3 Things My First Business Taught Me
Now, a lot of people do not realize that I started dabbling in entrepreneurship a long time ago, and I have had several businesses. I think people just think I woke up one day and decided to do this one thing and it blew up, but that's not really how it happened.
The very first business I wanted to do was to open up a pet store. Yes, really! Anyone that knows me knows that I am obsessed with animals, especially dogs. It was going to be called Lexi and Lola and I was going to sell custom dog accessories. I purchased the cricket machine, I had a logo and a website ready to go, but at the time I was working 60 hours a week in corporate America and my pet store never really panned out.
Then I left corporate America, and my husband and I moved 18 hours away from home to Florida. I felt like this was the time to finally get a business up and running, and this time I was going to be a virtual assistant. Yes, a lot of people don't know this, but I was dead set on helping people control the chaos. I'm really good at organizing and creating systems, so I thought, “You know what, I'm going to help other people do it.” I literally paid for a certification, and I knew I was going to kill it! But, that lasted all of about three weeks, and I very quickly learned that it was not for me. The idea was great, but it was definitely not for me. That's when I stepped into the design world and that’s what led me into everything I am doing today where I have a very successful design and coaching business.
So that's a little bit of the backstory of my entrepreneurship. But throughout my journey, I learned so much and honestly I wouldn’t change anything about it. I feel like with each of my ventures I learned something that has made me who I am and my business what it is today. So I want to share with you what I learned in creating my first business. Let’s just go ahead and dive in.
3 THINGS MY FIRST BUSINESS TAUGHT ME
1. Stop listening to what everyone else tells you.
Don't take your friends and family's advice. I'm sorry, just don't. Don’t watch to random training and take their word as Bible. So often I see people come in all excited about their new business venture, but then a week later, they'll come back and say, “I talked to my mom and my sister and my husband and this and that. And I just think this is a better route.” Now, I know why you reach out to your family. You want their advice, but at the end of the day, you have to do what's best for you. My husband knows that I will bounce things off of him, but at the end of the day, I will do what I want to do, especially when it comes to my business. He'll always give me advice and things like that, but he ultimately always tells me to do what feels good to me.
So with that being said, when it comes to really growing a business or doing what you want to do, follow your gut. You've got to trust your gut and go with what you feel like is best. You may be thinking, “How do I know what my gut is telling me?”. It sounds cheesy, but you just know. I don't know how to explain it. I tell people all the time, when you're in alignment with what you're supposed to be doing, it just easily flows out and feels good. That's the best way to explain it. We second guess ourselves and seek validation because it's so new, but that validation can lead us down roads that aren't meant for us to travel. And for me, I was going to start my VA business because a friend told me that I was “too shy to do other things” and that “introverts won't have success.” Because I listened to her, I set out to be a VA, and let me tell you, I am glad that I trusted my gut in the end. If I hadn’t have trusted my gut, I would be a VA today and be miserable.
2. FOMO is real.
FOMO is completely real, but you're in control. Stop following people you're jealous of. Yes, it's okay to own it. Yes, jealousy's a thing. I get a lot of people who say “I'm not jealous.” Yes, you are and it's okay. It's jealousy and it's comparison, and it creates a feeling of unworthiness. You can mute and unfollow people on social media. And I highly, highly recommend it.
Maybe you’re not jealous of their success, but you could be getting jealous of the fact that that person looks so confident with what they’re doing. There are designers who I follow and when I start feeling like their design is so much better than mine, I unfollow them. There's always going to be somebody out there who does better than you. I truly feel like my online pet boutique never picked up because all I was worried about was buying the super trendy, cool stuff versus actually dealing with the backend stuff to get it running. I was following all these other pet boutiques and seeing what they were getting, and I felt like I needed all those things too. I should have just unfollowed them and stuck to what I needed to do. Because a lot of times we see people online and we don't know what level they're at. We don't know how long they've been doing this.
The same thing goes with what I'm doing. People come in and they think I just woke up and had success. It didn't happen that way. I've been dabbling in entrepreneurship for four or five years now. It took a lot of hard work, but it also took me putting blinders on if I'm completely honest with you. You are the only one in control of what you allow to consume your mind. If your friend Patty is posting a bunch of stuff and it's causing you to feel these feelings, mute her. You are completely in control of your mindset.
The FOMO struggle is completely normal, people just don't talk about it. Even some of the top people I know in the industry who have bigger businesses than me - like multi million dollar businesses - will tell me that it doesn't go away. It's still there. You're always going to find someone who you feel like is “better than you,” or doing something that you feel like you need to be doing even if they're at level Z. You just have to put your blinders on and truly focus on what is in front of you.
3. Start before you're ready.
No one's ever ready. I cannot say this loud enough. You will literally never be ready, seriously. And I'm sure you've heard that before, especially when it comes to having babies. Almost every week, I hear someone say, “I don't feel like I'm ready yet.” They will literally tell me their dreams, their missions, and the difference they want to make in the world. Some want to start non-profits. Some want to coach women on finding confidence. I could go on and on, but when I ask them, “So why aren't you doing that?” They almost always say, “Well, I'm just not ready. I need a website and branding and I need systems. And I don't even know who I'm talking to.” Guys, just start. Seriously, start and figure everything else out as you go. I literally booked three website design clients without even having my own website guys. I was a website designer with no website. Bless them for trusting me, but I just went for it. I knew I needed the income, and I knew that I wanted to make this thing work.
Now disclaimer - are systems and websites and branding and all of that important. Absolutely, but you can do those on your journey. To get your first couple clients and get your feet wet, you do not have to have those things. I know a lot of you expect me to say that you needed those before you even launched. You don’t! They are super important, but when you're first starting. Especially during this pandemic, a lot of clients didn't have a choice but to just start before getting a website and systems. They literally just had to do something to feed their family and fun fact, three of those people are now killing it. They are making so much money monthly. The pandemic was actually a blessing for them because it forced them to start.
TIPS ON GETTING STARTED
1. Share what you'd love to do.
Make a general post on social media about what you'd love to do, and I can guarantee you people will cheer you on. Let's say that you really want to start coaching people. Make a post that says “I've been thinking about coaching people and I was wondering, has anyone here ever worked with a coach or could you see me as a coach?”. Someone asked once, “I'm thinking about opening a life coaching business. Could you answer honestly - could you see me as a life coach?” and they got a ton of feedback. So that is a great way to get out there and start. People may message you and it'll just kind of grow from there.
2. Research others to see how they are doing things.
Now I do not mean get into FOMO. I just told you to put your blinders on. This is different. Here I'm talking about genuine research, not “ let me see what Becky's doing down the street.” For example, if you can't invest in a coach or a course or program right now, then find someone you admire and you like their overall mission (not the way they look, that’s completely different). See how they curate posts, what people are saying on their posts, and what posts get the most engagement. Don't copy them, but just see how they're doing things and start from there. That doesn't mean you're going to do that forever. You're just getting your feet wet and trying to get something going to see if this is even something you’d want to do.
3. Get some test clients.
Reach out to some friends and ask if they would be a test client for you. When I launched my design and branding business, and it grew to six figures, I kept getting a lot of questions about how I did it. How did I do it so quickly? I never thought I was going to be a coach, and then I woke up at 2:00 AM with the gut feeling that I should be a coach. So with that being said, I was nervous. I didn’t know if I really wanted to do this. So I reached out to two friends and said, “Would you be a test client for me? I'm not sure if my systems work, but I want to see if they will.” And they said yes, and they grew very quickly. Once I saw they worked, I was ready to go! I didn’t charge those test clients, but a couple of things that I got from working with them is number one, I knew the area that I really wanted to focus on, which was coaches and creatives. And then number two, it helped me create my systems in a way, because I saw what worked best for them, I saw what flowed really well for them and me. So I highly recommend working with some test clients to start. And I don't mean do a six month coaching program or anything like that. Just do something small like four to six weeks.
So hopefully these help you just start somewhere. The biggest thing I've learned out of having a business is actually starting and staying consistent. So just get out there and start!