What I learnt in my first year of business.

So I took a plunge into the unknown and in June 2021 I decided to go for it. Now or never. I knew I hated being employed so what's the alternative? Self employed obviously! I had seen both my mum and dad do it, they built empires, they smashed it and they lived comfortably, my in laws had built their legacy from the ground up too, so why couldn’t I? Now was the time to give it a go, off I go to figure this out. Jumping straight out of the frying pan into the fire. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had the drive to figure it out. I had had side hustles before, in beauty mainly and once I did pet portraits as a third job to help boost my pockets at Uni, how different can full time be!?


Here are some of the skills and LESSONS that I have learnt along the way, hopefully they will help you on your business building journey too!


1. Just do it. There is no right time.

You will hear people say this all the time when it comes to launching a business and making other huge life decisions. You might think “what do you know, you’re not the one giving up your job for this”. But the truth is, that they are right. There is no right time, you can do all the research that you like. You can plan and plan and plan, you can watch the market grow and slump. But ultimately. The time is now. If you have been thinking about a business idea for more than three months, just do it. Even if you don't go all in and create a side hustle, that's the first step!


2. Step out of your comfort zone, it really is the only way to grow!

Setting up a business is the first step to growth when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone. It's a real eye opener! But taking that one step further, attending business brunches, networking, meeting new people and even hosting your own events. Simply getting your face out there in-front of the right people. If you have never done it before, it can be really daunting but trust me when I say, this is when things start to change! You make new connections, new connections that can be the make or break of your business! Whether it is showing your face on your business page, saying yes to being a guest on that podcast or joining a networking brunch club. Every step is progress! “Always live with one foot outside your comfort zone.”


3. Perfectionism is glorified procrastination.

This was a hard pill to swallow when it became apparent to me that I wasn’t getting anything done because I was overwhelmed at the thought of it not being perfect! From posting on social media to sending a quote or a proposal to a prospective client. Done is better than perfect! Always! Going back to point number one, taking messy action and perfecting it as you go is absolutely fine! No one is expecting perfection except for you. The pressure we put on ourselves is always more than anyone else expects of us.


4. Busy is not the same as being productive.

Every time you think that there must be an easier way, there probably is. Processes and systems are so important when it comes to streamlining your business, from email marketing, onboarding clients and even posting your social media posts. Everything can be done within set time frames and reduce stress immensely.


A few systems that I recommend you look at are listed below;

  • Your website probably has more features than you are currently using, from CRM systems, invoicing and payment systems and even email marketing platforms. Have a dig around and utilise them to streamline and automate what you offer.

  • Don’t have a website or a helpful platform like Wix or Shopify? That's fine, reach out to a Tech VA and ask about Dubsado or Asana, email sending, contact signing, money taking platforms that can help you save huge amounts of time and money!

  • Meta’s native post scheduling suite “Meta Business Suite” is great for scheduling your posts across Facebook and Instagram and getting the most out of your audience by having the analytics and raw data in front of you.

  • Not a fan of the business suite? Try Planonly!


5. Setting boundaries, across business processes and in your personal life can save your sanity.

This is a difficult one if you are a yes person or like to please everyone in every way that you can. But there are boundaries to be set in every business and you have to learn how to turn clients away. If it is not in your remit, you don't have to take it. I have seen so many business owners around me take the work because “it’s just for now, whilst I build my business” and then crumble under the pressure of doing daily tasks that do not light them up. (of course there are always some tasks that we don't like...like our ACCOUNTS! But I am talking, being a Graphic Designer and taking on a businesses social media account to keep you afloat and hating it!) It’s not worth it, only say yes to the work that you WANT to do, it will make you happier, it will make you more of an expert in your field, it will teach you new skills regardless of whether you think you know it all and make your more comfortable talking about the thing that you have learnt, in effect bringing more clients that need that service your way... keeping your business afloat and you a happy business owner!


6. Be yourself! ALWAYS.

I don’t mean flaunt your personal life all over your business pages, you don’t have to do that. What I do mean is that you do not have to put on a front for your business. It should come easily and authentically. People buy from people. From your values right through to your hobbies people connect with businesses on an emotional level before they commit to buying so do not be afraid to show up as you.


7. Find your tribe, things start to shift when you connect with the right people!

When I started my business I had no idea who I wanted to target, so I set up and off I went. My first business coach thought I was crazy! My branding reflected those that I wanted to target but I was so off base with what I was offering and burnt out so quickly. I am grateful to those that got me going, but I was doing logos for side hustles that people were not passionate about and never had any returning clients. It was only once I started to put myself out there, meet new people and start to move in the right circles of other supportive goal getting business owners that I really started to grow, attract long term clients and understand the direction that my business was going in. Your vibe attracts your tribe and that's that!


8. Trust your gut, it's almost always the only one that's making sense.

Trusting your gut is a powerful skill to have. It takes away the questioning, the second guessing and the overwhelm. It empowers you to be more creative, have more confidence in yourself and own your own superpowers!


9. Burnout is REAL and it is much easier to get there than you think. Even when you are doing what you love.

Just because you are working for yourself, doing what you love does not mean that you will not burn out! I didn’t really know what burnout was before starting this business. But I know now that I have been there a few times before working for myself. Here are some signs to watch out for and know when to take a break!

  1. Feeling overwhelmed

  2. Procrastinating more than normal

  3. The inability to make decisions both small and large.

  4. Feeling tired and drained all/most of the time

  5. Self doubt


10. Invest in your own toolkit! It'll fill you with confidence and enable you to put your best foot forward.

From knowledge to business systems. When I say tool kit I mean everything that involves you and will make your life easier. It is a great feeling to never stop learning and have the power over your own education, you should utilise that and use it as a selling point in your business. The other side of this lesson is the systems as we mentioned above, if you can invest in it and streamline it! Do! Your time is worth more than the task a workflow can do for you.


There you have it, lots of lessons that have helped me through business and even spilled over into my personal life. I hope they help you to not hit the same pot holes that I did in some way or another.


Let me know your biggest take always from this in the comments below, or even better. Let me know some of the lessons that you have learnt whilst you have been in business!


Rach x


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