"I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down." - Kerouac
When I started out on my entrepreneurial journey, I had no idea what I was in for. I knew I needed to dig deeper than my unfulfilling corporate job and I knew that my personal circumstances needed a boost. That was the defining factor for me, those two things had to become married. I didn't have a safety net at the time, and there wasn't a pile of cash funding my dreams. My husband was in college (Paramedic school which meant he was always gone), and we had just had a baby. I remember wondering daily if maybe I had gone mad because after all, pursuing the business 'lifestyle' wasn't easy.
There were several points in my business journey where I learned that I was my own worst enemy. For example I was awesome at coming up with ideas, but terrible at threading it together into my brand. My offers never made sense, but the good news is they were unique enough to stand out (and tested, so they worked and I had raving fans). So looking back I realized that there were a few things I'd probably change, and the other stuff I'd probably chalk up to the business learning curve.
Here are my top 5 tips for having a stronger start in business:
- I would have been more aware of the outside view of my business. Tunnel vision is a thorn in your side as a new business owner and in the beginning if this is you, then you are literally speaking into the abyss. The reason? You have no one to help because you've been essentially creating stuff for yourself. Audience and purposeful messaging is everything. Without those two things you have no business. I would have spent less time churning out new ideas and creating things like membership sites and programs early on and focused more on connection and honing my messaging. Instead I hid in the proverbial internet basement waiting for people to come, therefore making this business cash flow thing a painfully slow journey. I developed products and courses for a non-existent audience which in turn made it harder to promote. I mean the stuff I made was great, but how exactly do you build a thriving business off selling just a few things? You don't. I had no core message, so how was I going to 'talk' to my ideal customers? Also, if all I wanted to do was create new stuff, I should have thought about becoming an internet marketer (it's a viable option) so I could churn out stuff and sell it for a lower cost and have some cash flow. Online business is all about making a name for yourself, so being addicted to creating can make you feel like you have a business, but if you can't bring in cash, you don't in fact have a business. Since being an internet marketer didn't really match up with my core, the build it and they will come thing didn't work out so well for me. I was completely out of alignment. I would have worked on perfecting cash flow in just one thing, before I moved onto another for sure.
- I would have put the time into building a proper funnel and threaded everything I did so that the people who signed up for my list, were the same people who would want to hire me or buy from me. I would have planned ahead, and leveraged pre-designed promotion periods to force me to be consistent too.
- I would have banked on my talent longer, and socked that cash away while I worked on the other parts of my business that I still needed to develop. For example I was a wiz at technology but had a mentoring business. All I could focus on was leaving behind my 'trading dollars for hours' stuff and spent entirely too much time avoiding trading dollars for hours while I got everything else going. At the time my tech skills were my talent, and should have helped pay the bills more. As I sat there whining about being broke, I could have just setup a few websites and made a practical move to tell the universe I was ready for more. It took many many many years and free sessions for me to work out my process in a way that I could explain it to others. If you are diving into new territory it is going to take time, so why not have a security net to help you along? Right now the bar for coaching/mentoring is so low I feel that some people are being mislead to thinking this is the only/best way to start a business. It takes time to learn how to coach/mentor, it's not an out of the box one size fits all business solution that you can just wake up one day and be awesome at. Start with your natural talent and work towards developing a future craft once your cash is stable.
- I would have worked on my mindset early on. I'll admit I am NOT a personal development junkie, but I wish I would have been. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like I needed to spend uber amounts of cash that I didn't have for someone to tell me that I'm amazing, but what I would have done was read more books, watched more videos, and surrounded myself with more people who believed as deeply as I did about business. Not only is this motivating, it's a way to get out of your own head, which in turn produces faster, more solid growth. Sometimes being in our own heads too much is like stomping around in the garden.
- I would have sat at my desk less, and stood more, and took away the late nights whenever possible. Let me preface this one with there is a difference between working smart as a hustle, and letting the hustle overwork you. I would have made myself take more walk breaks, and I would have piped in video workouts or yoga daily into my home office. Somehow I made my business more like my old day job, it was grind, grind, grind, health suffers, grind. And yes I know Gary Vee says you have to hustle and go, but if you are smart about how you spend your time, you can do this without killing your health. For me, I had forgotten that one of my core complaints about my day job was being so sedentary and wasting away in the cube farm. I had gained weight and had chair arse, which I'm currently trying to fix. So when I designed my business around my life, why did I leave out one of the things I longed for?
- BONUS TIP, I would have hired based on my weaknesses. So before you think "Let's spend cash on all the things!" know that I'm a firm believer in not spending money you haven't made. So for me, this one is an investment that happens only once you've earned it by making SOME MONEY. So hustle to make X amount of cash, and spend a percentage on upping your game. Pay your bills and build a savings with the rest. There is a difference between not wanting to write sales copy and not knowing how to write sales copy. I clearly do not know how to write copy. I would have hired my copywriter waaaaay earlier once I perfected my craft, so I could have sounded more pro. I would have hired a VA to handle my emails sooner too as well as a photographer to snap a few photos of my face so people would know I was real! Those are things I spent way too much time trying to do on my own (Don't google how to take professional headshots with your iPhone) and I could have saved myself time by spending a little money.
So where do you go from here? I invite you to take a step outside your head, and evaluate your business guiding star. Does this star really reflect what you want and need to do right now? Evaluate what steps can you take to pull it all together and make a plan of action to make a more solid, and sustainable business.
In my case, it's all good because as I realized these things, I evolved, and staying flexible is going to help you go the distance.
It would have been easier to give up. It would have been easier to just say I'm tired of this not working and reinvent yet again, but instead I put in the work to develop the stuff that played on my talents, while I worked on my craft.
Now I have TWO talents, whereas in the beginning I had one I ran away from, and one I longed for.
If you need help, feel free to book a quickie with me.