It’s no secret that running your own business is hard work. When those heady first few weeks of excitement and anticipation are a distant memory, getting to – and staying at the top of your game can be a constant battle.
So if you’re near the start of your self-employment journey, what are the key skills you might need to give yourself a fighting chance?
1. Be a self starter
One of the things I hear over and over again is people who talk the talk about doing something new but never actually get round to it. Whether it be as small as starting a newsletter or picking a new logo to as big as re-branding or getting a new website made, it’s always the same. Too much talk and not enough action!
My advice? Stop procrastinating, stop making excuses and just do it! I’ve known people who faff over getting the perfect logo or twitter photo or strap line for months and months. Just pick something and get on with it! You are not Coca Cola so it’s OK if you change your mind later and go with something else.
In a nutshell, no one is going to do anything for you or tell you off if you don’t do the things you know you have to. But your business will suffer. You have to push yourself, yourself. You have to be your own nightmare boss, your own deadline setter, your own bank manager breathing down your neck.
Things rarely happen quickly or without a significant amount of effort and hard graft. Even those people that you perceive to have been an overnight sensation have most likely worked their butts off for a very long time beforehand.
Don’t be put off if you don’t feel you’re getting to where you want to be right away. Persistence is vital. Do you know that most wannabe bloggers give up within the first 6 months? Keep on going… you’ll get there if you want it badly enough.
3. Don’t be afraid to hustle
Competition, especially in the wedding industry, is fierce and to get to the top you need to hustle. Hustle that little bootie off.
As a general rule us Brits (and I’d also say more women than men) hate to be seen to be showing off, but again, if you don’t do it no one else is gonna! You need to sell yourself. You need to put yourself out there. You need to let people know, in no uncertain terms, why you, and only you, are the person they need to book. This is not the time for shyness. So swallow that self-doubt and be loud and proud about your awesomeness!
Gala gave an amazing talk at NEPAblogcon recently about the three things bloggers don’t want to do (but it’s relevant to everyone). You need to go watch it (and take notes!) that girl knows her shiz.
Regularly reconnecting with that initial passion you felt when launching your business is fundamental to staying in love with it. When all the monotony, stresses and hard ass work that comes with working for yourself takes it’s toll, that’s the one thing that will keep you going. So make sure you set aside the time to keep being creative.
Keep pushing yourself to come up with new concepts, keep creating new things, keep working up new ideas, keep moving forward. Without this you’re in danger of falling out of love with your business and your craft. You’re at risk of all the crap that comes with working for yourself taking over completely. Take risks and remember to have as much fun with it as possible.
5. Have a thick skin
Running your own business is a very personal thing and so it can be really difficult to not take any set backs or criticism to heart.
It’s a sad fact of (business) life that growing a thick skin generally just comes with time and experience. My advice to anyone struggling to take the rough with the smooth is to make sure you have a close group of confidants you can hash it out with, to keep it off your social media (don’t air your dirty laundry in public!) and to really think about where the criticism are coming from and therefore if they’re at all valid. If they’re not, then as hard as it can be, ignore it!
Surround yourself with positive people and influences and don’t dwell on the negative. Seth Godin wrote an awesome article about ‘The Whiner’s Room‘. I’d encourage everyone to read it.
Consistency is key and should be something we all strive for. The ultimate goal is for people to see your work and know instantly that it’s yours. Your signature look needs to be strong and consistent across everything you do – from your actual products to your customer service, communication, blogging, social media, design and branding.
Building a strong and identifiable product and brand will make you stand out from your competition. One if the easiest ways to spot an amateur is if there’s no consistency with what they do.
I suck suck suck at anything to do with maths, accounting, tax returns… basically anything logical or technical! So mastering the art of delegation was a must for me in this area. I’m very lucky that I have a husband who’s a wizz at all the things I’m not (opposites attract and all that!) so for me, it was a no-brainer to pass these things onto him.
There will be things you struggling with in your business too. Whatever they are, can you figure out a way to pass them onto someone else? Whether you have a business partner or employee that can tackle them, or you make the decision to outsource them, it will be like a huge weight off your shoulders – believe me!
Then just let it go. You can’t physically do everything yourself so don’t feel bad about asking for help. Instead use the extra time to focus on the things that you’re really good at and that you enjoy. This will move your business – and your life – forward in a much more positive way.
8. Switching off
This is probably one of the hardest things to do when you work from home or you are in love with your job! My love of my work are teetering over to the point of obsession, but making sure I do take time away from the computer is vital for my sanity. Even if it’s just the evenings crashed in front of the TV, or one day a week hitting the shops. It’s sometimes easier said than done, but I’d implore you to give it a try. You’ll feel so much better, and ultimately more productive after some time away.