steep

I’m often asked how I started my business. I would love to tell you a story about how I did a ton of research, met with mentors, found advisors, wrote a perfect business plan, crafted an amazing marketing plan, and launched according to a timeline all neatly written out (and in a spreadsheet, of course).

It wasn’t like that.

In June of 2013, I decided it was time to leave my job. I hadn’t really been happy for awhile, and the timing was right, financially, for me and my husband. My plan was to take July off, use August to job search, then be employed by September. (Ever hear the phrase, “Men plan, God laughs?”)

I was afraid I might become bored, and I thought I could make a little money doing some marketing, so I posted to my personal Facebook page that I would love to help out friends and family with social media or web design. The needs (and customers) came out of the woodwork.

And just like that, I had a business.

I named my business on a whim. I designed my logo in about five minutes (maybe less). I took only a few hours to build out a basic website. I had hung my “digital” shingle. Two weeks later I rented an office, built a desk, and had my logo on the window. I was open for business.

But here’s the thing…as successful as I’ve been, I would totally do some of it SO differently. Here’s an opportunity for you to learn from my oversights.

TAKE YOUR TIME: You should take some time to name your business. Ask others for their input. Garner feedback from those whose opinions matter to you. You might end up with the first thing that had popped into your mind…or you might find something even better.

DESIGN YOUR LOGO THOUGHTFULLY: I’m actually pretty lucky in that people always tell me how much they love my logo. Others who have designed a logo in a short time (or bought one from a logo mill on the internet) live with regret…and redesigns. Again, input from others can be valuable.

GET A BUSINESS PHONE NUMBER: One thing I truly wish I had done was get a separate phone or phone number for business. Then I could turn it off without cutting myself off from friends and family.

BUILD A THOUGHTFUL WEBSITE: It may be okay to put up a landing page or temporary site, but do take the time to research the best design and content for your website. Make sure your SEO is done well.

FIND A MENTOR or COACH: ¬†You don’t have to go it alone. Find someone who can help you navigate the new waters of entrepreneurship.

One of the things I did well was to leverage social media to find a client base. Connections are the lifeblood of an entrepreneur. I also joined my local chambers of commerce, networking groups, and professional associations. I invest in continuing education to stay abreast of my field.

The path to success can be crazy, slippery, and treacherous…but it’s a path worth taking. Take it from me. I’d fall into business all over again to be where I am.