Three months have passed and I have made it through my first quarter of business. Not only that, I have more clients, more projects and working with some incredibly talented people. In my personal life, my daughter is successfully eating solids, sleeping through the night and mummy is just a few pounds off pre-baby weight.
I am loving work but along with the successes, paid invoices, and celebratory high fives have also come tears, doubts, and lessons learned. As I support and work with a number of start-ups and small businesses I thought this is a good opportunity to pass on what I have learnt so far, what I am going to do next and how am I going to continue to grow my humble business.
Being The Boss Is Hard.
Now I wasn’t naïve enough to think that being the boss is an easy job but I didn't predict how lonely it would be. Coming from a buzzy agency with my own team to sitting on my tod in my office was quite a shock. It’s one of the most difficult aspects of running my own business for me.
I’ve been lucky to connect with lots of other business owners, especially with looking after their marketing and many of them being start- ups. But not having colleagues to bounce ideas off, to go to lunch with and to share highs and lows has really hit me. I am very lucky and not the same as most business owners as I work with a number of freelance creatives. But it has set a goal in my head, it's no fun having success on my own. My future aspiration is to have a small team or a partner who wants to go on this journey with me.
Relying On Others
It might sound like an odd thing but relying on others has been very important for me to make a success of my business. Being such a control freak, this has not always been easy. But what advice I can give is take help. This is important in all parts of life and even more so for new mums and business owners. For me, it wasn’t a matter of choice. If I wanted to make this company work, I needed to rely on my partner to pay more of the bills. I had to count on him to go to work every day, or I would never have had had the courage to start my business. Not only that, but I needed help from family with child care, friends with skills and knowledge of the wider business world and also my clients who had expertises that I do not have. From printing, IT support, accounts, raising funds and personal help with keeping me fit and in some cases a little more pretty (love a manicure and full head of highlights). There is no shame in asking for help in order to thrive in life. What’s great is that we all have something to offer someone else — sometimes it takes little or no effort.
Self Doubt Is A Killer
One huge thing I have learnt is that I don’t have thick skin. I am always desperate to be perfect in everything I do and please everyone. If there is a slight hiccup or I don't know the answer, and the very worst scenario I am not the best, then I find it hits me hard. It really knocks my self confidence if I come un stuck.
I love what I do every day, whether it be designing a new website, that does everything my new client needs for their business, or writing a blog post. I totally get the process and feel very comfortable with what I do. Sometimes this can lead to the outrageous idea that I have nailed it and everything will be perfect. Wrong! I know I will spend a lifetime learning new things about my industry. I am slowly getting used to the fact not everything can be plain sailing and beginning to accept that I sadly can’t be perfect. But what I do know is that I will always do my best, I will always work my hardest but at times I just won't know the answer and need to call the expert. Now, instead of beating myself up - I read a book, I hit google, or I find a course. But if I can’t fix it then I will find someone who can.
Spend money on your business.
This lesson really only came to me in the last few weeks and interestingly enough from one of my own clients. It is very easy and even more so in my industry, to be busy doing and giving advice to other business owners on how they should promote, market and grow their business. But when it comes to your own business you are giving it very little time. But not only time I need to start digging into my own pockets. If I want my business to grow, then it’s important to spend a little money on things that will help to elevate my brand. But like many of you I don't have a money tree or a lovely investor I can turn to, But I am doing just small things that won't break the bank, but investing a little more each month, or starting a savings account for big business purchases is a great idea and something I will be doing from next month. I will be promoting my business by branding everything I use when I am out and about on business. My car, my phone, my laptop, my pen, my notebook. This may seem a little much but I am the only advocate for my business and without having my logo tattooed on my head, what better way for people to see my logo. I can also give pens and pads to clients to use. It’s not the most original idea but gets things rolling. I am creating my own promotional video to explain my business simply, to show off previous work, to engage clients and most importantly to create new content for my website and social media. This will also make me clean up my messaging and make sure my branding, services and pricing are all on point. I will be spending money on SEO, Social Adverts and networking. I will also spend more one on one time with clients grabbing a drink or some yummy munch. Great to catch up, review, improve and build on what I am already offering. I would much rather work with my clients forever than a 2 month stint or a one off project. I will also network and meet new people.
Your clients will only respect you as much as you respect yourself
I will admit I am a little timid about running my business. I am always scared to hold my clients accountable if they violated our written contract, to highlight it will cost more money and to essentially respect myself as a business owner. For that reason, I know I let things slide at times and spend a lot of time doing extra requests for clients (for free), even if it wasn’t part of our original project. I am useless when it comes to discussing money. But I know I need to get stronger as I am not just doing a disservice to myself but also to my clients. By not creating a clear process and set-in- stone policies, it has on occasions caused confusion from customers and turned me into a freebie workhorse. I know if I am to be a successful business owner, I must first respect myself. This means respecting my time, value, and expertise. All us business owners must not waiver on the things that are important to us.
Just Be You
The final thing I have learnt and perhaps the most important lesson of all is to be you, to always be genuine and totally valuable. I am a very proud person, others my say stubborn but I dislike sharing my shortcomings or mistakes. But in just these few months I’ve learned that in business (and life, really), it’s so much more meaningful to admit when you’re wrong, be kind and genuine, and try to offer a ridiculous amount of value in not only the service or product you sell but also value to your customer or client. Because building strong lasting relationships is what it’s
Quite fitting really, Amicitia = Friendship