A slight change to the usual topic of this blog series, Connect The Dots, but it’s for a very good reason! I am celebrating a massive milestone in my career – for the first time ever, I am 100% self-employed and it feels amazing!
Over the last decade I have always had a side hustle, whether that be just a hobby that’s turned into something that makes me some going out money or a part time job that I hoped might turn into a full time business. However, with a full time ‘normal’ job and two children and a husband who has to work away on site a lot, it was REALLY hard to have the courage to just go for it. A story, I’m sure, which is so common.
About 10 months ago I decided that it was time, time to puff up my chest and take the leap! I was going to make the business I was hugely passionate about my one and only focus. In a way I’m hugely grateful for the time it’s taken to reach this point as I’ve learnt so much over the last 10 years, met so many people that have inspired me in one way or another and learnt from mistakes I’ve seen or mistakes I myself have made!
So, my point of this blog today is not only to celebrate this new path I’m heading down but to share some of those things I’ve learnt that might help those also embarking on this journey or even to those that are much further down the line and in the thick of it, I know I always appreciate hearing other’s experience so hopefully this might in some way help one of you.
- Take your business where your customers need you. This one was HUGE for me, the saying you can’t put a square peg in a round hole really applies to working out your business model. You may be passionate about your vision of a product or service but if no one wants it, what’s the point? When I first set out my business plan I was very niche in my ideas, I loved Facebook ChatBots and wanted to shape my company around building and managing those for businesses. With my background in marketing I believe I have the knowledge and experience to make these genius little bots do wonderful things for my potential clients.
Later, I further niched my idea and I was primarily going to just target the hospitality industry…. Then Covid-19 happened and well, we all know what that’s done to shake things up!
So, with much debate and help from some amazing connections, I realised I had to look at things differently. When I paused for thought and took stock of what people would ask for when they came to me, yes they thought the idea for a ChatBot was interesting but it’s not what they primarily needed. They needed rounded marketing support, they needed the hassle of writing a campaign plan taken off their hands, they needed a workshop to explain how exactly Facebook adverts worked, some really wanted me to just take it all on so they didn’t have to worry about any of it!
My point being, do your research and listen to what people are asking of you. As easy as it is to go tunnel vision on what you are excited about, if it’s not going to sell, it’s not going to work.
- Be clear on your income goals and build your business around that. If you know you’ve got X amount going out every month and you need X amount on top, that gives you the figure to aim for. When you build your pricing structure you then know how much of a product / service / package you need to sell before breaking even. For me, I knew I had to cover my full time wage and I also knew I had to focus on one thing I was going to do to achieve that – Marketing Strategy and Virtual Marketing, either done with you or done for you.
You then need to set out a ‘want to earn’ goal. Obviously we’d all love to be millionaires but jot down a realistic earn goal to keep you motivated. What extra things beyond your core business plan are you going to do to bring in that extra income? How many clients did I need to take on and how much did I have to push things further, which leads to my next point..
- Invest in outsourcing. Sometimes admitting you can’t be everything to everyone is one of the keys to a business’ success. To enable my business to grow I knew very quickly I was going to have to lean on some freelancers to help me achieve everything I wanted to achieve. A lot of what I do can be really time consuming, even down to my own company’s admin and accounts, and as I’m the head of my business it was really important for me that I’d be out front driving things forward rather than being bogged down with jobs I knew there were people I could get to help me with. If there’s part of your company that you really don’t have a flare for, so whether that might be the tax returns, invoicing, copywriting, design – whatever it is, if you know it’s going to take your eye off the ball then it’s definitely time to invest in someone to step in.
Of course, if you’re a new business then that can be a hugely daunting prospect, shelling out money when there’s not your ideals coming in seems counterproductive but it’s really not. If you’re not giving your clients 110% because you take ages to write some sales notes – head to somewhere live Fiverr and get someone to help you out, for the sake of $50 here or there, trust me, you’ll never look back!
- 80% out and 20% in. This is one I see so often and it’s one that’s far too easy to fall into. If you’re putting 100% of your time into helping your customers, what happens when your own business needs a boost? If you’re not continually marketing your own product or service, how are more and more people going to know about you? Allow 80% of your time to be dedicated to working in your business and 20% of your time dedicated to growing your future business.
Keeping that pipeline of new clients coming in is a vital part of your business, if you get to the end of a job with a client and there’s not another one lined up then the panic is bound to set in! Giving yourself time on a regular basis to focus on your own marketing, sending out proposals, working on a new product, connecting with your current customer base – however you chose to spend that time, it’s a very worthy investment.
For me, this means getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning when it’s really peaceful and focusing only on what I want to achieve for my company – that might be working on a new service, a new marketing campaign or finding networking opportunities. I might send out emails to potential leads (thank goodness Gmail has a “send later” option otherwise people might think I’m totally bonkers when they see what time I sent it!). I’m not saying you need to get up at the crack of dawn too but having a day a week or an hour a day to just work on your stuff should be a top priority.
So, that’s it! All of the four things that I have really held on to and have definitely helped me comfortably leave my full time job and embark on the good ship self-employed! I do hope some of this might have been helpful to some of you, or if you know of anyone that might need to have a little nudge in the right direction, please do fire them this link!
For now, I’m off to enjoy a leisurely coffee with a client and then pick my kids up to spend some time with them – oh the joys of only having one job to worry about!!