Starting your own business is a scary yet equally exciting thing. I know when I first quit my corporate job, I was extremely anxious but also quiet exhilarated from what's to come. For the longest time, I always wanted to build a henna empire where I'm a hub for all henna related things. I kept visualizing being invited to keynote for conferences, having a full calendar of clients, traveling for destination weddings and my bank account rapidly rising. I was a big dreamer, I still am. But there are so many mistakes I've made that I feel you can easily avoid!
I worked as a full time graphic designer for a software company in the outskirts of Toronto - so not only was it an unfulfilling job, but it was literally an hour and a half commute each way. I was in a windowless office, located right next to the customer support department where phones were endlessly ringing and it just drove me crazy. I hated having to hide behind a computer screen for 40 hours a week, having the same small talk everyday and exert my efforts in a business that wasn't my own.
But here's the thing. I've majorly struggled financially, I barely got clients and my lack of self worth kept growing thinking "what the hell did I just do?". I was ready to go back on my knees begging for my job back just so I can support myself.
But instead, I've decided to power on through and have a deep look at myself evaluating what it is I was doing wrong. I stopped blaming my circumstance and sought out how I can adapt to it instead.
And because I wouldn't want you to go through the struggle I've underwent, here are the 5 easily avoidable mistakes you should watch out for before starting your own business...
1) NOT SPENDING ENOUGH TIME OR MONEY ON EDUCATION
If you think you can't afford money on education, I'll tell you, you can't afford not spending money or time on it. And I'm not necessarily talking about a college education. I'm referring to any type of research or education that will help cultivate your mind in terms of building your business.
For months, I've avoided paying for henna conferences or entrepreneurial classes thinking I can find all the content online for free.
I've immersed in A LOT of free content but paying for education in your related field will offer you top quality tips from the experiences of whoever is educating you.
You can never get that personal factor from whatever you find in a Google search. Why is it that the highest performing athletes still have personal coaches, but as creative entrepreneurs we're dissuaded from having entrepreneurial coaches ourselves?
So instead of the amount of money I've spent on advertising, for instance, I've redirected it to paying for online mastermind classes like Zero to Launch and The Instagram Lab, or attending henna conferences in Toronto. This type of education will stick with me FOREVER, bettering my skills, my know how and impacting my business to a great degree.
2) NOT HAVING A ROAD MAP
I'm majorly guilty of this! When I first quit my corporate job, I had absolutely no set plan in motion. Which is pretty ironic considering how avid of a planner I am. I literally only relied on what savings I had in my bank account, that's it!
I've substantially suffered financially and this made me have insurmountable self pity doubting my own capabilities. That's all because I didn't have a concrete road map. I had no set goals, no set time frame, nothing.
Because I kept working from a negative head space, this transpired when I approached clients. You tend to be a bit more pushy when you're desperate. And when clients feel desperation, they will instantly be steered away from you.
Before quitting my job, I should have had: a solid client database, enough money to last me 6 months, a growing email list and goals aligned with time frames so I have analytics to fall back on.
Instead, I was just going with the flow. I didn't even know how much I was making or spending, which brings me to the next point...
3) NOT KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR FINANCIALS
I'm an artist at heart so I ALWAYS hated numbers and analytics. I'm extremely dumb when it comes to math and accounting. I'm not remotely kidding. I still have to use a calculator for the simplest mathematical equations.
This was essentially why I never kept track of my financials. I only wanted to focus on my art and not on the money that my business was generating. I just went month by month not really understanding if I made a profit or turned a loss. With the financial hit I took from leaving my 9 - 5, it's easy to say that I was making a substantial loss. But that's an assumption because I just wasn't keeping track of my expenses.
By not understanding where your money is coming from or where it's going, there's very little chance to know how you can grow your business.
Not only is this damaging to my overall business, but it also doesn't allow me to analyze what parts of my business people were interested in: was it the private appointments? bridal appointments? henna supplies?
In realizing that I'm an artrepreneur, I'm not only an artist but I'm a book keeper, an analyst, a marketer and so many other things that come along with the territory.
4) INVESTING IN THE WRONG THINGS (or too much too fast)
I know how tempting it is to pool your money in the best gear or the fanciest website, but it won't do you any favours if you haven't mastered your skills or spent time in expanding your mind by educating yourself.
We're always quick to spend money on things that are not at all essential to our business - especially in its starting days.
When I first launched my business, the first thing I've spent money on were my business cards. As if that made me more legitimate or professional. Instead, allocate your money in things that will BETTER YOU FIRST because that will enhance your business second - which is ultimately your overall goal.
People will follow you if you have good content or top quality services, regardless if you have a fancy website or not. People care about the value in what you offer. They most definitely will not be interested in what type of equipment you used for it.
5) HIRING A PRO BEFORE UNDERSTANDING THE TASK YOURSELF
There are key elements in your business that you really need to know yourself before even considering hiring a team or outsource it to someone else. Now I'm not saying you should master coding if you want to create your own website, but you should have basic knowledge about things like SEO, digital marketing and other essential things that will support your business.
Before hiring an FB ad strategist, you need to know how FB ads work. Before hiring a copy writer, you need to know how to write copy yourself. Before getting a digital marketer, you need to have some knowledge about social media management first.
You should dabble in these things before truly outsourcing it to someone else. Why? Because then you'd be able to understand where you need to exert your efforts and you'd actually know the exact qualifications you need to be looking for when you're ready to hire a team.
This sounds daunting and like it's a lot of work, and you know what - yes it is! Running a business is A LOT of work so you shouldn't expect any less. I personally have turned to podcasts like Goal Digger, Online Marketing Made Easy, The Wealthy Coach, Screw the 9 to 5 and The Sunny Show to fill in the gaps of knowledge I didn't have, to really know how to run my own business before acquiring a team.
So to recap here, these are the pivotal mistakes that you need to avoid before starting your own business:
Not spending enough money or time on your own education to better yourself and craft
Not having a concrete road map of where and how to grow your business
Not keeping track of your finance (no matter how uncomfortable it is for you)
Investing too fast and too much on things you don't necessarily need in the early stages of your business
Hiring someone before fully understanding the task at hand first