Making the move from working for a company to starting your own business is both exciting and terrifying; the possibilities are endless (in either the positive or negative direction). Quite like life, being an entrepreneur is always a learning experience. Whether you’re in month one, year one or decade one, the evolution never stops.
Here are some lessons I've learned for those of you early on in the game, or as a reminder to reflect for those of you who’ve been on your own for a while.
One of the exciting parts of doing your own thing is that you are in charge of when you work. It’s both freeing and mystifying. Want to take yoga at noon? Awesome. Prefer to work at night? Sounds good. It takes months to realize that this is ok and to embrace it. Finding your way when it comes to when, how and where you work is an experiment. You may find that you’d rather get up really early and be done early in the afternoon when you never saw that coming. There aren’t hard and fast rules. Explore and find out what works best for you. And be certain to communicate what you need to with clients or partners!
Raise your hand if you’re an entrepreneur who spent way too much time trying to master Canva on your own and fought getting help of any kind. I know I’m not alone. Your business will be a success because you rock at the work that you do, not because you saved money creating your own spreadsheets instead of investing in a system to help you out. Or fought getting a scheduling tool because you feel it’s impersonal to not schedule your own meetings. Let go if you’ve got big dreams. Do the math. If it'll take you three hours to do something that you could hire someone else to do in one hour, it’s a no brainer. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing! You’ve got enough on your plate and there are plenty of talented people out there willing to help.
Starting your own business is an emotional rollercoaster. Having what I call “entrepreneur besties” will get you through more than you realize. Not only do you have the support of people who have your back and are willing to find clients for you, but you have people to share war stories and tricks of the trade. Maybe your friend has an SEO wizard they can recommend, or great ideas on how to handle insurance. Your friends are priceless. Build it wisely. There are plenty of events and online communities for entrepreneurs out there. Do the work to find your crew!
When building your business, it can feel like time off is not possible. You have all sorts of “shoulds” floating around in your mind. I should go to this event and meet people. I should work on the finances if I don’t have any meetings today. However, if you are your business and you’re not taking care of you, where do you think that will land you? Vacations are still necessary, even if you don’t have vacation time. Your brain needs time off to reboot so you can return refreshed and ready to go. Take time off! And while we’re at it, be mindful of how you structure your days. Plenty of breaks, time outside and time to think really make a difference.
It’s not uncommon for people to focus on all business all the time. Developing new business, marketing, accounting and beyond are all important. However, as a solopreneur, if you focus only on those aspects of your business and not the skills that got you to where you are, you’ll be missing out. If the crux of your business is coaching, you need to continue to harness your coaching skills along with the other aspects of your business. If you’re a marketing guru, you need to stay up to speed on all things marketing. If you’re a writer, you need to be fine tuning your writing skills on the regular. You need to make time for learning and evolution of your skills no matter the industry. Learning and development doesn’t have to be costly, but it does need to be consistent. Whether it’s reading, listening to TED talks, taking courses or attending events, invest time and money into your growth. It makes a world of difference.
Doing your own thing is hard to explain to those who’ve not tried it. It's scary, exhilarating, challenging, rewarding, frustrating... all of the feels. Save yourself some time and sanity and learn from those who have gone before you! You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be successful. Now go out there, and show them what you’ve got!
Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at www.kellypoulson.com.