Dear Small Business Owner,
Whew……you took the leap to work for yourself. It’s tough out here and you are just beginning. You will learn some things as you go. First off…….you may find that some family members won’t support you. Why? Because they want you to have a “steady” paycheck. They don’t want you hustling hoping for someone to buy your product or use your service. They want you to clock in and work like them because A. they are mad you are stepping out when they wish they could or B. they really are concerned that you won’t make it out here in this cut throat world of small business owners. The family members that do support you…probably won’t buy until you’ve made it big. Some will buy most will cheer you on from a corner and never share your product or service and never tell their friends about you…..unless you are raking in the dough. Your parents well that’s another story they will smile and say, do you but secretly they are going to be disappointed you didn’t go to that nice college they wanted you to go too or you didn’t follow through with the degree that they thought was best for you. Don’t worry though your parents and family members will get over it. You can’t let what they say or do deter you from your dreams.
Getting clients are going to be hard. I would say fake it till you make it but too much of that’s going on these days and people aren’t doing it like they use to do it back when I was first starting out. See I faked it but I was good at it…I just didn’t have the clients to showcase. I knew I was good at what I did but getting people to buy from me didn’t work so I had to go another route to showcase my talent. I had to work for free. Don’t say oh hell no I ain’t working for free! I know that’s what you are saying…..but yes I had to have a portfolio because people want to see that. People want to see what they are paying for and I had to have something. I worked for free for 6 months banging out bad ass logos and websites for clients that others would have paid top dollar for. You see as I said…..I was good at it I just didn’t have anyone to show off too. Once I did some things for free I could now collect money. That first 6 months was hard though……I cried because I had just did a logo that was so good but I had to do it for free because that is what I agreed upon. I had to put money into my business to buy fonts, graphics, templates, etc on my own so I didn’t make anything……If I were you I wouldn’t do it for free but maybe at a discounted price. Someone will take a chance and if they don’t….then yeah…you may have to do one or two for free just to get your name out there.
If you work with a partner or your spouse……that’s going to show you some sides you may not want to see. I suggest you spell it out clearly in the beginning what each one of you is responsible for and have it written down I don’t care who they are. Write everything down. Better yet…..do everything via email that way everything is written down and accounted for. You can talk to people on the phone but if it’s anything important make sure you keep an email trail just in case. If you talked on the phone email the client and go over what you talked about to make sure everyone is on the same page. Make sure you get a contract and make sure you get people to sign them. Once you start charging make them pay a deposit and don’t take checks…..trust me cash or card only.
Money…..some clients are going to complain just because they don’t want to pay you their hard earned money. They want things for cheap….to avoid this don’t charge cheap prices. I repeat…..DON’T CHARGE CHEAP PRICES. Charge what you are worth and do it from the get go. It will save you a lot of headaches in the long run although it may take you a while to build, it will be worth it. The first year is going to be rough…..you will lose some money. You will feel alone so my suggestion is to find some like minded individuals who are also business owners. Surround yourself with them and you will make it through.
Things will get easier the second year.
At least by the 3rd year you will have a rhythm, some clients under your belt, and you will know how you like things done. Also, hire an assistant…an intern will do…..you can’t do it alone…it’s impossible especially if you have kids to raise or a husband to attend to. Here are some quick tips that I learned so you won’t repeat the same mistakes
- trust your gut….it will lead you correctly. If your gut says don’t work with a person then trust me…trust it. You will regret it if you don’t
- Not all money is good money learn how to fire yourself from things…..it will be good for you
- Give back…you will be blessed more
- The word no doesn’t need an explanation
- Don’t build a business based on what you love…..unless you are buying your business on your own….you need to base your business on what the consumers want
- If it doesn’t solve a problem or help….let it go
- If you do it part time it’s a hobby not a business (don’t kill me because I know some of you work full time jobs but until you can give your small business the same amount of time you give your full time job…I’m sorry)
- If you can stand doing it for free…you will always love what you do
- Put a % of your earnings back into your business by hiring out, paying for new tools, or buying things that your product or service may need to stay with the changing times
- Take some time for yourself. If it’s a holiday weekend take the weekend. Your emails will be there (all 1,000+ of them) when you get back
- Be kind to your clients if they go the extra mile for you. Being considerate goes a long way
- We all have the same amount of time in the day……use it wisely
Small business ownership is awesome and I wouldn’t change the sleepless nights, no money in my bank accounts, and tears for anything in the world. If you aren’t ready for all three…(sometimes at the same time) you aren’t ready yet!
Owner of It’s Really Kita (branding, photographer, influencer of things I love)