If you are interested in entrepreneurship, you’ll soon find you fill your head with things you “should” do. This list will be a collection of things you read on social media, books, or other sources mixed with well-meant advice from friends and family topped off with your own ideas. If I could help aspiring entrepreneurs with one thing, it would be culling this list. Like most, I spent time, money, energy, and emotion on some things in my first year of business that I’d love to have back.
First, a little disclaimer. This list is mostly designed for service-based or online businesses. For brick & mortar or product-based businesses, these suggestions might not fully apply. I also know that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to listen to my gut. If you feel strongly about a specific task or investment in your business, just do it. No one else is smarter than your own instincts. With that said, here are 5 things I do not recommend for your first 12 months as a service provider.
- Don’t start with your logo.Yes, I own a marketing company. Yes, I’m going to tell you not to start with marketing. Your logo is the cornerstone when you begin building a brand but for most service providers, you can go get business before you start marketing. I’d recommend getting yourself 1-3 new clients through your network and then consider using part or all of that revenue to fund some first steps in building your brand.
- Don’t assume your past clients will be your future ones.I have and still do work with a few clients who followed me out of my corporate career but for the most part, new people found me. Even if you choose to offer similar services, your business style, process, pricing, and size may not be a fit for people you’ve worked with in the past. This is perfectly okay! In fact, it’s a testament to how your skills are only part of the equation. Timing and alignment are everything.
- Don’t hesitate to share what you do. Fear will tell you to figure everything out first. Build the perfect website, fine-tune your process, and develop the perfect pitch before you dare tell someone about your business. Fight it hard. I literally want you to shout your new venture from the rooftops. Post it on Facebook for your old high school friends and your grandma. Tell everyone you see in person. Email everyone on your list. Make sure you include these 4 things: WHAT you are doing, WHY it matters to you, WHO you can really help, and HOW they can support you.
- Don’t let busy work proceed sales activity. If you can’t break this habit, burn your to-do list. I’m serious. When you own a new business, you need to spend as much or more time meeting new people and sharing what you do as you spend fulfilling your services. Anything outside of that needs to be minimized and managed well so it stays on the back burner. Take it from a girl who spent countless hours in her first year designing perfect spreadsheets that she no longer even uses…
- Don’t avoid investing in your business. For the most part, I’d advise any new business owner to keep things as lean as possible for the first year. However, one thing I will push you to invest in is knowledge. Find your brothers and sisters in business who will act as your guides through coaching, courses, or programs. Investing in coaching programs has been my secret weapon, not only to increase my revenue and profit margins, but to develop the mindset to attract opportunities and truly enjoy business and life.
Speaking of coaching… This Fall, I’ll be launching some programs to help beautiful, world-changing, aspiring entrepreneurs. As my own businesses continue to grow, I literally can’t stop thinking about helping others also find the freedom, work, and money they seek. As details come together, you can bet I’ll be sharing them with you.
There you have it! 5 things not to do. I’ve got a lot of these so you may see a follow up or two in the future. For now, feel free to share with me anything I missed that might be part of your “not to do” list.