4 lessons I learned from my first year as an entrepreneur
I started my business a little over a year ago and I am loving every bit of it. I wanted to share the 4 lessons I learned in my first year as an entrepreneur. I'm still working my 9 to 5 J-O-B, but I found a creative outlet that lets me be who I am, help fellow designers and small business owners shine in their own way online.
When I started my creative journey, I felt like a lost deer! There was so much to do and overwhelm was well, OVERWHELM, to say the least! I wanted to do all things and follow the crowd. I'm still learning and I wanted to write and share those 5 lessons I learned a year after starting out.
1| Money Spent on Courses
Like everyone who wants to start their own business, I scoured the internet for any and all information I could gather on how to start a business. I signed up to a f-e-w courses, hint...meaning a lot and my favorite one was Marie Forleo’s B-School. An online course that basically walks you through how to start a business and implement tools to help your business grow.
The program was great and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. The challenge for me when I signed up was that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I worked through the lessons that help you hone in your business idea. I did the worksheets etc, but I felt I was still missing something. I felt that if I was an established business, I probably would have gotten more out of course than a newbie who had (at the time) no idea what I wanted to do.
This is definitely not a bash at B-School, far from it because it is REALLY an excellent course!!! When you sign up, you have access to their course year in year out and the courses get updated with the latest from the online industry. Fast forward two years, I can articulate what my business is, who I serve, and now I can go back to review specific lessons to solidify my strategies on an area of business that needs special attention. So if you are thinking about it, go for it.
The lesson for me was to know what I was passionate about before signing up for courses like that. I think that if I had had my business idea figured out before taking the course, I would have been able to keep up with the lesson plans and not stop midway through the course to define and articulate what my business was all about.
Take the time to define and validate your business idea before spending your dollars on courses.
2| Self-Doubt and Competition
This was a big one for me. As a web designer, I studied my competition to see what and how they were running their business. Each time I saw they did "X" thing, I would look at myself and think “Gosh, I need to do that too” and on this went.
I can’t describe the feeling, but I am sure you can relate. It was consuming me and bringing down my self-worth. Some of my internal dialogue were - Could I make it and be successful like these other designers?, Do I have the skills?, Can I do this? or these designers are way younger than me, can I really compete with them? You can see I was a mess! If I had continued to listen to this self-doubt and negative thinking, I probably would have quit a long time ago.
The lesson here is to put your blinders on. There is absolutely nothing you can do about competition. Competition is good and bad depending on how you look at it. It is a choice you make. I began to look at my competition as my teachers. I looked at those designers that were really successful and tried to figure out what they were doing and apply that to my business. Not copy them!
One of my biggest lessons is understanding and accepting that there is enough to go around. Enough clients for each designer to book and have a successful business. Even though we are designers, we are uniquely different and that speaks a lot. Self-doubt will always rear its ugly head, but now you have a choice to change that narrative in your head and heart and stop it from spiraling out of control.
3| Working with a coach
When I started my business, I wasn’t ready to work with a coach. Working with a coach can be a significant investment for a new business owner. I didn't want to make that investment because I convinced myself that once I get started with my business and booked clients, then I will have the money to invest in coaching. Boy, was I mistaken?
There are a lot of coaches out there, business coaches, life coaches, strategic coaches and on and on. Whatever your need may be, you will probably find one. When I finally made the decision to hire a coach, I told myself I was ready to uplevel my business. Man, after going through 3 coaches, I finally found one that was amazing!
My coach was none other than Nevica Vanquez. She is absolutely amazing to work with. She is a no-nonsense type of coach that tells you like it is. Working with her, I realized that I still did not quite understand what I wanted to do. I was shifting from one idea to another. Finally, she helped me see the pros and cons of each idea and I settled on one that I truly loved to do. That is building websites for creative entrepreneurs, providing technical support to other designers who could use the extra help, and businesses wanting to make changes to their websites. It was a no-brainer.
The lesson was to take a leap of faith and make that investment early on. Work with a professional coach to guide you through your business plans, strategies, and direction so you walk away with a vision and mission for your business. It really does makes a huge difference.
4| Work and life balance
I'm a wife and mom to two beautiful girls. I also have a full-time corporate job. Yes, I have a full plate. I honestly don't know how I'm able to balance all of that. Somehow it all works out and sometimes, I throw my hands up and roll with life's punches! Ain't that right?
What has worked for me is that I take time for myself and know what matters to me most. In my blog post, 3 new habits to add to your routine, I follow a daily routine to start off my day before the kids wake up. Then in the evenings, I work on my business. It takes a little bit of creativity to find time to work on my business.
The lesson for me is to plan out my mornings, days and at a high level my ideal week. What do I plan to accomplish, what are my goals and I just focus on that. Life happens and you need to know your priorities. I had to be very careful not to let my design business interfere with my day job (even though the plan is to go full time with my web design business) and most importantly be present for my husband and little girls. Work your business by all means but don't lose yourself or let your family engagement fade away because you are buried in your business.
I hope I inspired you to take a new look at your business and make those sometimes difficult decisions. It is not easy but it is doable.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned since starting your business? I would love to hear them.