Five things I learned in my first year in business
It may not feel like 2016 is winding down yet – more like a crazy sprint to the finish line. But my thoughts are already turning to the year in the rear view mirror. That’s because just over one year ago, I officially walked out of my corporate job and into completely unknown territory.
Before I made the move, my husband and I were sick (literally) of the long daycare days, resulting in constant colds and gastro bugs. We agreed that if I made half of my corporate salary in the first year, we’d be happy. And we certainly never doubted whether the kids would be better off.
Be brave enough to take the plunge
So the bullet was bitten, and – to my amazement – within months I was so busy that I couldn’t fit my work into part-time hours and we had to hire a nanny. I was easily making another third on top of my previous corporate salary. Without commuting to work in the city, I was spending much more time with my little ones – and best of all nobody expected me to be in the office from early till late, every day.
I’d been quaking in my boots that nobody would hire me – but I was wrong. There are many, many businesses out there that need a great business writer to get their messages across powerfully. I realised that my little business had potential. If I played small, I’d be missing out. Although I was (and still am!) good at business writing, there’s a bigger picture.
Get great support and advice
I started looking around for advice, support and leadership. I found the Key Person of Influence program, which has been an incredible journey. And through a lot of hard work to uncover my true passion and purpose, I realised that what I really do – and what I really love – is helping businesses tell their stories well.
Find your passion
Storytelling is getting a lot of airtime at the moment, because we’ve collectively started to wake up to its power. Which is odd, because humans have used stories to transmit information since the dawn of language. Somehow, in the workplaces of the 20th century we began to value facts over emotional connection. We forgot the power of storytelling to engage, enthrall, activate and create a long-lasting impression.
Thought leaders like Richard Branson, Peter Guber, Carmine Gallo and Gary Vaynerchuck are bringing story back. But, still, few businesses know how to make it work for them in practice.
That’s why I’m building my offering around storytelling. I want to help businesses engage and motivate audiences to get more customers. Especially businesses that have a great story to tell or are solving big problems in our society.
After my first year in business, I feel that my journey really starts here. This year I laid the foundations – next year I’m building the launchpad!
Five top tips from my first year in business
Here’s what I learned in my first year, so maybe if you’re reading this and you’re thinking of setting out on your own, you can skip these mistakes and go straight to the successes.
- Ask for what you’re worth. When you set your rate too low, you’ll resent every piece of work you do for that client. Conversely, when you feel you’re paid fairly, you’ll go out of your way to go above and beyond for those clients.
- Tell everyone what you’re doing. Word of mouth is the best way to get new business. It’s still how I get all my clients.
- Educate yourself. There are so many resources for small businesses and solopreneurs nowadays. When I worked for a big corporate there was never any budget to get trained on the things I was really interested in. Now, I can develop any skills I choose. Invest in yourself.
- Don’t over-engineer. Everyone will tell you that you need this or that accounting software, this or that co-working tool. Don’t bother until you can’t manage anymore with the tools you’ve got.
- Don’t outsource to Upwork, Fiver or any of those other virtual resources. Every single time I’ve done it, it’s been a waste of my time and money. Get an assistant, by all means – if you’ve got the work for them. Just don’t make it a virtual one.
So there you have it – my five top tips from 2016. Now it’s time to to make some new mistakes and learn some new stuff in 2017….