We all hold people or businesses aloft as those who inspire us or we may wish to emulate. It’s important that we have these people to aspire too. They give us an ideal that we want to match or perhaps surpass?
Only a few years before I started my business back in 2013, I would have thought it inconceivable for me to run a business for this long and actually make it successful. Why? Because I had never run a business before and I had no idea where to start.
You may think it necessary to have a business certification or diploma to get started or it’s only possible through partnerships and Boards of Directors. I know I thought I did initially. However, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can conceivably start a business by simply getting started!
It’s an expensive effort to start a business, in both time and money. Maybe less so right now because we can only really market ourselves online. So maybe the time to start would be right now?
Understanding how much money you need to start up very much depends on the type of business you have. If you’re selling products, then obviously you need stock and possibly storage for the stock. If you’re a services-based business, then there’s likely to be less initial financial outlay.
Creating a budget is very subjective, and unless you have a real idea of what is going to sell to your brand new audience, there’s no telling what you need to get here.
I’ve heard businesses have initially started with a small stock of items, maybe 4 or 5 initially. This means your marketing message is specialized and leaves you targeting and marketing to ONLY the people that will buy these products.
Others have bought all goods under the Sun and then created a wider audience.
So much depends on your marketing, time, and messaging. Only you can decide what you can devout more time too.
As a service myself, I had no extreme outlay financially, but at the time I had no money! I remember my first logo was from Fiverr and cost me $19.95. The image aspect of logo was free from a free website.
I bought my cards from Vistaprint and had nothing else at all marketing wise (roll up banners, leaflets, etc.) for the first year or two. I kept the brand colors and used Microsoft Word documents using their “Design Ideas” function to create something beyond my skills.
Listening to Your Audience
It was fortunate that I didn’t have a huge amount of money too early, as I felt that needed to pivot only 18 months later, and ended up rebranding! This is quite common for startups. If what you’re doing isn’t working, you’ll need to pivot to maybe retarget and niche your audience and messaging. I did this by doing a survey and a focus group. Time wise this was a bit all-consuming, but so worthwhile!
I had to change everything, apart from my website name back then. I’ve recently pivoted again, as the interest in my services has changed. If we remain inflexible, our audience goes to someone else.
I spent the first two years of my business essentially attending the opening of an envelope. I spent hundreds on joining networks, travel, food, tolls, etc. It stood me in good stead for a long time, but in the end it got too expensive.
However, after all of that I was able to glean which networks worked best for me. I was able to establish who my ideal audience was and where to find them. I also had built up a sufficient business network and reputation that now my networking involved speaking.
Speaking does take time refining and building in confidence. Once you have started though, it’s easier to continue. It’s like most muscles; it stays in good shape the more you flex it!
Yes…there are times when even this goes wrong! I remember that for an event last year I had prepped my half hour workshop for a public event and sent the slides to the organizer. I then changed the slides again and sent the new ones over to the organizer a few days later.
I was clicking on to slide 16 towards the end of my presentation and was confronted with 3 slides I wasn’t expecting! The organizer had put the last presentation up in error.
When this happened, I “by accident” dropped my clicker and composed myself before continuing. It was mortifying to me, but I honestly don’t think anyone else noticed.
No one knew what was on the next slide!
I somehow survived this experience and frankly found the whole thing exhilarating. Living on a knife edge like this for a humdrum stay-at-home Mom made this all the more exciting!
Making a Mistake
I’ve made a few large and small mistakes over the years, and incredibly I’ve manage to survive them all. Some of them have been quite serious too. You must understand this though, it’s vital for all startups to make these mistakes.
At least each time you make a mistake, you’re putting yourself out there. You’re learning and gaining knowledge. ALL of my lessons over the years are now Terms and Conditions on my website.
Nothing has ever changed if you’ve changed nothing. Let’s be honest, most of the time things work out OK as well. What I find held me back and other businesses is not the potential for mistakes but the business owner themselves and their lack of confidence.
Stop waiting for the perfect time, perfect idea, and perfect audience. There really is only one life we live and while you’re doing something that you’re so passionate about, you really don’t end up working at all. Being an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Seek mentors, from friends or from local business owners and step out of your comfort zone, no one ever got any where being there!
If you want to speak to Melanie about this article or any matter to do with Social Media Training, Digital Marketing Strategy, or Event Speaking, email firstname.lastname@example.org.