Today, I want to share five things I wish all of my clients knew when they started their businesses. Owning a business can be terrifying. No matter how many other (seasoned) business owners tell you that it will turn out to be the best decision you ever made, getting to that realization can be a long and lonely road. I opened my law firm in April 2016 with little more than a prayer. It has been two years and I am still on my journey to that blessed day of realization. However, I know I get closer every day.
1. Boundaries are good. Embrace them.
You will pour yourself into your business. You will think about it every waking hour. You will breathe your work in and out, and forget to eat some days. But, you are not your business, no matter what the interweb coaches tell you. The best advice I have is to implement boundaries and honor them. We need emotional boundaries to protect our hearts and brains, and legal boundaries to protect ourselves and our families from the liabilities of our business in the event disaster strikes.
Emotional boundaries include saying no to new business when you do not believe you have the capacity or desire to take something (or someone) new on, allowing yourself to spend time with friends and family in a fully present way during nonbusiness hours, and setting reasonable client expectations.
Legal boundaries include proper business formation, such as an LLC or an S-Corp., and observing the corporate formalities necessary to maintain a separate legal existence from your business, according to the laws of your state. If you need help implementing legal boundaries in your business, head on over to the "book now" tab on melissayoungman.com to schedule a 30 minute consultation. If you mention this blog post, we will waive the $150.00 consultation fee.
2. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Just like any other worthy endeavor, running a business is hard. You may have years of experience working for someone else in your field, even in a management role. But, such experience does not always translate into running a successful business. Nothing prepares you for the uncertainty of it all. There will be lean days and rewarding days ahead. In the beginning, it will be hard to predict your cash flow. Your projections will not mean anything until your business establishes its own unique rhythm. You will need faith and endurance. The best advice I have is to take it day by day. You will survive because you are a visionary and you are an innovator. It never would have occurred to you to start your own business, otherwise.
3. Finding clients is hard, even if you had them before. So, innovate or die.
Clients are out there, but, you are now different. You will likely need to market in a different way. You are different because you are depending entirely on yourself to make the pitch and do the work, probably, all of the work. Most likely, you do not have the same amount of administrative support that you are used to. But, this is not actually a bad thing. When you start from scratch, you have complete freedom over every aspect of your business. You can design every element. You no longer have to do things a certain way because someone else always did them that way. It's your show! You create the magic and the rules. Have fun with it. Always be innovating, because that is who you are, and that is what will make your dream a reality.
4. This path can be lonely, but it does not have to be.
A funny thing will happen when you go out on your own. At first, everyone you know will be happy for you and will want to send you business. But, that could slow down as people get used to the new you. Keep nurturing your current connections, but, always be on the lookout for new ones, too.
One thing I was not prepared for when I went out on my own was the social isolation. As a true solo, I can no longer run down the office hallway, plop my feet up on my friend's desk, and dish about what that one (obnoxious) person said in court today. I can still dish, but, it takes a bit more planning now (and driving). I recommend that you intentionally schedule regular lunches, coffees, walks, and facetime appointments with all of your past favorite colleagues and connections. But, I also recommend that you look to create new connections with similarly situated business owners. It's nice to be able to bounce ideas around with others who know exactly what you are going through.
5. Some things you just have to learn on your own.
The last, best advice I can give you is that you will just have to learn some things on your own. There is a lot of noise out there about the next best thing you need to grow your business, especially on social media. Have faith in yourself. Just because some business coach swears by a certain business model, it does not mean that you have to. You know yourself. If it feels right, give it a try. If it does not work out, pick yourself up and try again.