Whether it’s a marketplace for pet sitters or a blog about something you’re passionate about: a lot of us have probably thought about starting a business one day.
If you’ve read other posts of mine before, you might know that I started my freelancing business last year. And this blog, of course! But I don’t usually talk about entrepreneur-specific topics. After all, I totally get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea!
What made me change my mind for this post is the fact that my business just passed its one-year anniversary. Looking back on it, I decided to share some tips with everyone who might be interested in starting their own.
Since there already is so much information for entrepreneurs out there, I want to focus on specific bits and pieces that I wish I knew at the beginning, and that aren’t talked about enough.
I hope that this helps all of you who are in the same boat!
1. You can do it – no matter what everyone says
My first big hurdle was convincing friends and loved ones that starting a business was a good idea. Truth be told, no one really believed that I could make it work.
It’s not that they didn’t believe in me. Rather, people who have always followed the traditional path of 9-to-5 jobs have a hard time picturing that something so risky could be successful.
I had such a hard time coping with the lack of support. The only reason why I kept looking for the right way to start my business was that I didn’t really have another choice. No way I was going back to a traditional job!
In the end, it only took a month to change their minds. Once I had my first two clients, they started seeing that it wasn’t so impossible after all.
So, I want you to remember that you can do it. Even if you’re a shy introvert who’s terrified of networking. If I did it, so can you!
2. Don’t rush when you’re starting your business
The first idea you have might not be the best. Even if it’s viable, it might not be right for you, or vice-versa.
I was so sure that I had the right idea when I started out. (Yes, the pet-sitting business!) But after three months of research, I noticed that I simply wasn’t ready to make huge investments right from the start. My idea was based on developing a complex platform, so there was no way around it – it might have been a good idea, but it wasn’t the right one for me at that point in my life.
Taking the time to find an idea that feels right and doable is really, really important!
Do the whole package of market analysis, business plan and so on before you even think about investing anything. It might be annoying, but it’s necessary!
Even if you need money or want to get out of your current situation: don’t rush into creating a business. It might come back to haunt you later, in the form of taxes you’ve never heard of, for example!
3. Don’t spent too much money on courses
Most information can be found for free if you just make enough effort to look.
I started out by purchasing two courses that did not get me as far as I had hoped. Once my first idea had failed and I had more or less decided to do my freelancing thing, I decided to talk about it with an advisor in the employment office.
He couldn’t tell me much, but he gave me the contact of another organisation that was specialised in helping entrepreneurs like me. I went there, and they walked me through the entire administration process (for free!). I got to meet and exchange with other entrepreneurs, and still get invited to meetings and networking events every month.
This is to say, there are tons of resources available that you might have never heard of. So don’t take the easy route of paying the first online course you come across on the internet! (Online courses can be really great though, just not all of them!).
Look for local organisations who might have information, and go ask them. Even if they’re not the right contact point for you, they’ll tell you where to go.
Taking advantage of local resources also helps you connect with like-minded people, which is always great!
You can also read this post about bad business advice if you’re interested.
4. Confront people with your business idea
Telling people about your business idea can be scary. But how do you want to make money if you keep your business hidden under a rock?
The crucial thing is to not only rely on the opinion of people close to you. My family members, for example, are not potential clients of mine. So, they can’t assess whether they would buy my services or not!
Go out and present your idea to people who might be potential clients. Contact people online, especially those who offer courses on entrepreneurship. Even if you don’t pay, they’ll probably reply and their experience might be valuable to you.
Participate in in-person training to talk about your ideas with other entrepreneurs. All of this will also improve your presentation skills and networking skills considerably, so it’s a win-win!
I know how tempting it can be to keep living inside your head when you’re working on your business, especially if you’re an introvert like me. But presenting your business to other people will help you put your ideas into perspective and gain the confidence you need to make them work.
5. Don’t ignore accounting and taxes
You could so easily ignore the whole accounting part of your business at the start. Especially if you start out as a freelancer and don’t have many projects at all in the beginning.
I definitely made the mistake and never even created an Excel sheet until the end of the first year, when the tax report suddenly came in and I had no idea how much money I had actually made. It takes way longer to piece everything together afterwards than to do it right away!
Taking your accounting seriously from the start will also ensure that you actually notice when someone hasn’t paid you. As weird as it seems, that’s something you could totally forget if you have multiple projects at the same time!
As for taxes, keep in mind that there might be more of them than you think. I did so much research on everything, and somehow it completely escaped my attention that I would still have to pay for business premises if I was working from home.
Basically, if you’re like me and are figuring everything out as it goes, be prepared for unforeseen taxes you might have missed (or get someone to help you if you can!)
6. Starting a business has ups and downs
Just because the first month was great, doesn’t mean that the second will be. And the opposite is also true!
It might seem like beginnings are the hardest, but they’re actually not. In my experience, beginnings can actually be the easiest part of a project.
At one point, you’ll probably feel stuck. You won’t know how to keep progressing. You might even feel like you’ve tried everything. I’ve been in this situation a lot, and I’ve shared a couple of my favorite ways to regain motivation in this post.
What’s important is to never give up. I’ve found that as long as I keep working, things eventually do happen. You might just have to pivot a little if you notice that something isn’t right.
Oh, and be prepared for the stress of not knowing what’s next! No matter how much fun and how rewarding it can be, owning a business isn’t easy. It isn’t a straight line, and it takes courage to keep going.
I really hope that you found these tips helpful! If you did, please share them with friends or family members who might be interested in starting their own business!
And if you have any remarks or questions, just leave a comment down below or write me an email! 🙂