Lessons Learned – My first 18 Months In Business

If someone had told me what a roller coaster of emotions, income and workload I would go through when setting up my own business would I have done it anyway?

Hell yes.

There have been so many ups and downs in this last 18 months you wouldn’t believe it and at times I have struggled with what to do next yet I don’t regret a second of it.

So on Monday 18th I will have been in business for a year and 6 months and there are a few things that I’ve learned that I thought I would share with you.

  • You don’t need all of the expensive systems to do work that works in your new business.
    • That’s right, you can invoice, build a CRM, create graphics, have a basic (but good looking) website and market to your prospective customers for little to no money. Don’t be fooled into running before you can walk with investments for these things. You absolutely can have a successful business using the free or budget versions with a view to upgrading when you outgrow it.
  • You will work more hours a week than you ever have before.
    • Totally not what you were expecting but yes, you have more drive, more passion and spend every waking second thinking about or working on your business. Way more hours than you probably did in an employed job. Be prepared for it but don’t forget much of that wont really even feel like work and it will all be worth it.
  • You wont know what you don’t know until it bites you on the bum.
    • There will be things that crop up that you quite literally never could have expected. You will feel dumb. You’re not dumb, you just don’t know what you don’t know. Learn or hire.
  • Your business will change faster than the Aldi checkout staff scan and slide your groceries into your trolley.
    • Oh my, if I had a set idea for my business I would be crushed under the weight of change by now. Your business will change and evolve, some through you, some through outside forces and some because it will to some extent take on a life of it’s own. Buckle up buttercup.
  • You wont become rich overnight.
    • Obvious I know but it’s hard not to get caught up in how much money you can make if all your products or services sell for full price. Assume that much like an email list your conversion to sales will be about 1% of how many people connect with you and you’ll be closer to the ball park. (Though I truly hope your business is a resounding overnight success and sell out at full price every. single. time) Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t.
  • It’s lonely and liberating all at once.
    • When you’re the boss, where the buck stops and particularly in a sole trader/small business model it can be quite an isolating experience. There are so many great forums out there, use social media to make friends who are in a similar position. Their support will be worth it’s weight in gold!
  • You must look after your health every single day as your priority.
    • It’s so easy to become all engrossed in your business particularly as you start out. It’s as it should be but as Denise Duffield-Thomas says, YOU are the golden goose. You cannot work well if you are un-well so 1st priority everyday should be to look after your health.
  • Your family and friends may support you but they really may not understand what you do. It’s your responsibility to create any necessary boundaries.
    • Working for yourself means you need to motivate yourself, cheer yourself on and maintain any boundaries necessary to building your business. I needed to stop the constant unexpected drop by’s. I needed to create a mini (flexible) schedule and I needed to have conversations with friends and family about what I was doing and why I was doing it.
  • Summer holidays are pants for sales.
    • Well, certainly in my business which is a consultancy/service based business. Summer holidays are a time when people are away, otherwise occupied or spending money on experiences and activities. Preparation is key.

I could go on and on about all of the amazing, hard, fun, interesting, disappointing, financial lessons I have learned over the last 18 months but I think I’ll save some of those for other blog posts!

If you’re interested in the day to day of what it’s like to run your own business why not connect with me on Instagram? TheAmyJohnsonSD

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