For my second article in the “Good, Bad and Ugly” series, I have decided to talk to you about a subject that is completely different to the usual Yoga, Nutrition or Travel, but which a lot of you have asked me to share: the entrepreneurial life.
As you will know by now if you’ve read my About page or if you follow me on Instagram, a little over a year ago I quit my corporate job to enter entrepreneur-ville as a Marketing Consultant. A year later, I feel it is time to review my experience and share the knowledge acquired so that anyone out there who is looking to set up a business can take away a few tips and be one step ahead when they will take the plunge and set out on their own.
Entrepreneurial life: The Cool Part
Doing what you truly want to do – You’re probably thinking “well, duh!” but believe me, you will need to remind yourself of that fact every time you feel down and believe me, this will happen more often than you expect. Doing what you truly want to do is a luxury and like any other luxury product, the price to pay is high. You will spend at least twice as much energy than you would in a nine-to-five and you will most likely spend a significant chunk of money / personal savings setting up your business and getting it to take off. But you know what, all of this doesn’t matter because you are doing what YOU truly want.
The Freedom – Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be free from your responsibilities, to the contrary. However, you will be free to make your own decisions as to what you think is best for you and your business. You will be free to decide what you want your calendar to look like and organise your day the way that you want to.
Being your own boss – Not having to report to anybody is a game changer. It can put a lot of stress on your shoulders because you ONLY rely on YOURSELF for EVERYTHING. Therefore, if one day you want to bum around, you can and no-one will be there to tell you off. But beware, you will also be the direct recipient of the consequences. However, the feeling of freedom that you get from being your own boss is highly addictive.
The Networking – This is one of my favourite things to do: meeting lots of likeminded people (because all entrepreneurs no matter what sector they evolve in, are like minded) who sometimes work on fascinating projects and sharing the awesome times and stressful periods with them too. Obviously, not everyone will be nice or interesting, but the ones that are can and will make for amazing business partners and uplifters. You just need to find the right ones 😉
Making more money – Only 1 in 12 businesses really take off. But those who do, NEVER look back. Because not only do they benefit from all the above, but they also most likely are making way more money than they would if they were still an employee.
Entrepreneurial life: The Less Cool Part
Patience is a virtue – Whoever wrote this quote, must have been an entrepreneur 😝When you set out on your own, it is always with the hope that you will be very successful very quickly. But let’s be honest, aside from Mark Zuckerberg, most people who launched a business took years to become really successful – they often took years to even break even! So patience is really key here. If like me you are naturally impatient, prepare to be heavily challenged. Because NO, things won’t happen overnight and YES, it will take a lot of work, networking sessions, meetings etc… before you get your first real breakthrough. So arm yourself with patience because with enough perseverance, it WILL happen. Which leads me to my next point.
Self confidence to the test – Being self-employed is hard for the mind in many ways. But what takes the hardest toll is your self-confidence. It’s a mean world out there and you will most likely run into people that will put your confidence to the test. They might tell you that they don’t see why your product/service is better than any other; they might tell you that they find you irrelevant; they might cancel on you thousands of times because some “unexpected” more important things came along; or worst of the worst, they might tell you that they will do business with you and then cut you out at the last minute without telling you why. Whatever it is, don’t EVER lose sight of the fact that you are a great person: you were brave enough to get out of the “comfortable” circuit of the nine-to-five, you are a very hard worker, you know your product/service and its advantages and most importantly, you know YOUR worth. Always remind yourself of that fact whenever things get rough.
Outside the comfort zone – This was never an issue for me, I am very adventurous at heart. But I know that for some people it is very hard to step out of that zone and keep being proactive. Many people are naturally introvert, or were traumatised by something that happened at some point in their lives when they stepped out of their comfort zone. But it doesn’t mean that those people shouldn’t have the right to try and be their own boss too. It’ll just be more challenging in this aspect. It will be hard and you will have to force yourself to get out there and meet people and talk to them and present yourself in a good way. But here’s the good news: just like any sport, the more you practice, the more it will become natural to you 😉
Competition – It is most likely you will have competitors out there. And depending on what your offer is, you will learn to approach them or find your place within your sector without letting them take over. For instance, in what I do, I can create strategic partnerships with other fellow consultants and we can refer each other to our prospects if we get too much work or if we feel there would be more synergy with someone else. This strategy isn’t possible for everyone nor is it possible in every sector. But whatever it is that you do, you will find a way to coexists with your competition, if you do your research and if you get out there and talk to them. A competitor isn’t an enemy! You can still interact and learn from them!
Useless meetings – This is something that I struggled to cope with a lot. As an entrepreneur, you need to put yourself out there and meet as many people as you possibly can to start getting yourself known within your industry. Unfortunately, the more you meet people, the more your chances of attending some useless meetings will grow. By “useless”, I mean that you suddenly realise that the person won’t be of any use for you and vice versa, that they don’t correspond to your target audience, or simply that you don’t have a good feeling about them. Because in business just as in personal life, sometimes you are going to feel uncomfortable in somebody’s presence and you won’t be able to explain why. With time, you will learn to decipher those people and avoid meeting them and wasting both your time and theirs. It is a long learning curve but you get there eventually.
Lack of support – For my final point I would like to talk about the occasional lack of support that you will feel. Being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely business. And you have to remember that everybody out there is working towards something, no matter where they are in life or what they are doing. Therefore, you might not always get the attention that you will feel you need. That’s fine, you will learn to get over it and move on quickly. But as I previously mentioned, it will put your confidence to the test. Just remember that you made that decision alone and therefore, you are bearing the responsibilities alone. So you won’t always be getting the support you were hoping for, and that’s fine: you live and learn 😊.
I hope the above has given you a bit of insight into self-employment and what to expect from it. I personally knew about some aspects but found out about others the not-so-pleasant way. It’s fine, being and entrepreneur is the single most exciting professional adventure I’ve ever had and no matter how it ends, I will forever be proud that I tried my hand at it.
So, if you have made your decision already and want to take the plunge, here are a few aspects to think about as of now:
- Think of something that really differentiates you from the rest of your competitors. Having a niche market or a specific target will give you more focus and direction and will help the people who want to help you to target the right prospects for you. It will help you address your audience in a better way, tailoring your offering to a specific market by speaking their language.
- Have the name of your company, your website and all personal and professional social media platforms ready. You want your potential client to find you easily online but you don’t want them to find your drunken pictures from last night on Facebook!!
- Have your sales arguments ready for any occasion. Before you even start talking about your business to people or planning your first meeting or networking event, make sure you know exactly how to sell yourself. Be ready to answer the basic questions such as “what do you offer”, “what is your background”, “what is your product” and “why is it better than others” – you never know who you might meet and when. Which leads me to my next point:
- Always have a few business cards at hand!!!
- Join some networking groups – these WILL bring you the necessary support, both professionally and mentally. As humans, we all need to be part of a circle that we can relate to: our families, our friends and our professional circles are the pillars of our adult lives. Now that you are out of your office building, make sure you get in a networking group. The people there are more often than not entrepreneurs themselves and are going through the exact same issues as you, whatever the sector they work in. Some will most likely be experienced entrepreneurs and will therefore be able to advise you on plenty of challenges that you might face. I have joined a group called BNI who are an international networking group and have a presence literally all around the world. Which means that wherever I travel, I can join a group for a morning meeting and meet new potential partners and clients.
- Put yourself out there as much as possible – Aside from your networking groups which are your pillars, make sure you attend lots of events relevant to your field. Sign up to Meetup, read your local magazines / journals / newspapers or simply Google “[Sector] events in my area” to keep up to date with all the events happening locally. You never know where your next client might come from!
- Be sure to have enough savings / a backup plan / a part time job – Although this is a “duh” point, I still want to write it up 😊
- Meditate / Do some sports – No matter how busy you get, never forget to set aside some “ME” time in order to breathe and reboot. Your mind needs to clear up once a day in order to make better decisions for the future! And of course, your body still needs you! Healthy body = healthy mind and vice versa.
- Be patient! – I will not stress this enough. Just because your first few meetings fall through, don’t EVER question your capacity to find business or your capability to do your job properly. Things take time and some people get lucky faster than others. Move at your own pace and let the universe do its job 😉
- Trust your gut – It is very hard to do, I admit it. But trusting your gut feeling is the best thing you can do in business. Don’t try to force something if you know deep down inside that it isn’t right for you. It is especially hard to do when you are self-employed because you need the money but please, don’t go for it if it feels wrong because you will most likely get a very bad experience out of it and either be disgusted by entrepreneurial life or disappoint your client and negatively impact your reputation.
I could be going on and on forever on the subject but I will stop now 😝 and finish off with this:
Think well before you dive into entrepreneurship, because although I do believe everybody should have the right to try, the hard truth is that not everyone will succeed and you need to be properly mentally prepared for that risk. I have tried to list all the good things and the less good things about being an entrepreneur and now you might think it’s very scary but remember ONE crucial thing: the freedom you get out of it by far outweighs all the bad aspects. And even if you don’t make it as an entrepreneur, it won’t EVER be a failure. You were brave enough to put yourself out there and try. Maybe the market wasn’t ready, maybe there’s already too much competition out there, maybe you didn’t get lucky in time before it became a financial issue, but whatever it is, it ISN’T because of YOU. You tried, it didn’t happen this time around but it will the next time – Just don’t ever give up and don’t ever stop believing that you CAN do it. And whatever the outcome is, what you will get out of it in terms of knowledge of yourself and how to manage and handle certain situations will be priceless.
I myself am still at the stage where I am trying to find the one deal that will get me going for good. So everything that I listed above is coming from a place in the KNOW and in the NOW. It takes time and it might not happen for me this time around. But I will never judge myself negatively for having tried.
If you are thinking of setting out by yourself and need further advice on the strategies to adopt, don’t hesitate to reach out. After all, aside from being the yogi you know, I am also an experienced Marketing lover 💖