Monday, October 17, 2011

What I Learned In My First Year As A Business Owner

I have been so crazy, I wanted to take a second to reflect on the fact that I have pulled this whole thing off for an entire year! This month marks a year that leaped and let the net catch me as I started my own business, full time. Honestly, I still don't believe it that every day I wake up I can do whatever I want. Thankfully because I am so passionate about what I do, its usually hitting the ground running but if I wanted to take a bed day that would be fine too. (more about that later).

Some things that I was told, taught or learned that I can share.

1. Work with WHO you want to. It is easy to be very anxious and say yes to every piece of business that comes your way. After all, you are new-who are you to turn down good money? Once you get a good base however, I found that one the joys of working for yourself is the least you could do is work around people you enjoy. They don't have to be your BFF, but you can set the attitude, the expectation and the dynamic that makes your business yours. Why would you work for someone who didn't respect your time, your experience and your talent?  What does your boss say about such behavior? Yes, that's right...you now get to make that choice.

2. Work WHEN you want. I learned a lot about time management and I still have a far way to go. What works for me, may not work for you. Like I mentioned, I spent an entire year working 24/7 with the biggest smile on my face. Any former employers may take a second look of who is writing this blog...but I enjoyed what I did so damn much, that I had to tell myself to stop working...quite the difference between some jobs where it took me an act of congress to work with my whole heart in it the whole time. I rented office space to give me a little separation from it all. This has really kept me focused.

I also did the best to my ability to take bed day at least once a month. There is really no one to monitor you PTO, so a bed day takes care of that. I would do my morning work, schedule no other appointments, kiss the mister goodbye, shower, get into new Pjs, lowered the air, and enjoy a day from bed.. Sometimes I worked, sometime I caught up on TV and chilled and napped. The idea is, it is such a rat race-the least you can do is slow down and pull the cool sheets over your head. It was always exciting when a bed day presented it self...just a random day that nothing was scheduled became the day when I got a little of my sanity back.

3. Say HOW MUCH and go get your damn money. For the past ten years, my paycheck depended on how much I collected at the end of the month. So, I became really good at becoming Louie the Bill Collector. Starting your own business, you can set your own billing rules...I keep my prices aggressive, and make sure that everyone is crystal clear on my billing policy. Because my work is creative, I feel that a cash-up-front- or front of month is pretty mandatory. If someone decides to stiff you, you worked for free all month for nothing. Things I plan to write about soon have to do with this issue. Like the two times that everything was hunky dory with the client and then all of the sudden everything I did was wrong, nitpicking galore and they became a unhappy unreasonable client. You see, this validates the person when they cancel on you out of the clear blue because "this isnt working", which is code for I am out of money or I am shutting my doors soon. Every single one of my peeps are good pays, and I love them for that.  I stay on them politely and mid month send them a friendly reminder. It goes back to making it a rule to work with good people and dumping the bad attitudes, the non payers and the pain in the asses.

Some of the best advice I received was from my friends who worked for themselves and had some wisdom to share:


Don't hire an assistant to help you work, hire someone to do the stuff you no longer have the time to do-like clean your house. 


Be crystal clear about the things that you are good at, don't be good at 100 things, it puts you in a more focused position to help your client to the best of your ability. Why spread yourself thin? Be good at what you are good at and leave the rest to others. 


Stop using the word Just. I just wanted to...is a sentence I start so many times. It sounds like you are making excuses. So Stop. 


I ask you-what have you learned in business??


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