This May, I will have been self employed for 4 years. Perhaps you yourself are newly self employed, or perhaps you are someone thinking of making that leap. There is no easy way around it. Self employment, running your own business is hard. Period. But it is also very rewarding! Nothing feels better than hitting those milestones or goals you have set for yourself. Nothing beats the sound of sale notifications if you own a web shop. Connecting with your audience is worth all the hard. That being said, I wish I had known some things at the beginning that I knew now to make the ride just a bit easier. Here are my 5 tips for surviving your first years of business.
1. Don’t set impossible goals.
This is a big one. We are all so ambitious right in the beginning with ideas burning in our brains. You think that it is brilliant (and maybe it is!). But lets get real. As brilliant as that idea is, you need to work to get everyone else to see it too. This takes time. No matter what the idea is. Don’t expect to make a ton of sales in your first month, or heck in your first months. Don’t expect a high number of blog views in the beginning. Set small goals. It feels much better to hit these small goals than never hitting your impossibly big goals. Set goals in steps. First set a goal of for example, 4 sales a month in the beginning. Then plan out goals you want to hit once you have hit that goal. Build your goals up. This way you will always be working towards these goals in manageable segments. This will really help keep your moral up.
2. Start Small
When I opened my first web shop I had so many plans for it. I wanted to add so many things to it. And I wanted to do it all myself. I opened a photography prop shop where I sold backdrops, handmade dresses, hand woven wool blankets, and pretty much anything else I thought should be in it. I expanded my stock very quickly.. and ended up not being about to keep up with it and made promises of new products that never came to be. I felt like I had to keep offering new things, more things to keep my customers enticed to come to my shop. This pretty much blew up in my face. I had too much on my plate, too much to focus on and ended up loosing money. I took a step back, and decided to focus. And Mini Backdrops was born, and it has gone so much better than I could imagined. You don’t need to do everything. You do need to your job properly and professionally. This is easier when you start small.
3. Don’t Compare
This was a hard one for me. In my first year I found myself constantly comparing my work to others. My other job is a photography, and as you can image constant comparisons can become really depressing! There will always be someone doing it better than you. If you compare yourself to someone who has been in the business for years, you are setting yourself up for failure. Or at the very least, feeling like a failure. This kind of leads back to number 1. Don’t set impossible goals. Focus on you. Your business. You are not that other business that you are comparing yourself to. You don’t want to be that other business. Your customers will come to you because you are not that business.
4. Don’t be afraid to fail
Failures happen. Sometimes they are hard to take. But failures are okay, and you should be open to accepting them when they come. Not all ideas are good ideas. Does that mean you shouldn’t explore them. No of course not, sometimes it is not until we give it a try that we realize that they are not going to work. Fail. Then learn from them and move forward. Look at what worked and didn’t work. It is important to remember that failure and giving up are not the same thing. It is okay to fail, but it doesn’t mean you should give up.
5. Find a tribe
I think this is the most important one on my list. Find a tribe, a group of people that you can talk with, share experiences with and lift each other up. It is great if you can find a group in your local area. A lot of areas have networking groups with weekly/monthly meetings. These are a great place to get to know others with all levels of experinces. If this is not possible in you area, then Facebook is a great alternative. There are group for everything on there and I have made connections with some really wonderful people there.
Here are two to get you started:
Without these and some other Facebook groups to share experiences with and to connect with others in similar positions I probably would have given up or continued drowning. They are 100% worth the time I spent connecting with others every day.
Those are my 5 tips for surviving your first few years in business for yourself.