“If it were easy everyone would be doing it.” I have heard this many times since I started my business. The thought of owning my business is far different from where it was four years ago. I do not regret a single thing but wish someone would have given me an actual glimpse of what it looked it to prepare myself.
“Money is like oxygen.” Bruno (@bcoelho2000)
If you do not have money, you and your business are dead. It is wise to save up three months or more worth of bills set aside before launching. I did exactly three and it went faster than I anticipated. This resulted in me working multiple jobs just to bring money in. Tip: Save at least six months to a years worth or bills. Avoid credit cards and business loans.
Low-Hanging Fruit vs. Money Makers
When I stated in my business, I needed to build a portfolio to showcase my talent. Imagine going up to a car repair shop and applying for a car mechanic job with no actual experience working on a car. Yeah. Luckily, I found tradeoffs early in my business to get experience under my belt. A local gym needed help with online and local marketing, so in exchange for my services I was given a “free gym membership” and discounted health vitamins.
The low-hanging fruit term is what I call clients and projects that are in front of you. Just because they are in front of you does not mean you should do business with them. These projects and clients can be a distraction or produce low results in your own business while you help them in theirs. We all want to go after the money makers where it’s a mutual tradeoff of time, experience, and pay for both parties involved.
Carry your business card like you carry your cell phone.” @BMSomerville
How many times have you been in a place and meet someone new. You both talk and then you are asked for your business card and you don’t have it on you. Shame, shame. If you carried a stack of business cards like you carry your cell phone, you would ensure you are putting your name out there. No matter where I am, I keep a handful of cards handy to give my information out and to take down information of whom I am speaking with.
Nurture Relationships Before the Dry Spells
After meeting someone, I go through a methodical process that works for me. I exchange information with them and try to connect with them online to start creating a relationship with him or her. Within a week, I try to e-mail them a personalized e-mail reminding him or her how we met and would like to connect with them further. This can by done on LinkedIn or Twitter and ask for a time to talk on the phone or meet again one on one.
When a meeting takes place, I send a thank-you card in the mail thanking them for his or her time. (If you mail it to their office with the Attn: NAME it will get to them without asking for their home address.) During the meeting I take down mental notes that I file in Evernote’s Hello app to remind myself what the other persons interests are ahead of my own. By remembering a few details like this are golden in the world of networking. If I find anything industry related or an article that reminds me of him or her, I send it to them with a casual follow up.
By doing this, a business relationship is now nurtured. When my business runs low on referrals oddly enough my network comes back to me like I have for them in the past. When you have a good networking system, the system works for you and grows your business.
Grow Strengths and Outsource Weaknesses
I am great at strategizing and planning with a creative flare for any industry. I am not good at web coding, SEO, or grant writing. If a client or opportunity comes my way, I can two options: Put a smile on my face, say yes, and ask for help behind closed doors or outsource my project. The latter seems to work best for me. Do you remember the network I was nurturing? I keep them close where I can ask if someone has free time to take on a new project. We discuss the details and I will outsource it to them. I am transparent with the client and tell them I have someone working on it and the project gets done. Everyone is happy.
Hello #HustleMuscle, goodbye 9-5
I set my schedule to get work done. I know what days I work on what and set deadline to keep me on track. The more I juggle, the less I see “regular business hours”. A half day usually means I work anywhere from six to eight hours. A full day means I am working a ten to fifteen hour day. This is not to scare you or brag, but to give you a reality of what it costs to go after what you want.
Schedule Downtime, Rest, & Play
My schedule is determined by me and my workload. When every client and project is scheduled, I go back and schedule “me” time. The mornings are best for me to meditate and pray. The early evenings are better for me to escape for a quick run and make dinner. The mid-afternoons are good for a quick power nap or walk to the local coffee shop. Our bodies are not meant to go, go, go… I notice my body gets exhausted before my mind is tired.
What lessons have you learned running your own business? What advice would you give to other business owners or entrepreneurs?