The world of entrepreneurship is an exciting and scary one. Although many might contemplate starting their own business, few actually go through with it. If you’re one of the few that has decided this scary and exciting world is for you, then I have few tips that might come in handy when you’re getting started.
When I started my photography and video production business, I had no clue about running a business. I just knew I wanted to shoot video and make a living out of it. What I have listed below is what I learned and what I wish I knew going into the business world.
You Will Do (Almost) Everything Yourself- When you’re starting out, it is most likely that you don’t have a budget to hire an accountant, a marketing expert, an IT person, and more professionals that are needed to keep a business going. That is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that you will have to do everything yourself (or between you and your business partners). And that puts a lot of strain on the growth of your business when your attention is divided among everything. The blessing is that you will learn so much about all the different pieces that are needed to make a business work. From SEO to bookkeeping to designing websites, you will become a mini expert in all these fields. That is good for both self development and to become a good manager once you are in a position to hire others to do these tasks for you.
Business is the Majority of What You Will Do (Duh, it’s a Business!)– This was a huge surprise for me. If you’re in a creative field especially, you will be surprised too at how much of your time needs to be dedicated to non-creative work. This includes making sure your accounting is done on time and accurately, figuring out ways to market your company (this is the most time consuming), and customer/client service. If you think you will be spending all your time just doing what you love, you are mistaken.
Work Never Stops (But You Should!)- This is another curse and blessing. The blessing is, if you’re busy, it means business is good! You can just work, work, work. But the curse is that you will just work, work, work. There is no off time when you’re the boss and the employee. If you are willing, you can work all day and all night because there will always be something that needs to get done. You are living outside of the 9-5 boundaries. Days blend together and hours don’t matter. This takes a toll on your mind and body. Make sure to have a cut off time and try to at least take one full day off a week from your business. It will keep you refreshed and make you come back to your tasks eager to take everything to the next level.
It Helps if You’re Doing What You Love- Some people get into business simply to make money and some people get into business hoping to make money doing something they love. Both strategies could have a flaw. If you’re in it simply for the money, you might not have the passion that’s needed to keep you going when things get rough. If you’re in it to just pursue your passion, you might have overlooked if there is an actual need for what you have to offer. The sweet spot, as highlighted by The $100 Startup (one of my favorite business books, read the article I wrote about it here), is at the intersection of passion and demand. When people are willing to pay for what you love to do or are passionate about, you have found the magic spot! What helps me keep going after a 14-hr day sometimes is just purely my excitement to finish editing a video or to just see how a photo turns out.
Have a Plan (Read it Again!)!– Most people starting out in any business have no clue what they’re doing. Part of the fun and danger is to just learn as you go. However, having a plan is a completely different thing. What is the vision for your business? What’s the few ways you can make money in your business? How can it scale? Where do you want the business to be in one year, in five years? Keep all these things in mind when you’re starting out. You can figure out a strategy and tweak it constantly as you learn and grow, but having the plan to start with is very important because it determines the direction you travel into from day one.
The tips above are just a few of what I have learned these past years from running my own business. If you’re a fellow entrepreneur, please share your tips below!