. Being an entrepreneur can feel extremely isolating, especially if most of your friends aren’t in that world. It can feel lonely until you start to surround yourself with other people who are in the arena with you building a business they love. Some ways you can do this:
- Join a course that also has a community aspect (hint: I’m building this component into my course’s relaunch next month since I know how incredibly valuable this is)
- Find local networking events. Yes, I know this can be scary for some people, but keep in mind everyone is there connect so they WANT to talk to you. This is also great because it gets you out there and talking about your business, instead of hiding behind a screen in leggings and a top knot for days on end (yes, that was me). Just strike up a conversation with people and ask those to coffee that you want to connect with further.
- Join Facebook groups. This is another thing I was late to the party for that was SO helpful. There are tons of entrepreneur groups where you can get great answers to questions you may have, connect with people inside and outside of your industry and find people for contract work you need to outsource. These can also be a great place to find work as people frequently post opportunities. Here are some of my favorites: Societygal, Goal Digger Podcast, Freelancing Females.
Final note on this, it makes a HUGE difference in your life if you surround yourself with people who build you up instead of tear you down. So, build a community that hears your crazy idea and tells you to run with it.
Know your worth
This goes hand in hand with believing in yourself. Know that your knowledge and expertise has a high value. Don’t undercharge, which I know is much easier said than done. Pricing can be difficult to get comfortable with, but if you’re providing amazing results for clients, you deserve to be compensated fairly. Ditch the starving artist (ahem entrepreneur) mindset and realize that is just a limiting belief you are placing on yourself. You do amazing work, your prices should reflect that. And honestly, you will get more aligned clients when you start doing this because you step into your zone as an expert and that is exactly who people want to work with.
Work on your business, not just in it
This is another lesson that I wish I would’ve known from the start. You need to take what I call CEO time outside of your client or direct business work to strategize and market your business. Think long term of where you want your business to be in three years and consistently take actions to get yourself there.
For marketing, figure out who your ideal client is and where they are showing up. If this is on LinkedIn, take thirty minutes a day to show up and engage on that platform. Ideally you pick two or three platforms and build a presence for marketing.
Note, this doesn’t mean creating different content for each platform. Post a blog and then use pieces of it in another post for instagram and post more of that in an email you send out. If you start looking long term from day one, you’ll put yourself out SO far ahead.
Don’t give up, consistency is key
Speaking long term, most people try something for their business and when they don’t see immediate results, they give up. DON’T GIVE UP. You have to start somewhere. Even if you only have 15 instagram followers now, show up and provide value. If you do that consistently, I bet you those 15 will turn into 1500 before you know it. Also remember that quality is better than quantity. You’d rather show up on a platform authentically and build an audience that is engaged than have thousands of followers that don’t value your content, aka won’t ever become clients.
Mindset is everything
Something I learned through my first business coach that has made all of the difference: you control your thoughts, they don’t control you.
Do the work to become an observer of your thoughts instead of buying into the stories they are telling you. This allows you to take a step back and reframe when thoughts turn sour. Because let’s be real, this can be a scary venture. However, getting wrapped up in fear will NOT get you anywhere you want to be.
Something that has helped me immensely when these thoughts happen is to reach for gratitude instead. Lean into positivity and think about how far you’ve come to shift your mindset to a better (and more productive) outlook. This will allow you to move forward and succeed in your business instead of sitting paralyzed in fear.
I could (and plan to) write several blog posts on this topic alone and all of the things tools I’ve used to shift my mindset. It makes a massive difference once you choose to be your biggest cheerleader instead of your biggest critic.
Enjoy the Journey
Last but not least, enjoy every part of building your business. Celebrate all of the wins, big and small. This is an exciting time and if you don’t slow down and enjoy the process, you’ll always be chasing the next thing. People who are further along than you will tell you, you never feel like you’ve “made it”. Because by the time you reach one goal, you’re onto the next. So, take it all in, revel in the little wins and note how far you’ve come at every step.
This list is a compilation of the BEST advice I wish I would’ve taken from day one. For more in depth tactics for starting a service based business, sign up for my newsletter below. I’ll be sharing blogs on a weekly basis filled to the brim with juicy resources that will set you up for success.