Jenna Gorham is a Registered Dietitian in Bozeman, MT. She graciously agreed to write up some tips and share her insights about what she has learned thus far in her entrepreneurial journey. You can also find her tips on her blog at www.jennagorhamrd.com as well recipes and nutrition tips, so go check her out!
9 things I learned my first year in business
Like many entrepreneurs, I jumped into business without any previous experience or business education. Needless to say, it’s been quite the adventure and I’ve learned a ton along the way.
I personally don’t think you need to have a business background to start, run, and operate, a business (I also don’t have one, so I may be biased). I think it’s one of those things you learn as you go through making mistakes and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. Below are a few things I’ve learned during the first year of my entrepreneurial journey.
1. less is more
Early on I wanted to do everything and had new ideas I wanted to pursue every day. I wanted to counsel clients; have a membership site; do freelance writing; host webinars; give grocery store tours; I had endless ideas. While it’s great to have excitement and passion in your business, I’d encourage you to start with fewer services and do them really well.
Be clear in your offerings and confident in your services, skills, and knowledge. As hard as it can be, stay focused on the direction of your business. You can eventually offer more services, but to start I think you’d benefit from doing just one or two things really well.
2. you do you
If you’re like me and jumped into business without knowing a thing about business, it can be easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing. During the first six months I was in business, I was constantly looking at my colleagues’ websites, listening to podcasts, and watching endless webinars. I was completely wrapped up in what everyone else was doing. When I finally turned my attention to me and my brand and my audience, it paid off.
Whether you are the face of your business and brand or not, people tend to buy a story, a connection, or a relationship they have with a person or company. It’s hard to build a relationship if you’re trying to be someone else or doing what you should do based on something you read somewhere. By being authentic to you, your passions, your strengths, and your brand, you’ll provide a more quality service and be more successful in the long run.
3. start a blog
Blogging isn’t for everyone, but it is great for a few reasons. Updates to your website (like blog posts) help boost your SEO. Blogging also helps your readers and potential clients see you as an expert and get to know, like, and trust you. I also find blogging helps me learn more about certain topics.
When controversial topics or questions I don’t know the answer to come up, I take it as an opportunity to do some research and write a blog post. It can also be a good way to create content to share in multiple ways – a simple blog post can turn into a free download to collect emails, a video lesson, and social media posts. If you think blogging is for you, the sooner you start the better.
4. be visible
For the first six months I was in business, I was really good at hiding behind my computer (unintentionally). I spent a lot of my time watching webinars, reading blogs, and figuring out what I was doing. Once I stopped hiding behind my screen and watching what everyone else was doing, I switched my attention to my own business and brand. I became visible both online and in person through social media, guest blog posts, and local community events. People started to find out about me and my services.
6. network & build community
People don’t know about your business unless you tell them. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, people in your field, mentors, and anyone else. Partner with other local businesses to host events or set up a table at other events to promote your product or services. You will learn a ton and find endless opportunities by connecting with others both in your local community and online.
7. leave your part-time job
A bit extreme? Maybe. A fellow business owner told me this about six months ago when I was about to accept a part-time job. She said at some point you need to make the jump. I knew she was right but at the time I guess I wasn’t quite ready. You’ll know when you’re ready. Sometimes part-time jobs are needed to pay the bills – I get that, I’ve been there. But, at some point, your business will need your full attention, time, and energy. Make the jump.
8. you don’t have to work 8 hours a day
The nice thing about working for yourself is that you can make your own schedule. You can decide when your workday starts and when you’re ready to wrap up for the day. You can set your deadlines and meeting times. When I first started out, I felt like I had to start working at the crack of dawn and continue up until I went to bed.
The thing was, I didn’t actually know what I was doing and probably wasted a lot of time. I’ve recently heard multiple entrepreneurs say that they chose to start a business because they wanted to work fewer hours and make more money. I’ve also talked with successful entrepreneurs who only work 25 hours a week and others who take off for months at a time. Point being – it’s OKAY.
9. summer will be slow, but fall will pick up
This is something I wish I knew before my first summer in business. During the spring of my first year in business, I felt busy. I felt like I had a decent amount of clients and close to a full caseload. I was consistently blogging and connecting with my audience and was getting the whole business thing dialed in. But when summer came, the phone stopped ringing. I panicked and picked up a part-time job.
When September rolled around my schedule picked up again. For most industries, it seems as though summer is slower for business. People are more interested in their summer vacations and tend to be less interested in making improvements to their health, business, life, home, office – you name it. Once fall and winter roll back around they’re back in a routine and ready to make changes, get organized, and spend money.
Like anything in life, you learn more and more as you do it. You have to start somewhere and if you keep waiting for the perfect time, it may never happen. Take the leap, it will be worth it.