So, one of my best friends and I both started working full-time for our new business at the beginning of 2019! – We’ve been doing this work on the side since 2016, but due to her six month plan, and my unexpected unemployment, we decided to give this owning our own business thing a for real shot!..
Boy has it been insane.
And worth every bit of it all…
Here are some New Business 101 things I’ve learned (and some tips).
Hopefully this is a helpful place for you to start!
Also, just so we’re clear, I have two masters degrees, ONE OF WHICH IS IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION and I’m so confused most of the time and taking stabs in the dark as we grow and try to improve and create new systems, processes and increase our client numbers! So, don’t feel badly or as if you “should know” something… You can only know what you’ve learned, and everyone has to start somewhere!
It IS overwhelming.
You have to find invoicing platforms, customer management platforms, manage social media, create a logo and website, make business cards (and maybe t-shirts and car magnets!), fill out a load of federal government forms (pro tip: don’t do this during a government shutdown.. it makes it more complicated haha!), THEN you have to fill out a bunch of local government forms… All while actually working to have income, respond in a timely manner, create and send information/estimates/invoices etc..
Just accept it, everything is too much, and that’s ok. It’s an insanely steep learning curve, and you’re knowingly in the dark about what you need to do in order to be officially official.
You Aren’t Perfect, Give Yourself Grace.
But for real, you aren’t perfect… Which means you will mess up, miss deadlines, totally botch a project, miss-price/quote/invoice something, misunderstand, forget to inform… etc..etc.. You will create things that are less than you desire. It’s a part of the process.
Be strategic and learn from everything, but don’t lower your standards for anyone else, don’t be a people pleaser, do your best, work so hard, and remember that no one is perfect.
Learn from it all, and you will grow and create some incredible things!
Creating a Business is a Steep Learning Curve!
You’ve likely never done this before, so no matter how much you google new business things, you’re absolutely going to miss crucial bits of the process; accept it and give yourself grace.So, here are some helpful tips that I learned about where to start:
~ Business 101 is hard to figure out, this website has helpful info.
~ Get an FEIN (or EIN – Employer Identification Number) You can’t really do much without it, so start here with the officially official stuff.
~ Get business insurance. Like for real, you’ll feel better… plus you need it to get a business license.
~ Build a website, even if it is simple and not completed, you can add and change it later. But, having a website is huge for people looking into you, and take the tutorial on SEO and follow the prompts to help you get found!
~ Social media is a must. – Create a Facebook page, Instagram account, and/or Twitter account. – People want to be able to find you. Don’t feel like you have to do all of them like a crazy person, pick two, and create a presence.
~ Get a Yelp Business page.
~ Once you have your EIN number/documents in hand, go to your state’s government page and fill out the application for a local business license.. Then take it to the local office and start the soul-sucking process of wasting hours of your time as you navigate what additional paperwork you need to run correctly..
A few examples of things you may need or need to get:
~ Proof of business insurance,
~ Home occupancy (unless you are renting somewhere, then you’ll need a different type of occupancy),
~ Certification of clean hands (meaning you don’t owe them money),
~ Sales license,
And depending on the industry, there’s a slew of other things…But, there’s no substitute for going to your local government office and being super kind to each person you get in front of because they really will help you figure it all out… It will take hours, it will be frustrating, and you will probably have to return numerous times… But, go when you have nowhere else to be that day, and go around 10:30am (that’s when I’ve found there to be less of a line).
~ Also, look into health insurance for yourself.. It’s hard to navigate, but give yourself time to figure it out!Everything takes money, but it doesn’t all have to be done before you can “start” your business.
~ GET. A. CPA. – Save 30% of everything you make after expenses for taxes, that need to be paid quarterly. You do NOT want to forget and have to scramble the money together…
~ In the beginning, save 10% of your income as part of your business growth. You need to start immediately putting money away in case things happen, then you don’t have to pull it out of your personal finances, but it also starts setting your business up to be self-sustaining.
~ Review everything every 3 months or so to make sure you’re on track and everything makes sense.
Everything Takes More Time than you expect and ever could anticipate!
As in, the number of admin hours you’ll need, double it at least.The length of time it will take to complete a project, communicate all the things, fix something, forget something, go get more materials etc… You will need to give yourself SO MUCH EXTRA time.
Give yourself grace, because it takes much longer than you expect or think is acceptable, and it will take longer than your clients/customers think makes sense. – So, overestimate the time it will take you to reduce your own stress level!
TAKE TIME OFF.
Just do it.
I picked one day a week that I do no work at all.
No invoices, no text messages, no e-mails, no discussing projects, no errands for work. Literally nothing.If at all possible, choose a time of the day when you “call it” quits. Otherwise it’s easy to get up earlier and stay up later trying to “get ahead” of your workload. This will never happen, you will never catch up (that means your business is doing great!), instead, recognize that the work will still be there tomorrow, and you can only do as much as possible each day while still choosing to have a healthy balance. Once you’ve gotten the hang of your schedule, start literally scheduling more time off – one Saturday a month, vacations in the future etc.. You have to plan for things or they will never happen…
AND, if you are running your own business, you have to choose a few things that make you feel the freedom and joy that got you started down this path! – For me, it’s not having to get up early everyday, my peak hours are 9pm-11pm… Which means I’m in bed after 11 most nights, which means getting up before 7am makes me not so much fun.
You need people around you.
For your own health and well-being, you need people who bring you life, and help you stay balanced.
No matter the work you’re doing, if you are in business with someone else, married, single etc.. You need people who will keep you balanced, focused, encouraged, and help you navigate when enough is enough.
For me, it is my roommates and close friends, they have literally closed my laptop while I’m sitting on the couch and said “That’s enough today, it’s time to eat and watch tv, it is 8pm.”
Your close people, also can help you stay encouraged when you’re so stressed you don’t see the good and productive… Or on those bad weeks when your clients/customers are just making your feel awful.
Let others love you as you climb this steep learning curve of a mountain.
Don’t Read the Comments.
If and when you get some publicity, don’t read the comments online. It is where the cesspool of humanity goes to entertain themselves.
Even if the comments are 98% encouraging and supportive, you will ONLY remember and obsess over the 2% that probably are just spewing totally wrong information.
If you do end up accidentally reading the comments, do.not.respond. It will only make your life miserable and more stressed and no one will win.Additional pro-tip:
It is important to remember that misinformation, misquotes, and misunderstandings are likely to be shared… and maybe even intensely argued about in the comments or reviews.
Choose wisely what and how.. or even IF you want/need to correct the information. If it doesn’t ultimately matter, then let it go and leave it alone.
If it is important to correct the misinformation, be sure to do it with the utmost professionalism and kindness. Don’t add to the fire.
Live (or die) By Your Calendar.
Everything is scheduled, and I’m SO NOT A SCHEDULE PERSON. – I thrive off of “winging it” and “flying by the seat of my pants” …. However, that’s a poor business strategy, and you don’t have time for that.
The reality is, if it isn’t scheduled, you’ll either forget it, not have enough time to complete the project, have too many interruptions, miss stages of the process, or forget that traffic impacts your ability to get places… Put it on your calendar, then live by it and let people know that if it isn’t scheduled you’ll forget about it.
Having it on the calendar helps reduce your stress because you avoid the “am I forgetting something” brain obsession.
Every little good or great thing, celebrate it. It’s a motto my house of friends and I live by: You completed your first project? Definitely calls for pizza.
You made your sales goal: Ice cream it is!
You survived the first month full-time? Means it is time to treat yourself to the movies.
Completed all the paperwork for your business license? Champagne toast it is!
Make any and every small good thing a reason to celebrate. Owning and running your own business is SO hard and SO stressful, which means you have to create space for the good things and build memories that help counteract the stressful ones.
Reach Out to Others.
It is really important to ask others for help, advice, tips, support etc..
~ What books should you read? (I’m currently reading The Pumpkin Plan)
~ What platform is the best bang for your buck for customer management? (HoneyBook is my recommendation, but Dubsado is another one that my friends recommend – Let me know and I can get you a referral link!)
~ Where do you get more clients? (We have found major success with Thumbtack)
~ Am I the only one who is overwhelmed and confused? – Nope. Welcome, it’s how we all feel.
~ Where can you find your community? By searching hashtags associated with your industry, we have found that Instagram is where it’s at for our industry and the community is SO fun and encouraging, full of incredible people, support and tips… And #stickerswaps!
Enjoy the ride, it is crazy, hard, exciting, overwhelming, full of adventure and meltdowns!
But don’t forget to have fun with the process, and remember why you are doing this!
If You’re a Woman: Welcome to the Club!
It’s SO fun being a Woman owned business! – It’s like you’re magically a part of a new group of encouraging women!
But, if you celebrate it (especially in March, which is Women’s History Month) people will hate on you, others will come out in full force to celebrate you, and it will be confusing but also SO fun!
You will start seeing and wanting to support other women owned businesses, and you’ll find that other women want to support you because they’ve been there or love your dream!
Some men will be very encouraging, others will be clueless, others will be ignorant, and others will be mean. – Don’t take any of it personal, enjoy the good, give patience and grace for the bad, and forgive the hurtful things, and move on.
Reach out to me!
I’d love to connect with you, encourage and support you, and share whatever little bit of information I have gained… Or pick your brain for what you know!
We haven’t been doing this business thing full-time for long… as in, we could still count in weeks like you do with a newborn baby!.. However, we are learning, growing, determined, and working so hard! Occasionally I’ll probably share more here about what I’m learning (in business and life) as always.