How to Survive Your First 6 months As A Creative Entrepreneur
Let's face it we are in the Entrepreneurship Era. Everyone-- Everywhere is discovering that they too can have freedom and make money doing something they love.
Most people can identify with one of the statements below.
The "wantrepreneurs" who haven't yet quit their 9-to-5's, but dream of being their own boss.
The "WiFi Warriors" the ones who've made the leap and started their own business BUT are now realizing, "Crap! This is really overwhelming"
The "Dedicated", veteran business owners who thought they'd have it all figured out by now, but are still just trying to stay afloat.
Which one are you? If you've started your own business, you know: the first few months...Well the first year, can be really, really hard. And if you haven't started your own business yet...Hold on for the wild ride in front of you!
will mark 3 years since I quit my job, decided against Dental school and pursued a life of freedom. Man, oh, Man... It. Has. Been. A. Journey! A journey of searching within, learning to be my own boss, making my own hours, overcoming procrastination and self doubt, finding my tribe, organizing my life and showing up EVERY. DAMN, DAY to build a firm foundation for something I truly care about. BUT it has also been a journey of not knowing exactly what I am doing, no steady income, mistakes after mistakes as I was figuring out things as I go... all the while alternating between euphoric bliss and paralyzing fear. December
BUT I SURVIVED.
Not just that...I’ve thrived. So I wanted to share with you how I made it the first 9 months of being a online entrepreneur - and how you can too.
1. Prepare your mind.
Entering into the "Being my Boss" realm requires a certain level of tenacity and higher learning so your mental health is very important. Having the confidence to take on this beast is definitely a tool you need in your arsenal.
Step 1 is figuring out for vision for the future. Figure out exactly what you want to create...after all if you don't have an end goal...how will you know that you achieved it?
2. Have some "Just in case" money
My Grandmother reminded me everyday how to be a lady. Always be presentable, make sure you sit with your legs crossed and whenever you do get into a relationship make sure you keep some "just in case money". If you've never heard of this term it is to describe a lump sum of money you save secretly on the side just in case you need to get away.
Unless you have a trust fund or a rich partner who supports you, you’re going to need to think about having money and sustaining your livelihood. To be truthful it will take you about 3-9 months to even establish a steady amount of income especially when branding a new business.
You may not have any income for the first month or so. Think about it, by the time you start the journey, create a perfect website, create amazing products or services, build your client list, close the deal, send the invoice and wait several days to receive the payment... It may be a good 2 or 3 months before you see a payment notification.
Do not worry..this is quite typical so make sure you are planning financially.
This is crucial…you need money to survive so to quit your 9 to 5 you must have 1 of 2 things:
a) have at least 3 - 6 months of expense saved up (recommended some do more some do less) and a real business plan
b) if you are already making an income from your entrepreneurial gig and you know you are able to afford to pay bills next month.
I DID NOT take this route I had 2.5 months saved up and was stressing the entire journey. Yah..I was over zealous and truly believe in what I planned to create. Trust me you want to have some stability, without it will get you focused on making money rather than having an impact.
3. Start before you start
What I mean here is, if possible, take on clients before you even launch your business.
This was a game-changer for me. About 3 months before I left my job and launched my site, I started working with clients. At first, I was doing pro bono consulting work, which helped me build up my confidence, get clear on my process and get clients testimonials. Once I got my bearings with the pro bono work, I started working with paying clients.
And yes, it's hard to juggle a full-time job with client work on nights and weekends, but it's so worth it.
I hustled during those 3 months, and as a result, I was able to launch my business with a client list. I was able to tell prospects that I had already worked with a range of clients all over the world. And I was able to hit the ground running knowing that I could immediately add value for my clients.
I absolutely recommend this to anyone starting their own business. You have SO much to learn and figure out your first few months, don’t make working with clients yet another thing to be freaked out about.
And speaking of freaking out…
4. Brace yourself
Because working for yourself is a crazy roller coaster.
I thought I knew this before starting. I knew it’d be hard. But oh my goodness, I had no idea just how hard it would be. My advice here is to prepare yourself emotionally, because owning your own business means:
Constantly having to figure things out.
Your website, your positioning, your email server, your graphics, your contracts, your terms & conditions, your video call service, your social media accounts, your client on-boarding process, your CRM, your opt-ins, your contact forms, your scheduling system, and on and on and on.
There is SO MUCH to learn. So if you plan to run a business without going crazy, you’d better brace yourself.
If you need help creating a strategy for success sign up for 60 Minute Discovery Session. We will sit down and get crystal clear on your vision and how to make it happen.
5.Always wondering where your next paycheck is coming from.
Unlike your 9-5, being your own boss means not having a steady paycheck. I’m not saying you’ll be poor and freaking out about money all the time, but you need to be mentally prepared for significant uncertainty around money.
6. Unending hustle.
Your biz isn’t going to build itself. Making your own schedule means finding the motivation every day to move your business forward. You constantly need to balance between building your client pipeline, delivering on client work, marketing your biz and dealing with the never-ending admin that comes with doing everything yourself. No day is the same, which makes it fun, but the work never, ever ends. And you need to be ok with that.
Every day is an emotional roller coaster.
“I got great client feedback! Yay!” “My proposal for a new contract wasn’t accepted. No one wants to work with me, all my other clients were just a fluke.” “My article got published in the Huffington Post! I’m amazing!” “I lost money on a contractor. I suck at business, why did I ever think I could do this?”<---[Me, every single day.] When I say “Brace Yourself,” I mean it.
7. Get help
The other day, my friend asked me, “Aren't you lonely working at home alone all day?” I thought about it and realized: no, not at all.
And here’s why: I’m not working alone.
Yes, I work from home by myself, but I’m constantly in contact with other people in the same situation. Whether I’m on client calls with other business owners, or on Facebook groups with other creative entrepreneurs, or talking to a business coach, or meeting with my accountability partner-- I’m not alone.
And you shouldn’t be either.
Get help. Get support. Hire out tasks if you need to. Even if you’re in an entrepreneurship desert, there are SO many resources online that you really have no excuse for sitting at home alone trying to figure everything out yourself. Join networking groups, get on Facebook groups, have a weekly call with another business owner-- anything to get the help and support you need.
Because owning your own business is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it even harder by trying to do everything yourself.
If you need a program that allows you to build your business check out the From Passion to Profit Program.
8. Get organized
Full disclosure: this took my about 4 months to figure out, and I only started taking it seriously thanks to an accountability partner. My advice...Get organized now.
Of course, organization looks different for everyone, but here are some areas I’m working on to feel a little more on top of my admin, systems and processes:
Email: Put in place a system that helps organize emails instead of keeping everything in your inbox.
Finances: Use a software to track your income and work expenses so you know what you’re making.
Time tracking: Use a time-tracking app to see where you’re spending your time (and bill clients accordingly.)
Client management: Put in place a CRM system to track leads and clients.
Note-taking/ idea capture: Create a system for keeping all your notes and ideas in one place, instead of spreading them over 6 different notebooks, 3 different iPhone apps and random scraps of paper (like somebody I know…).
Calendar: Know what’s on your calendar and synch your paper and electronic calendars regularly.
Social media, Blogging: Have an editorial calendar or schedule to keep yourself consistent.
Productivity & to-do lists: Find a system that helps you stay on track and get your shit done.
That’s just the tip of the organization iceberg. I know it’s a lot, so if you're completely overwhelmed with ALL THE THINGS, I’ve created a blog post of 10 Tasks I Do Weekly to Grow my Business Rapidly.
9. Give yourself a break
I’ve saved this for last because I’m still learning this one. The fact is: doing anything new is a learning process. It’s always “2 steps forward, 1 step back.” And that’s ok.
When it comes to owning your own business, I’m not sure if that ever changes. No matter how far into it you are, there will always be new things to figure out and new mistakes to make. There will be highs and lows.There will be days where you just rock it and feel like you’ve finally figured it out, right before a day where nothing goes right and you just want to give up.
I have no advice for avoiding those days. I still have at least one of those days a month. But what I can tell you is the only way to survive them is to give yourself a break. Understand that it’s a process. You don’t have to get it right the first time. Chances are, you won’t get it right the first time. And you have to learn to be ok with that.
Believe me, I know how hard it is. This post is called, “How to survive your first 6 months as a creative entrepreneur” for a reason. Because that’s what it feels like sometimes: survival mode.
But you’ll figure it out. You’ll get through survival mode. You’ll hit your stride and things will start to feel easier. Granted, they’ll never be easy. You’ll never breeze through this, feeling like you could do it with your eyes closed.
But let’s face it, that’s not what you want anyway. You're not one to take the easy road. You knew starting your own business was going to be a challenge, and you did it anyway. For you, the fulfillment you get from creating a job you find purpose in is worth the struggle that goes with it.
Owning a business is a challenge. But, let’s be honest, that’s also why we love it.
What do you wish you'd known when you first started your business?
Share your advice in the comments below!
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