I’m not going to lie: I’m pretty proud of myself. In 2007, I took a huge risk, stepped away from an old dream of being on Broadway, and embarked on a new one. I looked deep into my gut and asked myself: What do I want to do? What do I know I can be great at? How can I make that happen?
When the idea of career coaching first peeped up in my gut/heart/head, it of course felt crazy. This was something totally brand new, something I never “dreamed about as a kid,” something I didn’t see coming. But, that peep eventually became an undeniable calling, and here I am so many years later with a thriving business and the satisfaction and amazement of having helped thousands of other creative women listen to their gut peeps, too.
Was this dream-come-true a walk in the park? Did the universe unfold before me and show me the answers? Did I have one of those epiphanies where everything suddenly makes sense and nothing is bad or sad or scary?
Helllllll no. Not even close. It was hard. It was confusing. A lot of times I felt totally lost… but thank goddess I didn’t deny myself that new dream because it was so, so worth it.
If there is one thing I can do in my role as The When I Grow Up Coach, it is to share some of the wisdom I learned along the way and try to smooth out those bumps for my clients. This #insight is on the house.
Here are 10 things I wish I’d known about starting a business (in no particular order):
- Set measurable goals when it comes to getting ready to leave your job. In 2008, I set some business goals that sounded like this: “Get certified, build up a savings with enough money to not have to worry about making money for a few months, get enough clients and consultations coming in to feel like people in the world knew who I was, and to have a professionally designed website.” Here is the thing, “enough” is not the same thing as a measurable goal. It was an arbitrary disclaimer that I used as a placeholder until I figured out what the heck I was actually doing… If instead, I decided in advance that I needed, say, $5000 in savings or 3 new clients a month, I think the 2 years and 7 months it took me to leave my job would have been reduced by at least a few months if not more.
- You will not replace your “real job” income right away. Seriously. It’s impossible unless you’re a superhero who doesn’t need sleep or you launch a Kickstarter that goes viral or you get on Shark Tank and money is thrown at you even though you have no sales (the Sharks hate that). Expect 3 or more lean-ish months to start, and a full year in business full-time before you can compete with your former self.
- Experiment. Forever. With your schedule. With your offerings. With your time. With your money. With your priorities. With your clients. Keep your eyes open on what’s working. Tweak what isn’t. Drop what feels like a drain. Rinse and repeat until retirement.
- Working 8 hours each day is not necessary. Think about the 40 hour workweek (or more) you’d have at your day job. Would you really work a full 8 hour day? Does anyone? Between lunch hours, bathroom breaks, coffee runs and water cooler chats – not to mention procrastinating on Facebook – your 8 hour work day probably was closer to 5ish. A recent study actually showed that the average 9-to-5 worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes a day. 2 hours and 53 minutes a day! So don’t run yourself ragged or guilt yourself over not working 40 hours each week on your biz. You do not need to run yourself into the ground to be successful.
- Take a Business Building Day each month. Put it on the calendar and make it sacred by not booking any calls or meetings that day. I try to schedule mine the first business day of each month, so I can reflect on the past month by going over my wins, challenges, money made and spent, etc. This is what makes you a pro-active business owner instead of a reactive business owner.
- Talk about your dream business as early and as often as possible. Yes, it’s scary to tell people about your business, especially before it becomes “real” (a.k.a. it’s your full-time gig that comes with full-time money). But the earlier you answer the “So, what do you do?” question with something about your business, the earlier doors open for you.
- Say YES to everything, and be fearless in pitching yourself. Someone wants to interview you for their blog? YES. Someone wants to collaborate with you on a project (and you feel good working with them)? YES. Someone offers you an introduction to a potential client? YES. Say YES always, and be pro-active about it by approaching the people you want to feature you with a personalized email request. I know it’s scary, but it’s also so worthwhile.
- Know that you can’t walk anyone else’s path. Sure, there are tons of people who are gonna tell you how you can make big money by taking their marketing programs, and yes, the honest ones are sharing what has worked for them…but that is not a formula for your success. You can absolutely learn from these women, but you also have to shut out your “shoulds” and know that you’ll have to discover and walk your own path to build an authentic business that feels like you.
- Keep on following the scary/exciting. Doing the thing(s) that make you feel an equal amount of fear and excitement leads you to The Land of No Regrets. Even if it doesn’t go as planned, or isn’t a complete success, you’ll learn the lessons (and skills!) you need to decide on your next steps.
- Action begets action. Keep showing up. Do more than think.
Ready to take these 10 wish-I-knew lessons and apply them to *your* future business launch? There’s no need for you to learn any of this the hard way, and there’s a whole lot more insight where that came from. My 90 Day Business Launch applications are open right now AND my free, live 90 Day Business Launchers Tell All is happening *tonight*! Click your preferred link and get to applying/registering. Regardless, there are more lessons to learn and more work to be done – yours! – and I am *here* for it.