Solopreneurship is a journey. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it, ha! Did you catch that? You really don’t know what you are missing out on and are uninformed about until you learn it, hear it or make the mistake and by that time it’s far too late. When starting our business, we (my husband and I) didn’t have a clue of what we should be doing and so much of our survival in small business has been a lot of bumping our heads and falling on our face. I wish we would have had a mentor to help us navigate this very long road and I wish we would have had more access to a road map or a list of the “dos and don’t” of how a successful business is run. Although this is neither of those things (but maybe I will get to those in the future) it is a list of things I wish I would have known before starting a small business and I hope that anyone who comes across it finds these words to be a resource for whatever it is that they are going after.
I wish I would have known that the world needs me too and my voice matters.
I think it's really easy to feel like the things we are passionate about or love so much is being done already. It’s like when you buy that pair of jeans, or that new handbag or car. You hardly ever saw them prior to having one on your own, but the minute you decide you want one, you start to see them everywhere. That’s how creative entrepreneurship and small business living can feel like. The minute you decide to go after the thing you want, you start to realize how many of you there really are out there in the world, but the bottom line is that as many of the things there are that are out there that are just like what you want to pursue, there is only one of you and your unique perspective and approach to your business and ideas is different from everything on the market. Even though there are SO many other similar businesses out there, there is still someone out there that needs to hear from you and experience what you have to offer in your way. Get laser focused on creating something that is unique to you and own what you bring to the table. Coffee shops still continue to pop up even with Seattle’s Best, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Don’t psych yourself out.
I wish I would have known to hone in on my “why,” and really flushed it out.
The only way to survive small business - the frustrations of it, the loneliness of it and all of the highs and lows is to understand exactly why it is that you are doing it. It is so often that you have to come back to that “why,” that getting clear on it is imperative. That “why” will lift you out of bed in the morning, make you show up to your voicemail and emails, give you the words to deal with a difficult client, will push you to continue educating yourself on your craft, will see you through hard times, droughts and unexpected changes and will keep you innovating forward. The “why” is the driving force of the business and keeps you both humble and proud all at once. Spend as much time as you can really locking in the reasons why you are pursuing this road and keep them at the forefront of your mind in every decision, in every client and every time you sit down to work.
I wish I would have known what success looks like for me and got really clear on it.
I wish I would have gotten clear on what success looks like for me, for us. Money is one indicator of a successful business, but it certainly isn’t the whole. When we started our business, aside from being able to survive, we weren’t clear on what the markers of success would be and we quickly adopted other people’s ideas and standards around that. The problem with that is we aren’t living other people's lives and what other people may want or need may be completely different from what we need in our world. So after attaining all the things that would call us successful in this business, or me rather, I still felt so empty inside. I really had to go back to the drawing board and tune into what it was that made me feel full in this work. Since doing that again and revisiting our standards, its very easy to celebrate others wins, to say “no,” to certain opportunities that don’t line up with our vision and to feel more whole in this journey.
I wish I would have known in the beginning that I didn’t have to do it all on my own.
When you are starting a business, you are often starting with very little financial resources and many of us start out at a deficit, but even still there are so many ways to get things done. I wish I would have known that I didn’t have to do everything on my own and that I could outsource the parts of the business that are more difficult, frustrating or don’t play to my strengths. Any amount of money that it takes to accomplish a goal is worth it if it saves your precious time and bring you peace. It’s always better to put a job in the hands of someone who is skilled to do it, rather than struggle through it to save a few pennies. There are so many people and things that can be utilized including interns, volunteers, trade and/or barter for services and well as really cheap online template sites like Canva, Etsy or whole websites dedicated to assisting you like Fiverr. You don’t have to do it all and no one expects that you will and while you are outsourcing, you can focus on the things you love that bring joy.
and finally, I wish I would have known to have a strategy around my business and a long-term plan and course of action.
The true road to success in ANYTHING in life is strategy. You need a strategy to lose weight, to save money, to learn a new skill and to run a business. Strategy is the difference between working every day for 10 years doing what you love and working every day for 10 years to build a future for success. Strategy makes it so every season of business, both feast and famine have a goal and a place and it helps move you along toward higher and higher. We haven’t always had a strategy in business besides making enough money to not have to go to work, and although that is goal is a commendable one, it doesn’t have longevity if you don’t have a strategy for how that money is going to work for you. DO NOT and I repeat, do not start anything without thinking through the long -term goals of it, and if planning and strategy isn’t a strong point for you, sit down with a business coach to learn how. One of my favorites is Britney Canidate. She is excellent at what she does and will coach you to success.
Even though I wish I would have known these things before starting my business, I can attest to the strength we have gained figuring them out and I am so happy that we can share our knowledge and lessons to keep others from making some of the same mistakes. If you made it to the end, I hope you were able to take away even one tip that you can apply to your own entrepreneurial journey and if you did, I would love to hear what you gained and how you plan to apply the lesson, in the comments below.
with strength, courage and wisdom