I have been a business owner for more than 7 years -- first as a child care business owner and most recently as a digital marketing and communications consultant. With each business I have faced challenges and learned important lessons about what it means to be in business for yourself.
My first business didn't require much marketing or networking to become established. The need was great and the service was well understood. I created a safe, engaging environment and word spread organically. I concentrated on being the best child care provider I could be and didn't worry about connecting with other business owners. I had a mentor who guided me through a few client issues, but other than that I didn't experience the roller coaster ride that many start-ups experience.
With my current business, it is not as straightforward. This roller coaster ride is extreme and requires a tight seat belt. Business is growing exponentially every day, but there are many lessons in humility. I now understand what it really means to be a solopreneur and work for yourself. You have to rely on your strength of character and willpower to get through this ride. For me, this experience would not be possible without a strong community or network. With each success I am filled with gratitude and a desire to share what I have learned.
Below are 10 Lessons Learned as a Startup Entrepreneur
1 - All connections can lead to business, but not when you always expect it.
Every connection is an opportunity for business. This is a reminder to always foster your relationships. Follow up and never burn a bridge.
2 - Always believe in yourself and your services. If you don't who will?
Believing in yourself will make the difference. Practice visualizing your dreams before going to bed each night and remember that you will always be your own best advocate.
3 - Do not devalue yourself. You are worth it.
Even if you are struggling to find business, do not devalue your services. You are worth it and the right clients/customers will come along. A little patience and perseverance goes a long way.
4 - Be authentically you in all interactions.
You are good enough. There is no need to pretend to be someone else. Authenticity always shines through, so be yourself in all interactions.
5 - Starting a business requires faith, hope and hard work.
Starting a business takes some faith, a lot of hope, but most of all it requires hard work because nothing will ever happen without putting in the time and effort.
6 - Just because others don't get it, doesn't mean you are making a mistake.
Not everyone is going to understand why you are choosing to start your own business. Not everyone is going to understand what you do or how you can sustain an income living your dreams. Just because "they" don't get it doesn't mean you are making a mistake. Hang on to your passions and keep going.
7- Never stop learning your craft. Then share what you learned with others.
There is always more to learn and trends to stay on top of, so keep exploring training opportunities, continue reading and never stop researching. Once you learn something, share that knowledge with others. Be the teacher and the student!
8 - Don't just join communities... create community everywhere.
When you are building a business by yourself it's important to create your community. You don't have to go without support. Find like minded people to bounce ideas off of and you will all grow together.
9 - Find a support system of fellow entrepreneurs and be an active contributor.
While your family and friends can offer some support, there is something to be said for leaning on other entrepreneurs. You need to surround yourself with people who understand your passion for creating your own business.
10 - Ask for help! Lean on people who know more, then mentor someone else.
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. In order to succeed in life and business, you have to be willing to not only ask for help, but to offer help to others.
Am I missing anything? What are some of the most important lessons you have learned?
Nicole Dash is the Founder of Connect Authentically. She helps businesses build, engage and grow a community in an authentic way through digital marketing management and communications consulting. Sign-up for the Connect Authentically Newsletter to receive a free eGuide that includes 10 Tips to Find Your Authentic Voice.
This first appeared on Connect Authentically.