5 Lessons I've Learned in My First 3 Months of Owning a Business
There must be hundreds more, though.
I believe in celebrating milestones of all kinds, and clinking glasses to being in business for three months is no exception! Three months ago, I quit my corporate job and launched The 5th Sense. I was wide-eyed and ready to take on that #girlboss entrepreneur life, and it's been great! But I have definitely learned a lot a long the way. Here are five biggies:
Be Prepared Before You Leap... To An Extent
Most jaws drop when I tell people that I matched my corporate salary within one month of being in business. Those people clearly don't know me well.
I am a planner TO THE CORE, and I was never going to be able to take a leap as dramatic as this one without a full plan in place. I can't suggest this enough to aspiring entrepreneurs. I planned my launch date four months before I left my job. That gave me plenty of time to save money, research, develop a full business plan, make a website, figure out my services and market them to people (to start contracts on the day I was leaving my job, of course!) I networked with new potential clients, and told everyone I already knew when and what I was starting. Not only did that keep me accountable, it also lead to some initial clients!
It was an extremely difficult four months working full-time and preparing my business on lunch breaks, nights and weekends, but it paid off in the end-- literally.
That being said, it's never going to be the perfect moment to shake up your entire life. Set a date and work towards it! If you've build the foundation, when you jump the net will appear.
Never Stop Learning, but Don't Let it Consume You
During those four months of research and business preparation, I became OBSESSED with business and entrepreneur blogs. I spent hours reading up on how to make a business plan, find clients, narrow your niche, etc. There is a wealth of free information out there, and it's imperative to read-up so you and your business don't become stale. Blogs, books, podcasts, articles-- it never ends! It's something I still maintain to this day.
However, it's easy to get lost in the information overload. I would walk away from an afternoon of "research" feeling productive, only to realize I didn't actually accomplish anything-- all I did was read about other people's success! Consuming others' content is SO important for learning and growing your business, but not to the point that it stunts your own growth. Now, I have a new rule for myself: create, then consume.
SHOCKER: You Still Need a Structure
I think everyone has this idealized scenario of working from home. I know I did. I pictured a world of waking up when I wanted to, wearing my pajamas all day and working on the couch while watching SVU. Not to say that doesn't happen sometimes, but if I did that every day, I would be out of business.
It's true when people say "only entrepreneurs will work 80 hours for themselves to avoid working 40 for someone else." There are clear benefits to working from home and making your own schedule, but there are equally as many pitfalls-- not to mention it's a lot of work! Creating a schedule that allowed me to have structure but still enjoy the flexibility of working from home took some time, but I feel like I'm finally finding my groove after three months. It's very trial-and-error, and it depends on the person.
A glimpse and my "typical" day if I'm home alone? Wake up at 6:30/7, walk my dog and have breakfast with my husband. After he leaves for work, I catch up on emails and food blogs, then dive into my work for the day in 1.5 hour blocks with breaks in between. I've also learned I do my best when I have a small workout around 2:30 or 3pm, a luxury I couldn't afford at my old job. I wrap up around 5:30 when he gets home. I pour a glass of wine every day at 5:30. No exceptions.
ps. everyone else's rule about "getting dressed to be productive?" I don't follow that. #leggingsandnobraforlife.
Never Be Afraid to Ask
As a business owner, it's okay to not have everything figured out. No one does! But it isn't okay to let your fear of reaching out keep you from growing. You can find almost ANYTHING on Google these days, so there's really no excuse to write an idea off as "I don't know how to do that." FIGURE. IT. OUT. Google it, phone a friend or ask a stranger that's more successful than you (they'll be flattered).
This rule applies to learning about your business and landing new clients. If I only reached out to people who were actively looking for social media and copy writing help, I would have approximately one client. Don't be scared to approach people about your services, and don't think any dream client is out of reach. Be confident and put your horse in the race. The worst thing they can say is no!
Done is Better Than Perfect
I have to say this to myself literally 19 times a day. Don't get me wrong-- it is SO SO important to produce work that will make you, your clients and your business proud. And, when your business is "your baby," criticism on your work feels a lot closer to the chest. The perfectionist in some (aka me) struggled with that for a couple of weeks, laboring over everything I produced until it took up half of my day. Don't do that! Complete a project, set it down, and proof it after. Then turn that -ish in! Done is better than perfect, because perfect is never complete.
What lessons have you learned or what questions do you have about running your own business? After three months, I can't pretend to have all of the answers, but let me know in the comments below!