When I started flirting with the idea of becoming a serious entrepreneur, I literally had no clue what I needed to know or do at that time to “make it”. How could I have known, though? I didn’t really know anyone personally I could talk to at the time that had been making a steady income by working for themselves. Although I haven’t quite yet replaced my former teaching salary, I still thought it would be cruel and unusual punishment if I held out on giving my fellow aspiring entrepreneurs this information.
So, here I am, tea in hand and waiting for you to whip out that notepad so you can take notes. Ready? Good. Here are 10 things you need to consider as you start out on this new adventure.
1. Know your story.
Before beginning your biz endeavors, know why you want to do this. Why is it important to you to start your biz? What have you overcome? What injustices have you witnessed that made you feel like you just had to do something about it? What can your past teach someone else? If you don’t know your “why”, you will get lost very quickly. So, take some time to reflect on why you want to be the next great boss babe and get major clarity on that before you do anything else.
2. Know your niche and target audience.
What’s a niche? What’s a target audience? Well, a niche is pretty much your specialty. What service do you provide for others? A target audience is a group of people you cater to.
So, why do you even need to know these things? Well, you need to know if what you’re offering is even going to be of value to anyone. You need to know how you can actually solve someone’s problem with your service or product. Without knowing these things, it will be very difficult to attract anyone to work with you. So, essentially, you need to know what you do and who you serve.
3. Create meaningful relationships.
It really helps to have already started building relationships with people--especially those in your target audience--before you even launch your services. Why? It’s simple. People buy from those they know, like, and trust. Think about it. You generally buy your clothes from places you’ve had good experiences with, right? Well, if there’s a new place in town, are you more likely to check them out after getting a flyer from them or if your friend says she’s been there already and can vouch for their awesome stuff? I can’t tell you how many flyers I’ve trashed, but I sure can tell you I’ve checked out places after someone I know gave me a good review. Why? Because I trust my friends know me and wouldn’t send me anywhere that I wouldn’t be interested in.
So, what does this all mean? Are you doomed? No. Not at all. It just means you need to start making some genuine connections with people. Find out what makes them who they are. Share a bit about who you are without coming across as someone who’s trying to make a sale. Yes, we all need to earn a living, but you also need to genuinely want to connect with people because you want to help them solve their biggest struggle--not because you want their money.
4. Build your authority.
There are many ways to build your authority. You could write a book or do a joint collaboration with someone who has a following already. But why? Why do you need to build your authority? Because it will position you as an expert in your niche (or specialty). Don’t expect everyone to buy your product or service just because you said you can deliver. I hate to break it to you, darling, but many people want to see a track record before pulling out the Benjamins.
5. Have a biz plan and budget.
I have said this a few times in some of my other posts, but I’ll say it again: If you fail to plan, plan to fail. You need to know where you’re going with this biz of yours. Having clarity of why you’re in business, who you serve, what you will do, how you will do, etc. will all be essential to your success. And speaking of success, how will you know if your biz is a success if you haven’t even determined what success will look like for you? If you’re a little confused in this area, read this post and grab this free worksheet to help you figure out what success will look like for you and your biz.
Don’t forget about the money, friend! How do you expect to pay for expenses? Where will you draw money from if your income falls short? Don’t let your biz fall apart because you couldn’t fund it. Have a strategy in place to help you grow. You want to be a biz owner, not a hobbyist.
6. Have a marketing strategy.
The last thing you want to do is market your product or service and hear nothing but crickets!!! You desperately need to plan how you’re going to get the word out before your launch. This is one reason why forming genuine relationships with others will help. If you’ve done well in this area, you may be able to have some of these people help you market. This works in your favor because it comes across really well when you have others tooting your horn for you!
7. Work with others--not against them.
When I first started, I thought I had to be in competition with every other business. I was so wrong. Instead of working against others, why not forge relationships and work with other businesses?
How can this work for you? Well, if you’re really good at helping people develop a healthy lifestyle, you could find a way to work with a fashion stylist (or someone else who complements your business) and drive traffic to each other whenever possible. If you’re a photographer that specializes in wedding pictures, you could also make arrangements to send traffic to a good baby photographer you know. Simply put, don’t think of your competition as your enemy. When you change your mindset about your competition, you’ll notice you have more opportunities than you could have imagined.
8. Try new things.
I know it’s tough, but you have to learn how to embrace trying new things. You may have planned on advertising a certain way, but if it’s not working, then you need to make adjustments--pronto.
Here’s another thing. You may start out thinking you want to pursue a particular specialty, but decide to do something different later on that addresses your target audience’s needs at that time. Guess what? That’s okay. Now, I’m not saying you need to keep changing what you do every six months, but I don’t want you to think that you have to be a brand strategist for the rest of your life just because that’s what you do now. You can change paths later on if you feel the need to go in a different direction. Just make sure you prep your audience for the new change.
9. Implement effective systems.
Systems keep you going and decrease your stress load. As a former teacher, I can remember having a certain system for grading and scheduling assessments. This made my life a lot easier, and I knew what to look forward to. Now, the systems that work for me, may not work for you. That’s A-okay! You’ll never know until you try, though.
10. Be you and enjoy the journey.
I know I’ve mentioned this in a few of my posts, but it is so important that I thought I would share it again today. Always be you. People want to identify with you--not a copycat. There may be hundreds of people in your niche doing what you’re doing, but there’s only one you, and that’s what sets you apart, friend. Your journey may take longer or shorter than someone else. Don’t compare. Just know that your experiences aren’t just to help you--they’re going to help someone else who’s feeling just like you are right now.