Eight years strong, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to start up and sustain a home-based business. Most of my lessons learned you can find in earlier blog posts and YouTube videos, but I seldom talk about them or even think about them these days. That is until I stumbled across this great post on Fizzle.co, where Richard B shared 5 Things He Learned In His First REAL Year of Entrepreneurship. I have to say this post was relatable, true to life for most of us and totally hilarious; an insightful fun read.
He was spot on with all his points, but number five definitely rang true for me, “There Are a Thousand Different Ways to Get Clients and You Might Need to Try Them All.”
Completely inspired by Richard’s post, here are my top 3 lessons learned from my first official year as a work at mom.
StartUps Don’t Pay Up Right Away
When your business becomes your primary source of income, things get real – real fast. It was 2007, I just moved from New York to North Carolina with a 6 month old son and a boyfriend with a broken leg. Bills needed to be paid and the baby needed to be fed. That said, I honestly would not have been able to survive without the little savings (less than $5000) that helped us stay afloat those first few months. In your heart you want to see profits pouring into your bank account from the start. But in reality it takes time to make a name for yourself and create a client base. Avoid quitting that job too quickly or being fooled by the false idea that online businesses are easy income generators. Make sure that you have a savings, investment capital, job, or supportive loved one to help you balance your bills during those first few months of building your business.
Don’t Spend All Your Time Trying to Get New Customers
“Traffic” seems to be one of those major trigger words for new entrepreneurs, it definitely was for me. I spent more hours than I care to mention trying to find new ways to get new customers, even when I had actual customers that I was working with. At some point I realized that it took a lot of time to woo folks who are new and when you are in the ‘wooing’ phase there is very little money to be made. On the flip side, those people who bought from you before are actually easier to sell too, because of that old ‘know, like, and trust’ factor marketers are always talking about. To that point, I soon began focusing more time on keeping my older customers than getting new ones. The most successful businesses are sustained not by new people, but by their loyal customers who come back regularly and bring others with them. Client retention is just as important, if not more important than new customer acquisition. A truth a try to teach newbies all the time.
Just do it and fail fast.
As a young women of color who has been in the business of technology and online entrepreneur for a long time, I often receive interview requests to share my story. On of the most common questions asked is always, “What’s one piece of advice that you can give to women trying to start their businesses now?” My response is always, “Like the Nike Commercial says, Just do it!” People gave me a lot of reasons why I should not be an entrepreneur. They told me that folks that look like me don’t do things like that. We get good jobs, we don’t start businesses. They told me I should more time focusing on being a good mom rather than a great boss. They told me I would always be where they were, my reality wouldn’t be different. And for a long time I told me that I couldn’t start my own business without the a partner or someone to help me get started. In spite of all the unsupportive things people told me and scary things I told myself, in the end I just jumped in and did it. I researched ideas and came up with ideas; some worked well while others were major flops. I never sat on my dreams, wished for help or waited for perfection. I just did everything that I could do to create a thriving home-based business. Through every success and failure, things got better, bigger, and stronger. I tell clients all the time perfection comes in the process of doing. It’s the best piece of advice that I can honestly give.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this. Definitely read Richard’s post and feel free to share some of your First Year Entrepreneur Lessons learned via the comment box below.
Another great read you may enjoy: Do These 50 Things Regularly and You’ll Become a Better Entrepreneur
For my fellow mompreneurs and aspiring work at home entrepreneurs, read more of my Work At Home Life posts here.