Being an entrepre-solopre-neur is hard. It’s even harder when you still work another job full time. But I don’t begrudge my ability to do both, and honestly, I think COVID is to thank for that.
Because I am currently WFH, I have found extra time to start my businesses, which in fact is an extension of what I have been doing privately for some time.
But even though I am a new business, I also have learnt a hell of a lot, and continue to learn a hell of a lot in my journey. By no means am I saying I know everything, no, no no! But I do think writing about what you learn now, and then using it to reflect back on is useful when you need perspective.
Here are 10 things I have learnt starting a new business, but specifically during COVID.
- Having money as backup to support the startup of your business is really important. It definitely makes it easier when you need to purchase raw ingredients, pay for websites and register business requirements, such as business name registrations.
- You’ll do a lot of work unpaid in the beginning. If you craft, create, make, produce or grow, it will take a while before your efforts are converted into cashflow. But don’t let this stop you! Keep an inventory of everything you spend, including your time, and make sure you constantly review this to ensure your time, which you cannot get back, is well used. Which leads us to the next point.
- Planning is incredibly important. In soaping, we need cure time for at least 4-6 weeks and sometimes more, depending on the mixture used to make the soap. So I need to plan which soaps I am going to create, and when I plan to release them. I also need to look at my time, as I still work a full time job and whilst I am lucky I don’t have to travel now and save a minimum of 2 hours per day just in that alone, I still have other things to do. Having strict and logical organisation ensures you can meet all your deadlines and achieve milestones when you want to.
- Productivity is impacted by you. So this means, make sure you get enough fresh air, eat properly (don’t snack), get a workout in (even if its just a walk around the property), drink enough water, and rest. Take time to practice mindfulness and gratitude every day so you can stay grounded and focussed. If any of these things start to go down, your ability to multitask and get all your activities done will also start to deteriorate.
- Do your research. You may have been doing something a long time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it better. I’m not saying to over extend yourself or start trying to work a million miles an hour. I’m saying, look at the way others around you within your industry do it, and what is working for them. But don’t just take on an idea from another person if it doesn’t suit you. If you are a naturally extroverted person, then maybe filming videos or podcasts and interviewing others comes more naturally to you. Great. If you’re introverted, this won’t work for you, and you will hate it. Make sure you tailor everything you do in your business to suit you, because if you don’t you will find it much more challenging to turn it into what you want it to be.
- Make a business plan. Ask questions. Reach out to others who do something similar, or even just run a small business that isn’t in your industry. Look at your demographics. Look at who you want to sell to and why. Read about what others have done that has failed and succeeded. Find a template online that you can use to consider questions about your business, why you want to do it and what you want to achieve. Having done the ground work on this I felt much better when I started creating to a larger scale, as I had some specific goals I wanted to achieve and knew how to achieve them.
- Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. People will try to discourage you. People will think what you are doing is risky. I get it. I’ve had the same discussions with my confidants. But guess what? I did all the above. I did the research, I made the business plan, I reviewed and checked and read and understood all the good and bad, and I was still able to say, after conducting a thorough internal risk analysis, that I can do this. This also comes down to pricing your product or service, and deciding what you want to sell. Don’t undermine your own values or your time because someone else is selling cheaper. Yeh great, they may be selling it cheaper, but then they work for nothing. And at the end of the day, we all want to do this so we can have a small business to support our lifestyle.
- Learn about the effective use of social media. I hate social media. I actually don’t have it personally, other than one Instagram account. But I have tried previously to have a lifestyle blog without using social media to promote my blog and it failed. And I am ok with saying that. It is inevitable now that social media is ingrained in the way we can market, promote and reach our customers and potential clients. And unfortunately, as much as you may oppose it (again, I HATE it), it isn’t something we can escape. So instead of fighting it, learn how it is used to engage with communities and groups. Learn how to invite interest and pique curiosity. It can only serve to further your understanding of your demographics and how to engage with them.
- Write everything down. Whether it’s a recipe modification, an idea, or concept, write-it-down. Have notebooks in your study and your workspace. Have multiple pens in these areas. Keep a list of things on your phone. You will refer to this often. If you have a product launch plan, you will need to keep checking back to it to make sure you are on track.
- And lastly, have fun. If it isn’t fun, why are you doing it? It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to take time. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Everything you are currently working on now will come to fruition in time. And when it does, you will know that all that time and money you spent working longer hours, planning, organising, processing, being frustrated and even having a cry, will all be for good reason. It may take you a few months, it may take you a few years, but keep going.
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