The longer you run a business, the more tidbits you pick up in terms of what works and what doesn’t. Over the past 12 years, I’ve made my share of mistakes. Here, I share what I’ve learned so you don’t have to make the same errors!
#1. Don’t Borrow Money When You’re Broke
I know. It seems counterintuitive. Don’t borrow money when you need it; borrow it when you have it. But take it from me: I took out a $10,000 loan early in running my marketing firm and it vanished into thin air. I didn’t buy a new computer or expand my business. I paid my bills. I caught up on what I was behind on. And then I had to pay it back, with no bump in revenue to assist with the payments. A
#2. Don’t Say Yes to Everything
When you’re starting out, you’re desperate to make money, and you don’t care where it comes from. And so you say yes to projects and partnerships that don’t exactly align with what you want to do in your business. Before you know it, your service offerings are all over the place, and no one — including you — knows exactly what you specialize in.
I know. I did exactly that in the early years. Because, again, logic told me that if I said yes, I’d make more. Right? But when I began saying no to things that were outside of what I wanted to be an expert in, something interesting happened. I started attracting more of the types of projects I wanted to work on. And I got really good at delivering results for those projects. And so I attracted more.
It can be scary to turn down work and money, but in the long run, your business will be stronger and more successful for it.
#3. Ask for Help
There’s a certain type of individual who is gutsy enough to risk everything to start a business that isn’t guaranteed to succeed. That type of person — what we often call Type A — usually thinks she can do everything in her business herself. And so she bumps along, doing a mediocre job in many areas without admitting it to herself. Unfortunately, this isn’t helping her business grow.
It may seem like a large mental hurdle, but once you let go of the idea that you can do everything yourself, asking for help gets easier. And getting help? Oh, man. My business has changed so much for the better because I have an amazing team of writers and kick-butt editor that help me service more clients with quality results.
#4. It’s Okay to Let Things Go
For many years, social media was one of my offerings to clients. I’d manage their accounts on their behalf. Only…I didn’t really enjoy it. It was time-consuming and not fun. I like having fun.
At the same time, I started questioning whether Google + was doing anything for my business. I was putting in effort there with little reward.
And so I made the decision: I wouldn’t offer social media management services anymore. And I’d stop updating G+. I pulled back a bit from other social media channels as well for my business. It made more sense to focus my attentions elsewhere. At first I felt bad. After all, I was a digital marketer…who was no longer all about social media. But still, I had to do what worked for me, and letting social go a bit was the right move.
If you absolutely dread some aspect of your business, ask yourself why. Ask if it’s helping you accomplish business goals. If not, why waste your energy there? Put it instead into something that reaps better rewards.
#5. Take Time Off
I am such a huge proponent of taking time off that I just might take the rest of the day off after writing this article! I know that some entrepreneurs are insanely busy and really have enough work to fill 80 hours a week. Actually…that’s a great reason to go back to #3 and get help!
But stepping away from your business is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Not only does it help you recharge your body and mind, but it also brings fresh perspective to work issues. I can’t tell you how many times simply leaving my office will spur creativity and help me come up with genius ideas. In fact, to brainstorm what I wanted to write about today, I got up from my desk, stretched, brushed my hair, and bam. There was the article idea!
Even if you only take off half a day once a month, commit to it. If you can take a long weekend, or even a week or more (I’m a big fan of 2-4 week vacations), your business will thank you.
#6. Hire an Accountant
Here’s a lesson I only recently learned, because my ex handled filing our taxes for years. But hiring an accountant, expensive though it may be, completely removes the headache of dealing with your business taxes. What I love about my new accountant is that he checked in with me in September to see how things were going, and made a few suggestions to keep me from having a massive tax bill in April. And he informed me that I could write off my insurance premiums, which I wouldn’t have known otherwise!
You can insert whatever professional service you need for this tip. Maybe you need a lawyer. Or a marketing company. Whatever the service that you aren’t an expert in, hire help. Believe me, in the long run, you’ll be glad you invested in it.
You’ll come up with your own list of tips over time as you find the best way to run your business!