You start out as an entrepreneur, and like with having your first baby, no one can truly warn you what it will be like.
Yes, it is different for everyone. Some have plans or finances or strong networks in place already, which they can use as a springboard, launching them into the world of business owners and they will flourish immediately. Some have no cash flow, a few ideas, a smallish network and no idea where to start putting it all together. It can be daunting and it will keep you awake at night.
With a meagre cash flow, you already have to be careful of the directions you pursue. You cannot have the latest laptop. You may need to work on an old outdated slowish one for a while, until you can afford the hardware of your dreams. The same goes for all other gadgets needed to do what you need to do. It can be frustrating, as you could do more, if you had better, but you need to earn more, so that you can afford better…!
Then there is the world of networking. This is a topic all on its own. In a nutshell, it can also be expensive or it can cost little to nothing to meet all sorts of amazing new people. Do your homework. Try out as many groups or chapters or gatherings as you can. Find your best fit. We all work differently. We all gel with different types of people. Just because one group of people works for someone else, does not mean you will reap any benefit from attending that same meeting regularly.
Which leads to clients. We all need and want different types of clients. Solopreneurs, big corporates, start-ups, SMME’s, we are all looking for something different – where there is that need for our product or service. Do not go where there is no need for you. Do not advertise in the wrong places and to the wrong people.
Trying to attract business from fellow entrepreneurs, who are in the same boat as you, can also be the wrong move to make. If their cash flow is as tight as yours. How will they be able to afford you long term? Where possible, set them up on a monthly budget or retainer, and then increase or decrease work according to their means. You could look for clients with similar businesses to your own, but then you will need many to cover your monthly costs.
Or, you could focus on one or two bigger more established clients or companies, which will help to grow your cash flow and business more quickly. Remember, that you may not necessarily meet these two types of clients in the same places.
To Do List
What about workload? As an entrepreneur, starting out is hard! You do everything yourself. And when I say everything, I mean everything! You will not sleep and if you do you will dream of ideas of and for your business. You will work long hard days, where you go to bed and may only have had one or two hours billable work, maybe less right at the beginning.
There are so many things to think of and you often need to research or chat to others in the know, before realising which bases you should be covering.
Here is a list of some of the many items not to forget to do yourself or outsource in getting your new business going (in no particular order):
- Business plan
- Company profile
- Social media (which platforms to use and which to stay away from for your business and client type?)
- Blog (does your business really need one or not?)
- Schedule of your motor vehicle expenses, odometer readings and mileage travelled
- Schedule of all of your business expenses
- Email signature
- Debtors system and templates
- Logo and colours
- Mission and vision statements
- Database of information and contact details of clients and all other contacts
- Project management system
- Email mailbox
- A list of your fees, rates, discounts, services
- Templates (letters, bulk emails, services on offer, etc)
Once you have everything set up, you will then realise that you will change your mind, as you learn and you grow. You will outgrow earlier ideas and concepts. You no longer like how you worded something that you thought was exceptional even for you, six months ago. You are evolving, this is good. Change is good. Being an entrepreneur means taking risks, allowing things to change, moving forward in different directions, learning crazy new things, being uncomfortable…
Your business will grow further as you adapt to what is needed in the marketplace around you. There is no point selling a product or a service; if no one wants or needs it where you are situated. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, but many businesses do not survive for many reasons, this being one of them.
Strive to be different. If your product or service is the same or similar to many others who have already been around before you, then you will need to find your difference. What makes you better than the rest? What is your added value?
Don’t give up too soon. Once you have decided to be an entrepreneur, stick it out for as long as you physically can. Be determined, work hard, reach out to others. Do what you love and go after what you want. Just realise, it won’t be easier or more secure than working for an employer. The choice is yours, and the benefits can be life altering so enjoy the ride.
Owner | Virtually Admin
Virtual Business Administrators