So you wanna start your own business eh? AWESOME!!!! No seriously, I think that's great. YOU CAN DO IT!!! But before you start, I wanna share 8 tips that I've learned from being my own boss ...
1. Start the right business for the right reasons.
Don't go into it purely because of the money. Now don't get me wrong- you NEED to make money in order to have a successful business! But it shouldn't be the prime motivator for starting one. Starting, growing and maintaining a business is countless hours of hard work. If you don't absolutely LOVE the business you are starting, then you are either going to be unhappy and/or burn out eventually. (I also wrote a post on how to choose the right business idea, which you may find helpful!) Which leads me too ...
2. Choose something you're passionate about.
What are you naturally good at? What could you spend hours a day doing happily, for free? What do you want to share with people, and the world? Before I started my wedding photography business almost 4 years ago, I would happily spend hours upon hours in Photoshop playing with and editing images purely for the fun of it! I carried a camera with me EVERYWHERE I went and got so much joy out of taking pictures and documenting life. Because my business is centered around something I'm passionate about, work rarely feels like "work," even though in reality it is a TON of hard work!
3. Plan and goal set!
This is so important.What are the goals of your business? What are your goals financially? Where do you see your business a few years down the road? Plan goals then create small, precise steps and to-do lists to reach them! Spend a day each week coming up with weekly goals and break those down into daily tasks. Carry your to-do list with you everywhere and post your goals in a spot where you can see them easily. All of your hard work probably won't get you very far if you don't take the time to plan and goal set. Plus I don't know about you, but I looooove dreaming and coming up with new goals and figuring out how to reach them! It's also great to set quarterly and annual goals. So basically, be sure to plan, set goals, and make to-do lists okay? (I wrote a post on goal setting right here ...)
4. Expect to hustle, and hustle hard (especially in the beginning!)
Starting a business is NOT easy. Thankfully it can be extremely rewarding and fun (and should be if it's something that you are passionate about!) but it is A LOT of hard work, especially in the first couple of years. I can't tell you how many FREE, non-paid hours I've put into my business getting it started and making it grow. They have been COUNTLESS. Tasks like blogging, creating my website and bookkeeping are just a few examples of tasks I don't get paid for. But you know what? It's okay, because I am working towards building my brand, my business and creating value for my clients! So when you are spending countless hours hustling to get your business started, focus on the VALUE you are creating for your customers and clients, not on how many un-paid hours you are putting in.
5. You'll wear different hats, and lots of them!
Many people assume that because I'm a wedding photographer that the majority of my job is taking pictures. I'd have to say that only 20% of my job is taking photos, and the other 80% is business! Not only am I a photographer, but I'm also a bookkeeper, marketer, advertiser, blogger and web designer! And there's probably other hats that I wear that I'm forgetting. But my point is, is that you will more than likely be doing several different jobs- at least in the beginning. Eventually you can outsource various tasks and jobs if you so choose!
6. Don't try to market to the masses.
You can't please everyone. While marketing to the masses is doable for large companies like Target, it is not a good idea for small, creative businesses. It is much better to market to a small, targeted audience filled with your ideal customers because this way you will be able to really hone in on your brand, how you should market yourself, how to better serve your customers/clients, etc. It's so much better to create a product or service that really knocks it out of the park with a specific audience than to create a generic, watered-down product/service that tries to appeal to everyone.
7. Market to the audience that you desire.
Who do you want to work with? Who is your dream client? What specific type of person is your product or service for? This is YOUR business after all, and you should be creating products/services that you LOVE and you need to be getting it out to the people who will "get it." If you have a current audience that is not responsive to a service or product that you LOVE, don't give up and change your idea! Focus on finding and building an audience who will love it as much as you do. This might take months or even years, but is SO important and definitely worth it! (Psssst, you might enjoy this post on how to attract your ideal reader!)
8. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and play on your strengths!
Many times people focus their energy on strengthening their weaknesses, but I believe you should focus on strengthening your strengths! We all have weaknesses and strengths, the key is figuring out what yours are. For me, I hate talking on the phone. Over the phone consultations and checking in with brides before their wedding are a regular part of my job, but if I'm being honest with my introverted self, talking on the phone doesn't come naturally to me. It makes me a little nervous, I fumble my words easy and tend to babble. Those are pretty good indicators that it's a weakness of mine. Coming up with new branding ideas, however, is something I LOVE doing. I wish all my friends had small business so that I could help all of them to define their brand! It comes naturally, it's fun and I get a lot of joy from doing it. Yes, those are pretty clear indicators that this is a natural strength! I'm not saying to ignore your weaknesses, but by focusing on your strengths you can really plan a business and schedule around the things that you are naturally good at.
I hope you can find some of these tips helpful! While owning your own business is a lot of work, it is such a rewarding journey and one I wouldn't trade for anything.