BY JEN SMITH ⋅ NOVEMBER 30 2015 – starting my own business
It’s been two and a half years since I walked out of the London office of the company I worked for and breathed a huge sigh of relief. As I got on the tube that night I recall thinking to myself…this is the last time I ever have to endure the 2 hour journey home. If I ever commuted into London again it would be by choice.
It was also the last time I’d ever have the reliability of a paycheque, but I tried to push that thought from my mind as I relished in the joy of leaving a job I no longer loved.
I was free.
The following Monday I started my business, as a social media trainer and copywriter. Since then, as cliche as it sounds, I’ve learned a hell of a lot.
I’ve had the highs and lows that come with freelance life. I’ve had the tricky clients and the dream clients. I’ve wasted money on marketing that didn’t work and invested money in ideas that have taken off. It’s been an intense and amazing journey, and despite the hard times I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I know if you’re reading this you may be thinking of starting your own business, or are in the early days of doing so, and in the spirit of reflection I want to share with you the 6 things I’d tell myself when I started my business:
1. You are going to be fine
Jen, you are going to worry a lot. It’s in your nature and can’t be avoided. You’ll worry about money mostly, and you’ll often worry if you’re doing the right thing or if you’ll ever ‘make it’.
I promise you, even when you can’t see how you’re going to pay the mortgage next month, you’ll be fine. You always land on your feet and you always find a way.
Just keep going even when you can’t see the way. Which leads me on to my next point…
2. Business is like driving at night
You know me, I love a good analogy, and this one is a favourite:
When you’re driving at night, you can only see 20 meters ahead at most. But you don’t doubt you’ll reach your destination do you? Just because you can’t see the road ahead doesn’t stop you travelling. You just take it 20 meters at a time.
Business is the same, Jen. You’re not going to see more than a few steps ahead at any given time. But if you keep moving, the path will unfold naturally and you’ll find your way there.
Don’t worry about having it all figured and planned out in advance. Trust that you are going to be fine.
3. Trust yourself
That intuitive nudge that helped you make the final decision to leave your job Jen?
Remember to trust that too.
You’ll get it when you meet with a potential client who’s not a good fit or isn’t going to pay you. You’ll get it when you’re wondering whether to put that ecourse on your credit card. You’ll get it when you’re ready to try something new.
And you’ll have people telling you what they think you should do from time to time. Sometimes they’re right… but every time you get ‘that feeling’, please trust it. It will never steer you wrong.
4. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert at everything
Social media is a big industry. You know there’s hundreds of networks and tools. You do not have to be an expert at them all to help your clients and be of value.
Stick to what you’re good at, I promise you it’ll be so much easier and a lot more fun.
5. You’re a hummingbird, and that’s ok
You’ll watch a talk by Liz Gilbert one day that describes the difference between Jackhammers and Hummingbirds. Jackhammers know they have one passion in life and they just go for it with all their might. Whilst hummingbirds flit from tree to tree, idea to idea and cross pollinate and create as they go.
You’re a hummingbird Jen. You’re creative and you’ll get new ideas all the time. You’ll try new businesses, new services and new ways of doing things. Some will work, some won’t. Some will lead you to something else even more exciting that you could not have imagined possible.
Don’t try and be a jackhammer, even if people tell you that you’re flaky, a ‘magpie’ or incapable of sticking to one thing. Your talent lies in your creativity and the real magic happens when you let yourself explore those ideas you have.
Let the jackhammers criticise you if they must… they’re just jealous anyway.
6. You are enough
You’ll meet and make friends with some pretty inspiring people. Women who are creating and running amazing businesses for themselves. It’ll be hard not to compare yourself to them, but try not to Jen. It’ll only make you miserable and keep you blind from your own talents.
Keep your blinkers on. Don’t fall into comparison if you can help it and remember this above all else:
You are enough. Just as you are. I promise.
One last thing Jen, before I sign off… taking payments up front for one off projects makes your life so much easier. Just saying.
Jen x – Starting my own business