This month I celebrate my first year in business.
As my job is about helping other people’s businesses be visible online, I love seeing behind the scenes. Business owners sharing how they got started and their journey.
This month I celebrate my own first year in business. I wanted to mark this occasion by reflecting on the last twelve months and giving you an insight into my journey.
In all honesty, it has come with mixed emotions. I am proud to have made it this far, even with everything that 2020 has bought us. But there is still sometimes self-doubt, a mix of anxiety around not being perfect, or being the right fit.
Working for yourself doesn’t feel like the norm, and most people who aren’t entrepreneurs don’t get the burning desire to do something different. But I also didn’t feel like I identified with the ‘entrepreneur hustle’ culture. Carving out something different for yourself, when the path is unknown is pretty scary!
It has been twelve months full of different learnings, personal challenges, boundaries and lessons. I’ve had to overcome a lot of hurdles, some minute by minute, others slightly larger. Yet, I’ve learnt more about myself and business in this one year, than I have in my whole working career.
At the very beginning I was given some advice:
“Just get started”
“Get an accountant”
Thank you Chris and James!
I started with an idea, a way to merge all my experience – you can read more why I started here.
If I could go back a year, what would I tell myself?
To begin with, I was my own worst enemy. Like so many people starting out on their own, I felt like a fraud as I just didn’t believe in myself. The fraud feeling came deep from within but once I started believing in my ideas, I found that most people were fascinated by my new career and believed in me far quicker than I believed in myself! This gave me so much confidence to push forward.
Self-doubt and comparing yourself to others will make you quit before you even begin. The thing with confidence and mindset work is that you need to be ready, someone can’t do it for you and it can’t be done passively.
I recommend working with a coach if you can. I worked with Scott Hardiman, and worked on limiting beliefs and building resilience.
I would certainly tell myself to work on my mindset first, I didn’t realise how much mental strain there would be.
Your branding doesn’t have to be perfect
It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself, this one will shift around so much in the beginning. Don’t commit too much spend or time on branding in the beginning.
As long as you know roughly who you are serving and your values, having the perfect brand and photography isn’t necessary in the beginning.
It can actually be a distraction and help you procrastinate even further. Changing your logo or Facebook banner is NOT being productive. It won’t bring you in money.
Use a Canva template, focus on your client and your offer and get on with it!
You need to understand your market and your offer before you can start to develop a brand to suit it. Once you start generating an income I recommend looking at your branding.
I recommend you support a local independent designer – and don’t just pick the cheapest. Pick someone who has expertise in your industry, or whose work you admire.
Tackling those hurdles
There are so many hurdles I have overcome, some more successfully than others. I’ve done things I didn’t even realise I knew how to do. Action helps you become more confident and competent. Thinking is great, but doing is better!
The major difference for me, that some people don’t realise is you have to be motivated. As an employee you can coast through a job you don’t like as you have someone holding you up. Having someone telling you what needs to be done, and finding someone else for the things you are bad at.
When it is just you…guess what? It’s all on you!
You have to plan your days, weeks, months. You have to power through when you don’t feel like it, when you have no idea what you are doing, and figuring it out as you go is exhausting. The ebb and flow of self-employment never stops, and you can’t even rest once that invoice is paid, as it all starts again.
I’m equipped with a diary and two white boards, as well as project management tools like Asana to keep me on task. Many clients, across many platforms, with different needs and requirements.
It’s achievable, but it’s pretty much all on you, no one is really there to jump in and save you. Which is both a freeing and terrifying feeling. This is why you have to love what you do, and be able to work through the tough times with enjoyment. It’s about the journey.
Building a network – find your tribe!
The power of working together and collaboration. Find others who have done what you want to do, or those who understand where you are. Over a long career I have built a network of amazing friends, collaborators and supporters. They helped me make the shift from employee to owner. They know who they are, and some even became my first clients!
You have to surround yourself with like-minded people. By immersing yourself in their knowledge and understanding it will start to move the dial for you. The power of collaboration over competition.
I am so grateful to the following established and local networks who helped me:
St. Neots Business Network – my very first local network group, with some great people who love to chat over a coffee!
StartUp Disruptors – An ever-growing community of business owners. Becky has provided immense support to my business so far.
Shifties – This local community makes me feel a little bit less crazy when I talk about my business ideas and what I want to achieve.
Never stop learning
I think it is important to note, especially with social media, that it changes all the time. Just when you think you have ‘mastered’ something, it changes. So, you must always keep learning. There will always be someone who knows more than you, and even better…someone who knows less.
We are all on the same journey, and we should aim to help those who know less, more than worry we aren’t as good as someone else.
We just need to always focus on bettering ourselves.
Was it worth it, and should more people do the same?
I hold my hands up, this has been a great experience for me. I would recommend starting a side hustle or a passion project that can bring you additional income and make you happy.
However, I do want to say that starting a business is tough – especially mentally. I don’t want to judge whether it is for you, but I think everyone should try it. You don’t know until you try, no amount of thinking is going to test it. You need to take action.
I’m a big believer in progress over perfection, steps no matter how small, but always forward.
I felt when I started if it took me 5 years, or 10 years to build a business – that was fine, as long as I enjoyed it.
If I failed at 1 year or 5 years, that would be fine as long as I learnt more about myself and what I could achieve.
Plans for year 2
I know it is important to set goals, but I feel like I am still finding my feet. I’m focussing on growth to support my current clients with new creative ideas.
There is lots more to come including online training, group coaching and more ideas to help support business owners to manage their own social media.
My main goal is to help reduce the overwhelm and stress business owners feel about the world of digital and online.
I have a grand vision, and maybe over a coffee, I will share it with you one day.
I’d love to hear more about your journey or answer more questions about getting started.
Connect with me on social media.