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I have been an entrepreneur full-time since 2015, and I actually launched my first business in 2007. I have learned so many things over the years about growing and running a business. I have run a physical product business and I have run three service-based businesses. One of the most important things to realize, that a lot of us don’t at the beginning, is how much hard work running a business is and how much time and patience – on your part – it actually takes to be successful. Let’s dive into the 13 things that no one tells you about owning a service-based business.
This one is really hard! It definitely was for me as a perfectionist because the thought of bringing another person in to help me run my business was a bit of a panic-inducing thought at first, but here’s what I learned.
When it’s only me doing all the small things like writing blog posts, doing my social media, and doing research for clients, it kept me from my business. And if I am not in my business, it means that I am not able to do things to help it grow. If it doesn’t grow, then it’s not able to scale. It’s a vicious circle of chasing my tail that I get stuck in. We should all strive and want business growth as entrepreneurs.
While it did cause some anxiety, outsourcing has become one of my best friends. It has allowed me to grow my business into three separate businesses and take on more clients, help more businesses and do things I never imagined were possible, so please stop standing on the fence about this one. I promise it is worth it! Especially if you are stressed out and overwhelmed right now with your huge to-do list and everything you need to do for your business.
Investing in your business is difficult, especially when you are thinking about investing it into yourself. What if you took that money and used it to help yourself grow by learning a new skill? Not only did you just make yourself more marketable with the possibility of adding a new service to your roster and a way for new revenue streams, but you also took time for some personal development. Find the investments that most align with your business, put the time into them, and do the work. You will find that they pay off even bigger than you could have imagined.
As an introvert and a people pleaser, this is something that I have really struggled with over the years, but I am finally at a place in my business and my mindset where I have no problem saying no to clients or opportunities that don’t fit with my vision of my business and where it’s going. If work doesn’t light me up, then I have no problem saying no. I am choosing to focus on the things that I truly love to do.
This is a hard one for service providers and I get it. I was once in that game where I was low-balling and jumping at every offer just so I could get my feet in the door and get a client. But here’s the thing – after a few jobs like that, I soon discovered that I was miserable. When you don’t charge your worth, you quickly dislike what you do, or you do a poor job at what you do. And then all the things around you start to suffer. It is a lose, lose situation out of the gate.
The truth of the matter is that until you have some experience and skills under your belt, your fees might be less. That is okay, but just know that when you do get to that point where you are worth it, you better be raising that pricing bar. When you are pricing your services and packages, it’s important to make sure you take everything into account:
Just because you can do a job in an hour, doesn’t mean you charge an hourly rate for it. If you are super skilled and you can go fast and finish in an hour, then you need to charge for that skill. Not just your time.
I started with marketing one skill set in my business, and one only. Then what do you think happened? Well, I got stuck! I ran out of a client base quickly and I really had to dig for new leads and it left me feeling frustrated. When I up-leveled my business and brought more skills to the table and began offering additional services, that is when things got better. I spread myself out into different markets and was able to have a steady flow of things.
From there, you can even expand it to having different businesses, courses, products, membership, sites, and much more. Those are all creative options for your business to grow and bring different leads and revenue to the table.
One of the keys to business success is to find people that resonate with you, that you can connect with and that you can relate to in the online space. It can be lonely as an online entrepreneur, so finding people that you are aligned with and that you can collaborate with is a great way to always feel connected and stay creative.
Asking for help isn’t easy, especially when it comes to your business. The truth of the matter is asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign of true strength. It is showing that you know where your fault is and that you know you need someone who handles that fault better than you and can help you. Not only can you use these helping moments to learn how to strengthen your weak spots, but you can use them as a great way to connect with that person. Don’t shy away from help because it is one of the best resources you have!
How many times have you found yourself working yourself to the bone and then you get hit with sickness? It isn’t like a little cold that you catch, but it’s like you are knocked out on the couch for days. I’ve been there too. If I had just taken the time to pause, rest and give my body the time to recoup – not only would I have skipped the part of being sick – but I would have been able to finish all the work I needed to do and probably would have done it better than I had when I was sick.
Take the time to care for yourself. You will do work a thousand times better because of it. It is so important as service providers because we tend to get trapped in the hustle mindset which can be a very dangerous position to be in. I know you want to work hard and grow your business, but you also need to focus on yourself and make sure that you are a priority.
Have boundaries for your work-life balance. There is nothing more important than setting those boundaries in place to keep work at work. Often entrepreneurs are workaholics and we work so hard that it becomes difficult to turn it off and take time to just be and have a life. You need to set boundaries between work and life. I’ve learned to take the time to decompress, watch a movie, TV show or to just be. Setting those boundaries is hard, and it does take practice, but it is worthwhile to make sure you have those in place.
Once you get going in business, it is easy to get comfortable and stuck in a rut. You do things the same way and often times it works, but then there are times where it might stop working and you need to get out of that rut. Trying new things as a business owner is risky, but it can have some huge rewards. The digital marketing and online space is always changing, so it’s good to be open to trying new things because you never know what it will lead to. When you try something new, you can be on the brink of something that no one else has tried and become a trendsetter. You could be doing something that has been tried, but maybe not in your industry. You could also just be trying something that’s totally new to you.
Even when something is a failure, there are great lessons in everything you do. As a business owner, especially with failing, it is often hard to see what you can take away as a lesson. When you think something is a failure, you feel defeated. What you tried didn’t work. You didn’t do it the way that you should have or in a way that you thought was going to be amazing. And it just didn’t work out.
One of the best lessons I have learned in business is to take every opportunity as a chance to learn that failures are often the greatest teachers. You can take the time to learn how to improve, and see what went wrong. You can learn where your holes and weaknesses are. You can learn something new to offer your client base. The list is endless. Don’t be afraid to fail. It will teach you a lot.
A lot of times, it seems that it is all about the numbers and vanity metrics. Jane has 12K followers and that company has 50K followers. The list goes on and on. The truth is – those numbers are fluff! They don’t mean a thing. When it comes down to it, those numbers, aren’t where you should be focusing your attention. You need to look at what, those followers you do have, are doing and how you can best serve them. Instead of worrying about likes or follows, take the time to focus on the clicks, focus on the value you are giving your audience, how you can increase your reach and serve your audience best. Remember that your business is the solution to their issue. And since that is the case, those numbers don’t really solve anything. Forget the numbers and move on to serving.
This is super important and ties in a bit to knowing when to say no. We often get swept up in thoughts like
Somewhere along the line or some service that you are offering is going to lose the joy factor and you might want to drop it. That is absolutely okay. You don’t need permission to walk away from things that don’t make you happy, so focus on the things that do. The truth is when you’re doing work that you absolutely love, you will do better work. You will serve your audience and clients better. You will become the expert in your field and people will refer you like crazy. Nobody started an online business to do things that they don’t enjoy or don’t love, so if you feel like you are right now, you don’t need permission to stop that.
These 13 things are all lessons I have learned as a business owner for over 14 years now. So I’d love to chat with you about these things that no one may have told you.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned or what lesson you are currently struggling with right now in your business?
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