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Are you thinking of setting out on your own and starting your own business?
Entrepreneurship can be a freeing experience, but it doesn’t come without risk. Whether you are looking to leave the 9-5 life behind to become a freelancer or you’re planning to delve into the world of business ownership, you can benefit from those who’ve taken the path before you.
Good news! I happen to be one of those people who has traveled the path of starting your own business. I’ve had both ups and downs along the way. Despite the downs, though, I’ve personally truly enjoyed the ride, and I’ve learned a number of valuable lessons along the way.
Now I’ll tell you five keys to starting your starting your own business that I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully this advice for entrepreneurs like you will help you build the foundation for your own success while also helping you avoid any potential pitfalls.
1. Embrace and learn from failure
The first piece of my advice for entrepreneurs is this. Understand that failure will be a part of your success. After all, most businesses fail within the first five years of operation. Often, the reason for failure is the simple inability or unwillingness to embrace change and to pivot if necessary.
If your first shot at freelancing or starting your own business fails, it’s not the end of the line. Don’t give up. Instead, take a step back and assess your efforts with the goal of determining where things went wrong and succeeding in your future efforts.
Did you make investments in the wrong places? Did you fail to delegate basic tasks and end up burning out? Or perhaps you made the mistake of choosing a business niche you saw as lucrative but in which you lacked experience or knowledge?
These are just a few of the reasons for failure you might uncover when doing a post mortem to see where things went off track.
Once you understand where things went wrong, you’ll be prepared to make adjustments that will position your next venture to be more successful.
Personal story of starting your own business
Here’s a quick story from the ups and downs of starting my own business.
Years back, I launched a freelance consulting business. I didn’t have a lot of resources, nor did I have a very recognizable name. Despite these challenges, I set out to offer marketing services to any and all businesses. As such, my messaging wasn’t targeted, and I took on some projects that were a bit bigger than I could chew or just weren’t a fit.
Those projects kept me from pursuing the right projects that could have changed the game. Growth was slow, and ultimately I opted to go back to the 9-5 life.
When I assessed where I went wrong, I realized my one-size-fits-all targeting and lack of delegating were where things went wrong. As a result, I was able to make the proper adjustments.
When I relaunched my business later on, instead of targeting one and all, I specifically targeted small businesses and startups. That’s where the bulk of my experience was, and I’d had a lot of success helping businesses in those niches grow.
As a result, starting my own business the second time around went a lot more smoothly. My business grew quickly and my name grew in recognition as well. Since my name is attached with my business, of course, that was a good thing!
Long story short, there’s a lot to learn from failure. All entrepreneurs experience it, and you likely will on some level as well. But don’t give up! Review, reset, and relaunch. If you give yourself room to fail, you’ll find the path to success.
2. Separate business from your personal life
When you choose to leave the 9-5 life, you’ll find that one issue you face is finding that line between your personal life and your business…and not crossing it.
Establishing a good work-life balance is so important. If you make this a priority, your road to entrepreneurial success will be a much smoother one. If you can find the proper line here, your productivity will significantly increase and so will your business.
For example, balancing family time with work time can be difficult when you run a business or when you’re a freelancer. Don’t ever let your work life get in the way of your family life.
Make sure that you still work a set schedule, with built in flexibility, to ensure that both you and your family clearly understand where the line is between work and family time. This applies to all other things in your life that can impact work-life balance as well.
You likely didn’t leave the 9-5 life just to jump back into working 9-5, so I’m not saying you have to set that same schedule. Just be sure that everyone around you understands that when you are working, that time should be treated as though you are at the office and unavailable.
On the opposite side, when you are with your family or tending to other non-work obligations, your full focus should be there…not at work. If this means you have to pull some late nights and work after everyone is in bed, you’re just going to need to get comfortable with that, at least during the early growth phase. As your business starts moving along, the need for late nights will decrease.
You’ll also want to be sure to schedule some time off. Just like you need your vacation time with a 9-5 job, taking vacation time to relax and refresh is equally important as a small business owner or freelancer.
And since you’ve made work-life balance a priority all along, you’ll lower your chances of burning out early and giving up, and the people and things that are important to you outside of work will not suffer as a result.
3. Build strong relationships
A lot of small business owners make the mistake of trying to go it alone. Freelancers are especially guilty of this, as freelancing in and of itself can give the impression that you should be operating on an island and growing your clientele by yourself.
That’s just not the case. Whatever path you take, you need to understand that you should look to get by with a little help from your friends. Yep, a little advice from The Beatles!
Another important piece of my advice for entrepreneurs is this: to grow your business more quickly, you should focus on building and leveraging key relationships. Relationships with other like-minded people can turn into situations where you each help one another grow and succeed.
For example, as a freelance copywriter, you should focus on building relationships with bloggers in your niche. If you focus your copywriting on helping B2B companies with their website copy, target bloggers and publications that focus on offering advice in these areas on their websites.
You can collaborate by exchanging backlinks or guest posts, sharing one another’s content on social media, or finding other ways to help each other expand the reach of your business and brand.
Take Twitter. Say you have 10,000 Twitter followers, and the blogger you are building a relationship with also has 10,000 followers. If you work together to share one another’s expertise with your followers, you each essentially double your audience.
You can also build relationships with other partners such as software companies. Let’s say you utilize a particular software program for your business and that business has an affiliate program. You can build an affiliate partnership with that company where you help promote their business to your followers, clients, and readers, and in return you can create an additional revenue source through the business’ affiliate program where you earn money each time someone buys that product through your promotions.
Or perhaps you simply build relationships with other freelancers or business owners with complementary services or products. Then, when a prospective client has a need that falls outside the scope of what you or your partner offer, you (or they) can pass the offer along. You’ll both benefit as a result.
Finally, if that partner freelancer also has a Fiverr profile and is active there, you can send them referrals using your Fiverr affiliate link, which will then become another easy additional income source for you.
Whatever the relationship looks like, it’s key to your success to start building them. You can benefit in so many ways from building strong relationships, so don’t neglect this step.
4. Learn to be okay with self-promotion
After starting your own business, if you truly want to grow your business and earn more clients, you can’t be shy. As such, you need to get comfortable promoting the value you offer to the world.
Build a strong online presence, and create a personal brand that showcases the quality you offer, boasts about your experience, and entices your target audience to want to work with you.
You can do this using a number of different channels, including:
- your own website
- social media (more than 4 billion people have active social profiles, and that number is still growing)
- guest blogging
- email outreach
These are just a few of the ways you should be promoting your business. As you begin promotions, it’s important to be consistent in your messaging. I recommend developing a logo to represent your brand, whether you’re a freelancer or a business. Use that logo across your messaging to boost recognition of your brand.
Be consistent with your messaging as well. Understand the value you bring to the market, and develop concise messaging that easily conveys that value to your target audience.
Once you have these things in place, start promoting yourself and you’ll see the business begin to roll in.
5. Delegate tasks so you can focus on the bigger picture
Burnout is real. We’ve all been there. As a small business owner or freelancer, you can easily get caught up taking on too much work.
If you try to take on every responsibility for your business, you’ll burn out quickly. Administrative tasks can take away from focusing on the bigger picture of building your business. But those administrative tasks are essential and can’t be ignored.
So, what do you do?
Today, you can work with someone like a virtual assistant to help you eliminate time-consuming tasks that are keeping you from really growing your business.
Early on, I was afraid to spend the money on delegating these tasks to someone else. So, I kept everything on my plate until I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost tons of sleep, and I realized I couldn’t go it alone any longer.
As such, I listed out the tasks that I could comfortably delegate without a lot of training or resources, and I brought on other people to help out. I didn’t spend a lot at first, and I grew those resources slowly. I found that doing so freed up time for me to focus on creating new business, and I was quickly able to absorb the costs of delegation through increased revenue from my newly acquired free time.
I highly recommend focusing on delegating tasks you can easily pass off but that are still essential to your business and can’t be ignored. Burnout can be a business killer, and delegating menial tasks to free up some of your time is the best way to avoid it.
Wrapping up 5 Secret Keys to Starting Your Own Business
Hopefully this advice for entrepreneurs like you will help you out on your journey. Before I leave you, I have one final piece of important advice about starting your own business.
Enjoy the ride!
Starting a business does come with risks, and there will be ups and downs, but it’s also a lot of fun. Embrace that part of it, and go into it with an eye on the long term.
Ignore the “get rich quick” schemes you’ll encounter along the way, and focus on putting the right things in place to build a sustainable business or freelance operation that grows consistently and leads up to the ultimate success you envision!
Want to learn more about how to start your own business? Download my free e-book How to Shift Your Mindset from 9-5 to Freelancing.
Anthony is the Founder of Anthony Gaenzle Marketing and author of Blogging for Business: Skyrocket Your Traffic, Grow Your Readership, and Boost Revenue. Beyond running the publication, Anthony works with small businesses, startups, and creative minds to help you grow.
Throughout his 15+ years in the marketing and multimedia fields, he has worked with companies across a wide variety of industries and disciplines, achieving significant growth in brand awareness, lead generation, revenue and other critical areas. He also helps individuals build influence and thought leadership through powerful personal branding. Follow Anthony on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.