Ryan and I have been together for 4 years and 5 days as of today. I left my corporate job as a Customer Relations Manager for a large national company in May 2018 and against lots of well intentioned advice I started my own business.
I dreamt of the lifestyle I wanted. I longed for it, I felt disconnected from my life outside work and I knew I could be more help to more businesses than my job allowed. I had been slapping with ‘the knowing’ and I knew if I didn’t do something to chase those dreams and that lifestyle then I would regret it but there was a problem I was skint.
You see, at the time I was a single mum (Ryan and I didn’t live together then) and all my income had an attached and necessary cost of living outgoing. I earned and I paid out, there was nothing left.
I was blessed to be UK based so our healthcare is free however rental costs were high, running a car is expensive, my son grows like a weed and eats like a football team. Everything he needed came out of my pocket as I don’t receive child maintenance nor did I receive any government assistance (bar the countrywide child benefit of £20.70 per week). Money was never easy to come by and there was almost nothing at the end of the month for savings. I had a teeny tiny bit but not much and every time there was a problem it wiped me out.
I took the leap anyway.
If you find yourself in the same boat then I don’t necessarily recommend quitting your only source of regular income – I chose to do this because my job was increasingly time consuming I was often out of the house at 5 or 6am and not getting home until 8pm, if I was lucky I then had the admin to do until 10 or 11pm and for me the little time I spent not working was dedicated to my son.
I also had multiple impending surgeries and knew that my company sick pay was almost out so would not be getting paid for it anyway (thanks to an injury meaning I was signed off for 3 months in 2017)
Your circumstances need to be considered but if you’re wondering whethe you can start a business as a side hustle or as a full time gig then I am here to tell you yes, if you want it badly enough you 100% can.
I used what little I had to build a website using WordPress and I set declared to my tax office and got my UTR and I was off.
The first 3 months were…bitty…I had help from the local job centre and a built up a small number of clients but it wasn’t easy. I wasn’t rolling in it and I had a couple of clients who consistently didn’t pay.
Not gonna lie, if your business is not making money it’s scary as hell and if that is your full income then sometimes you do need to take a look at it with honesty and make some decisions however, as a general rule of thumb I think you have to believe that you can turn those tables.
When you’re at what feels like rock bottom, like nobody is paying attention (or paying you) then you have to get real with yourself. You’re already giving your perceived all right, so how can you give even more?
I have a few tips learned from hard personal experience that you may find useful.
- Stop being a wallflower. If you want people to know about your business you need to get out of your comfort zone and blow your own trumpet. Tell everyone that will listen, hand out business cards, talk about it in groups or events and networks that you’re a part of. For want of a better phrase, it’s time to consider yourself a walking talking advert for your business. You’re passionate about it right? Well show it, put your (invisible) money where your mouth is and share share share. My only stipulation is do this honestly and as yourself, people can see fake a mile away and wont buy but you know your business better than anyone, you can do this.
- Understand that you don’t know what you don’t know. If there is a part of your business that is holding you back because you simply don’t know the best way to manage it then it’s time to get help. It’s OK not to know everything. You might not be able to afford to pay to expand your team but there are so many free resources available you can learn it well enough to get you through. Make learning a daily practice and you will be the expert in no time. My only stipulation is keep it simple, if it continues to be something you feel is a weakness then play to the strengths you can, spend only the time you need to learn the bare minimum because it wont help you to swallow up all your time for something you would outsource the minute you could afford to. Do what needs to be done.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the people in your life. This may seem obvious but if you’re like me, it’s actually one of the hardest things to do. I needed my partner to take the lead more at home for a while. I have a friend who was an admin genius and was happy to spend a little time helping me for free (we dead-lined this so it was only a list of items with a due date so as to keep the friendship priority) I also managed to get all the hardware help I needed it which took a substantial amount of research off my plate. Then there was the friend who discovered she needed a little of my help and I needed a little of hers so we traded (again this was a set amount of hours). Yo may even find that they are simply a go between for a breakthrough but you don’t get if you don’t ask.
- Get scrappy and determined. Make yourself a short but necessary must do daily list and do it. Every single day. Get out of your own way and post those updates, reach out to those that have taken interest, touch base with those who have bought in the past, talk to those groups, go to those events, share share share. Know it, do it, share it.
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