Going into business is such a scary endeavor. For me I knew my ‘why’ behind the need for freedom in my time, however making it happen took a lot of effort and time (as I’m sure any entrepreneur would agree with).
I left a very stable job with good income to live out my values of being a more present mom and supporter of small business owners. To make that dream a reality though took a full year before I truly felt like I was hitting my stride. A friend and fellow entrepreneur told me that statistically it takes 3-5 years to really start making a profit. I was floored by this number because that seems like such a long time! The more I thought about it though the more it made sense. By the time you really gain traction and build up a solid clientele base can take several years. My first year in business was not amazing profit wise. If anything I lost money, however I had a strong reason to keep pushing forward and used this first year to figure out the logistics of owning a small business.
I love how Jenn Jett Barrett, visionary and founder of Camp Well & The Well Summit, says, “go ugly early.” She means that in the beginning of starting something new it’s okay to “go ugly” because we are all figuring out what our businesses will look like and how they will function. It’s not pretty by any means but it’s the beginning and after a few years into running your business it will look so much better than when you started!
Here are some things I learned in my first year of business:
01. Pay for a reliable Client Relation Management Tool
When I started, I used a basic CRM platform to send invoices. The branding was all wrong and it didn’t look as professional as I would have hoped. I later purchased a subscription to Honeybook and I’m so glad I did! It allows me to put my branding on, doesn’t show Honeybook ads, and is super user friendly.
02. Start writing blog posts and scheduling them out before tons of clients stream in
Blog posts allow for search engines to use the words found on your site to send people your way. While your clientele list is low (because you are just starting out), use your working hours to get ahead on blog posts and content. Trust me when I say it becomes extremely hard to fit in time for your own business growth when you are serving your clients. It’s also good practice to get into a routine of writing content for your website or social media pages and schedule those posts out so you have information consistently flowing to consumers on a regular basis.
03. Stick to your designated working times
Working from home I have learned it’s really important to stay consistent in my working hours. I have roughly about 2-3 hours a day when I can do my bookkeeping & copywriting tasks. I have to be extremely strategic about how I am going to get all the work done in 15 hours/week. Even on weeks when my workload is lighter I still sit down at my computer and work on something (blog posts, finances, client work, etc.) so that I don’t get out of the habit of using those work hours. I also batch plan my work week to make sure that everything gets done. For example on Monday and Wednesday’s I check in on and do my bookkeeping tasks. On Tuesday I write copy and/or blog posts for my website. On Thursday I finish anything from the week and Fridays are my finance days where I log my hours, update my Quickbooks, and write in mileage driven.
04. Treat your business like your main job, not a side hustle
For the first few months of starting this business I was also substitute teaching twice a week. I hadn’t fully committed to the business and thought I could always fall back on something else. When my second son was born and childcare was hard to find I realized that I had to make this happen or it never would. I took substitute teaching off the table so that I couldn’t use it as a fall-back option anymore, I rebranded to open up more clientele options, and I took it seriously! The crazy thing is that when I treated it like my actual job and put working hours toward it the income started flowing and clients started coming.
05. Educate yourself
As an entrepreneur it is well worth it to familiarize yourself with the not-so-fun parts of owning a business, such as taxes, accounting options, business entities etc. It will save you major headaches in the future if you set yourself up well from the beginning. Don’t rush into your business without researching your state’s business laws and requirements. Keep meticulous track of your income and expenses to help you with tax season, and set aside about 20% of your income to use to pay your taxes.