Running a business comes with risks and rewards. In my experience, the rewards are what makes the journey worth every ounce of sweat to make the business work.
Entrepreneurship comes with a ton of sacrifice and hard work. To ensure your business thrives, you have to hustle EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Running a business isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay, but I knew from an early age that this was my path and I’m determined to make it work.
With the new year, I wanted to do something different and write about the 10 things I’ve learned while running a business:
1) Entrepreneurship is a Roller Coaster Ride
Every day I jump out of bed with the motivation to do something that my future self will thank me for. This motivation is derived largely from fear — specifically, the fear of failure.
Another major element that has been added to my motivation and determination of making sure I don’t fail is my new adventure into motherhood. My success doesn’t just solely come down to celebrating it with my husband, but now we can provide for our baby too.
Days and months can be filled with both certainty and uncertainty. Since I’m in the service business — providing marketing help for startups and small businesses — anything can change.
The clients I have today or this month might not be here tomorrow or next month. Things are always changing in business and no matter how great of a relationship I have with my clients, their choices come down to doing what’s best for their business, not me.
I’ve also never been great with sales and have had to learn to accept that doing outreach to 100 people a day could result in zero new qualified leads.
2) Know When to Say No
When I first started, I’d take every meeting and every call. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to get better at saying “no” because as my business grew so did the value of my time.
Another aspect of my work that changed was my ability to let go of control and delegate where needed. So instead of trying to do everything on my own, I began delegating tasks like bookkeeping and tactical executions.
Doing so freed up my time to focus on what really mattered to me and to my business. I was able to focus more on growth initiatives such as sales, business development, and driving strategic conversations with my clients.
3) Be Honest
Knowing my strengths and weaknesses have been key to running a successful business.
For example, it can be tempting to offer more services than I already do, such as PR, but I know that’s not a core competency of mine. Therefore, I’m very clear with potential clients of what my team and I can deliver and what we cannot.
Additionally, the relationships I have with my clients come down to both parties being transparent and honest with one another. This means providing both positive and negative feedback.
Pushing for “honesty is the best policy” has helped me tremendously when it comes to managing expectations with clients and myself.
4) Don’t Just Chase the Money
Early on, a large reason for wanting to run my own company came down to the fact that I would be making more money. However, what I’ve learned is that success and happiness are not a given after landing a big contract.
A key piece of advice I’ve continued to receive from a few of my mentors has been, “Chase the passion and the money will follow.” I never understood that until I started running my company full-time.
Being this way has also helped me be picky about who I choose to bring on as a client, which leads me to my next point…
5) Be Picky
Not every sale is created equal and not every prospect or existing client is going to be a good fit.
I’m just as picky about who I choose to bring on as a client as the client would be about the vendor they outsource their marketing efforts to.
Choosing the right clients to work with and vice versa should be a win-win that includes shared vision, passion, and execution of achieving collective goals.
6) Always Be Helping
Long have passed the days of just selling yourself to potential/existing clients. The key to increasing sales and retention is to always be helping. In other words, add value and fill in gaps that currently exist for the client.
This is why I continue to generate free content for professionals and businesses who want to learn more about how they can execute digital marketing strategies and tactics to grow their company.
7) Never Stop Learning
Every day I make an effort to dedicate thirty minutes to an hour towards learning something new and discovering new trends within the marketing industry.
Here are a few of my favorite resources:
8) Develop Additional Revenue Streams
When I decided to run my company full-time, I signed on a lower amount of clients who were paying higher monthly retainers.
Over time, I learned that going with this particular model was great from an income stance, but that it also added more pressure. If one client didn’t renew, I would feel like I lost a big portion of my revenue.
The vision for my marketing firm wasn’t to become the next biggest agency and I definitely didn’t want to hire more people in-house because we were operating with high margins.
So here were a few things I began doing to diversify my income streams:
- Blogged more frequently. This was key because the more traffic I drove to my site, the more I earned off of Google Adsense. Of course, it wasn’t a substantial amount, but enough for me to see that there was life there.
- Pushed for a second segment by helping small businesses. For years, I turned away small business owners who approached me for marketing help. But now I created a model that works well by providing small businesses with an affordable marketing solution.
- Affiliate marketing. This was a great way for me to get down with the nitty-gritty aspects of Internet marketing by promoting other products and services in exchange for a percentage of revenue off each sale.
That said, one of my favorite profiles on Instagram is Before5am by Joe Duncan. He posted the following and it resonated so deeply with me:
“I work so hard, so I never have to be at the mercy of someone else’s choices, power trip or kindness.
If You need an incentive to be successful and financially free then there most probably is no bigger incentive than being able to live life on your own terms and not be a victim of others people decisions.
We have all been subject to someone else’s decisions in our life time whether it’s your boss or land lord or client and we’ve all had to suffer through certain things in our life simply because we aren’t in a position to make another choice or have the freedom to do what you really want to do or say what you really want to say!
That. Ends. Today!
Make it your mission to be so successful and financially independent that no one or nothing can control you or your life and make a stand to never be a victim of someone else’s choices but rather have complete control of your life and have the freedom to do what you want…when you want!
I hope this ignites a fire within you to stop wasting your time, money and talents and put yourself in a powerful position to truly be free on this planet and live life on your own terms!”
9) Build a Personal Brand
Getting down to the basics: people buy from people. For this very reason, I’ve continued to build my personal brand in conjunction with promoting the services of my company.
It’s about putting a face to the overall brand and that’s why I have this blog. Not only does it serve as a way for me to brand my expertise, it also serves as a creative outlet for me to write about the very topic I’m so passionate about — marketing!
10) Get Shit Done
90% doing, 10% thinking is the mantra I push for myself and for my team. In order to understand if what we’re doing is working or not, we have to continually execute and test.
I’ve also learned to be okay with accepting that not every marketing campaign will be a success, but what’s more important is to take the results, learn from them and make improvements.
Finally, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for a few months or a few decades, every business shares the same challenges and goals of, “how do we get more customers?”
This is also another driver for me and why it isn’t so much about getting more customers, but more about how I can add more value and help individuals grow their business.