by Charlene Grant
You are doing what?
If anyone told me I would be running my own business while raising four children in the middle of a pandemic, I would have given them a strong side-eye! Here I am, 4 months later doing just that! The road to becoming your own boss is not easy, you must have a certain amount of resilience to handle naysayers however well intended they may be. You also need to embrace and respond positively to fear, as, the other side of fear is success, get out of your own way first! The rest is just background noise, let me explain a little.
Whether we tap into and harness our skills throughout life or not, we are all skilled in one way or another. Sometimes we are scared to use them as utilising and showcasing skills comes with a level of responsibility, be it consistency or expectations from others.
The art of balancing your skillset and passion is a challenging one, but in my humble opinion, it provides the foundation of your business. To succeed in business not only takes perseverance and consistency, in most cases, you need to enjoy what you are doing! Ok, so you have identified a business idea that speaks to both passion and skills? Good, that is the first part. Now you must work out who is interested in what you are offering, where do they live? Where do they seek information? This is referred to as a ‘customer persona’. Research is fundamental and includes, customer behaviours and desires, competitors, pricing structure, legal structure for your business and the list goes on and on.
The good, the bad and the challenging
What you must bear in mind is that you will often be a one-man band and need to develop a project plan allowing for the time to get these important tasks done alongside your day to day, which may also include a 9-5pm. A project plan helps you to focus your activities on tasks that matter and prevents (hopefully) the drifting into other areas of research that are not necessary at the beginning of your business! I learned this the hard way. I do love a bit of research and legal stalking and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all, so what you also need to do is decide on a launch date for your business, so you stay on track, on task and on time. If you can allocate tasks to family and friends, that is great, but do not depend on it and factor in the additional time needed if people aren’t able to work as quickly as you’d like.
Are you ready?
Once you have achieved all your many carefully planned tasks and goals, you will be ready to launch your business, now here are some key pieces of guidance for you to consider. You do not have to get everything perfect for launch! I launched my business without a logo! Long story, but the moral of which is that perfection and procrastination is the killer of progress and your focus at this point is to let customers know you have entered the marketplace and ready to address their pain points. But I’ve launched, where is everyone?
This stage of your business preparation will be the most nerve wracking as, even with all your research you simply have no idea of knowing how your business offer will be received or when you will get your first client. Patience is key, success does not happen overnight, speaking of which, you may already have an idea of what success will look like for you in month 1, 3 or 6. Many businesses make very little in the first year so it is important to manage your expectations and focus on your goals and activities to help your business grow, some of which should include:
- A marketing, brand and social media strategy and plan
- Content production plan
- Courses (you never stop learning)
- Daily task scheduling
- Website maintenance
- Analytical evaluations
- Get outside your head!
Imposter syndrome has entered the chat. It happens to the best of us where we are consumed with thoughts of not being as good as everyone else in the same niche as you. The good thing is your power is YOU. No one can do what you do, or how you do it. Embrace it, keep yourself focused on growing your business, your knowledge and practices as well as listening to your audience.
Consider getting a coach. Coaching allows you to express your frustrations and challenges (and successes) in a productive way that allows for reflection, action and growth.
Community over competition
The very nature of the human experience is to feel envious over others; while natural, try your best to curb this and see your competitors as a member of the community of your niche. Working in collaboration is extremely effective for both parties and solidarity shows the willingness to support and work with others for the greater good of your customers.
Authenticity is the order of the day.
Staying true to who you are, what your brand/business stands for and your business practices will resonate with your audience and anyone watching. Remember your “why”, especially your drive to do what you do outside of making profits. Ensure that message shines through.
Do not be discouraged!
Be patient and kind to yourself. Running your own business can be very frustrating, challenging, and lonely. It is also important to ensure you are achieving the best work life balance possible, still remembering to do the things you love, whether it be reading, yoga or bungee jumping! Whatever provides you with the ability to unwind and destress, get to it!
We are our worst critic! Let’s address the elephant in the room, women want to achieve perfection before they feel accomplished, compared to their male counterparts. I’m here to tell you perfection does not exist! It is easy to become disheartened if you are not getting the traction you initially envisaged, keep going, review your strategy and ask your audience for feedback. Co-creation is a great way to ensure you are providing and tweaking products and services to fit the ever-changing needs of your target audience.
Be the best you for yourself and the customers you serve! Now go and shine!