Starting a business can seem really scary at first. At the beginning, there’s a lot to learn about managing a business, creating a brand, and finding clients. Not to mention, it’s risky.
In his memoir “Shoe Dog,” Nike creator Phil Knight describes entrepreneurship much like being an outcast. “It was my first real awareness that not everyone in this world will like us,” he writes, “or accept us, that we’re often cast aside at the very moment we most need to be included.” Knight experienced this first hand, whether it was within his own family or with outside creditors and banks as his shoe business, Blue Ribbon, became what we know today as Nike.
In 2017, I decided to take the leap and freelance full-time. From providing social media services to freelance writing, the journey has come with a number of surprises along the way. Here are 7 things I wish I’d known at the start of my business that I hope will make your transition to entrepreneurship easier:
7 Things To Do First, Before Starting Your Business
You can start a business online for as little as $0, though creating a long-term budget will help create a baseline for your rate and future expenses. A startup budget can include website hosting, software tools, and marketing expenses. If your budget is a bit more flexible, you can also include design + branding though there are low-cost resources, like Creative Market, that can help you get started. When you’re first starting out, create a budget for your first 18 months. Know ahead of time what your expected numbers are, including the 30-40% taxes you’ll pay as a self-employed superstar. 🌟
2. Be Open
Virtual assistance, freelance copywriting, editing book manuscripts for first-time authors, or coaching young graduates on how to break into publishing – the possibilities to start a business are endless. If you know the kind of service or product you’d like to offer, then you can quickly set up shop with a set of business cards and social media profiles. But, if you’re like me, then you love a variety of things and understanding how they all fit together will take a bit of puzzle setting. This is where being open to new avenues can help. If you’re dead set on becoming an event planner, for example, you can explore different industries to get a feel for your special sauce. If it excites you, try it! And be open to things being slightly different than expected.
3. Make No! Your Friend
When you start a business, it can be very easy to get trapped in that all work, no play mentality. Focusing to the point of obsession without time to breathe, can cause burn out and boredom. Rather than overextending yourself, learning to intentionally pick your projects and the events you attend can make for a much more enjoyable experience. Imagine stepping into a bakery. The double chocolate rainbow cookies and the toffee crunch blondies and maple bacon cupcakes all look delicious. But what if you tried to eat them all at once? You might get sick, or find you liked the toffee blondies more than the bacon cupcakes. Same applies here. No + JOMO = BFF (Best Founder’s Friend).
4. Anchor Yourself
Alright cadets, this one is where you strap yourselves in and give your creative freelance dreams a real fighting chance. There are a few ways to create an anchor in your business even if you’re not sure what kind of business you’d like to start. For instance, when I started I knew writing and communications for health and wellness brands would be my main focus. Similarly, you could anchor your business in an industry, the type of businesses you serve such as mom + pop shops or startups, or a particular product or service. Basically, what’s the unifying thread – Is it a community of people? Or a particular type of work? That’s your anchor!
5. Make Wellness A Priority
As a wellness advocate, I believe self-care and a healthy wellness routine are cornerstones to entrepreneurship. That means eating to support your body, exercising, and scheduling in time for breaks or meditation. These days we’re connected ALL the time. Detoxing from social media and screens can help ward off anxiety, depression, and the comparison trap. Creating a morning and evening routine where you take time to center yourself, spend time off connecting with family + friends, and tracking your productivity time can do wonders for your productivity.
6. Be A Beginner
Freelancing, like anything, takes time + effort. And lots of learning. There will be unexpected challenges that require flexibility and a willingness to see things with fresh eyes. I’ve had times where I’ve drafted up plans and had to go back to square one. That is the nature of business though. So be willing to start as a beginner and show yourself some grace when needed.
7. Make Your Work Your Play
Because wasn’t that the whole point of following your creativity? 🥳 I used to think work was one of those things you did to earn a living before your “real life” started. Anyone else? Over the course of the last three years though I’ve come to see that when you enjoy what you do, you could actually do it forever. Of course, even when work feel likes play you still have to put in the work. Finding clients will take time + effort, as will managing a business, and completing projects. But it is possible to find creatively challenging work with opportunities for you to grow your gifts + talents. Test a new tool or browse a few blogs for inspiration to keep your work fresh and motivate yourself long-term.
What kind of business would you like to start?
One of the best parts about freelancing or starting a business is you’re always learning. Plus, with the right clients you’ll get to meet cool people who are making a difference in the world.
How do you feel about starting a business? Share your thoughts in the comments below to let me know what you think.
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