What do you think it takes to run a business? Personally, there's more than one single answer. After 20 months into building my web design and photography business, there are eye-opening truths. Here we go!
#1 You have to wholeheartedly believe in what you're building even when no one else does.
People may say something about your goal from a place of love / concern or it could be their own limiting belief, listen with a grain of salt.
No one knows your whole life story and what you've gone through, trust yourself, your instincts & your gut.
Carefully evaluate & process those concerns. Some suggestions are worth considering in order to help you minimize your risks or help you explore new ideas/possibilities. Don't give up on your dream just because someone said it's too much, too complicated, too difficult, too risky. Running a business is about taking a risk (calculated risks of course).
#2 Having a talent isn't the only ticket to success.
I've seen some really, really talented people with incredible skills but they don't thrive in business.
This was a major factor that made my business fail 5 years ago. I thought I had what it took but I didn't market, make connections or sell my skills. I stayed in my bubble thinking when you build, people will come. I hated to be pushy or came across as being sales-y.
For years I misunderstood that being a pushy sale person was the only way to make a sale and I totally hated it. I didn't know you can market and offer your service in a "compassion and authentic" way. Once this clicked, everything changed.
You can't hide behind your computer or hope that people will come. You have to go find your customers. There is no other way.
#3 If you don't believe in your product or service, it is going to feel forced and awkward when you talk about it.
Before selling, test, tweak, test some more and create a product and service that you are proud of, know it works and can make a positive impact to those who need them.
You have to love and want to use your product/service before selling it to others. If you don't believe in what you offer to begin with, you will feel forced to market and people can sense it.
Take the time to develop and create a high-quality product/service, research, test, get feedback from your ideal clients as you go so that you are confident that it will work and your clients love the experience. This can be done in several ways. My favorite method is finding strangers who are in the same FB group or IG that appear to be your ideal clients, offer the service as a beta test at a lower price point and test this out or ask your exiting clients for thorough feedback about ways you can improve.
#4 Strengthen your mind & soul
When things get tough, our fear and self-doubts play a dirty trick with our mind.
Let's be honest, things will get tough when you start and as you continue on this journey. It's like riding on a roller coaster that will take you up and down, up and down some more. The ride will never end.
Let's look at what makes things tough in business.
Overwhelming steps to start your business
Fear of rejection
Uncomfortable feeling when meeting/talking to strangers especially if you're an introvert
Fear of not having enough time/money to invest
Doubt your ability/skills: am I good enough?
Financial stress from not making enough to pay bills
Inability to find customers
Customer complaints and etc.
Those concerns and fears are very real when you become your own boss. It doesn't matter how many years you're into business. A new set of challenge will present itself at various stage of business journey.
Knowing and accepting the facts that these fears/concerns and scenarios are common and normal. They are part of entrepreneurial journey and every single business owner/entrepreneur faces many times.
When people don't talk about what the struggles/difficulties they have, it doesn't mean they don't face any. At the same time, what's the point about talking about difficulties all the time right? The first step to strengthen mindset is to find a healthy way to cope when difficulties arise.
I personally have spent my morning drive after dropping my daughter off at school listening to self-development podcasts and YouTube (only listen while driving). Two of my favorites are Women of Impact and Impact Theory on YouTube. Highly, highly recommend them.
#5 Don't take your physical or mental health for granted, ever!
It's so natural for most of us to want to go 150% with our business. We want it to grow fast and do as much as we possibly can. Every minute counts.
During my first year, I got caught in this mentality "if I stopped even for just one day, I'd have a terrible setback". I have no time to waste. I hustled like I was a robot and you bet my body could only handle so much of that with little sleep for so many months.
When you're physically exhausted, your mind isn't in the right place. You become moody, cranky and can't think straight. Most importantly, you start to feel that the entrepreneurial journey sucks the life out of you and you no longer enjoy it. It's so easy to be negative, your productivity level is low and that shows in your quality of work.
I learned this the hard way but it was necessary for me to experience it by myself. It was difficult to know where that line is when you feel you have to persevere and push your limits but pull back and call it quit for the day in order to give your body/mind a break.
Risking and sacrificing your health is never worth trying. You only have one life to live, one body and one heart.
You're in this for a long ride.
Pull back when your body signals you "enough is enough", rest and renew your energy so you can make conscious decisions, produce high-quality work & regain positive energy
#6 Don't try to do it all. Delegate and get help.
This was a tough one for me. In my first year, I tried to do everything by myself on top of having a full time job, a child and a single mom schedule for the sake of wanting to bootstrap. The thought of hiring out or paying someone to do something for me didn't make any sense when I barely made any. But you know what? I hated reconciling Quickbooks. It was never fun for me and I dreaded this part.
After a year, I finally outsourced this part and life is MUCH BETTER. Many people are like me when getting started, it makes sense to try to do everything that you can to save money. However, each of us isn't good at everything. We have strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, we have limited time and time is the most precious resource that cannot be replaced.
Once you find someone that you can trust to help you with certain parts in your business, you're going to feel a sense of relief and can focus on bringing in even more revenue.
#7 YOU ARE ENOUGH. Focus on yourself, not others.
The comparison game can be so destructive to our mental health. I can't stress enough how having and developing positive perspectives and mindset is so crucial.
There will always be people who do what you do, offer the type of product or service that you offer.
But "they are NOT you". They don't talk like you, think like you, express it in the way that you do. Heck, no one sounds like me with an accent!
By comparing ourselves to someone who has 20 years of experience in their field can be very intimidating. However, I found that people who are highly experienced can feel insecure about themselves too. It doesn't matter how young, old, inexperienced or experienced you are. Start telling yourself a "new" story that can open up many possibilities.
Each of us brings something unique to the table. Our style, the way we see the world, the way we express our opinion and the way we deliver them.
Focus on yourself, stay in your lane and do the best that you can with what you have. You're enough. Utilize what you have, take action now and always learn and improve to be better at it.
#8 Not everyone is going to like what you do or become your clients.
And that's absolutely okay.
Be unapologetically you
When you express yourself, speak your truth and be who you are, you'll lose and gain some people.
We can't please everyone. Filtering your inner circle or even your clients can be beneficial and liberating to your mental heath and business in a long term.
Attract and surround yourself with people who believe and like who you are and what you do. Don't be afraid to lose those who aren't a part of your journey. Respect their decision and let them go.
This also applies to your social media following. What's the point of having 100 followers on your FB or IG but no one cares about what you do or sell? Numbers sometimes are meaningless. Investing your time and energy on people who want to engage/interact with you can be more rewarding and fulfilling.