5 Things I’ve Learnt Since Starting a Business
Post in collaboration with Choice Business Loans
If you’d had said to me, ten, even five years ago that I’d be making a full-time income via my own business I’d genuinely never have believed you. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and a burning desire to work for myself but to be honest it never felt achievable just yet. I thought it might be something that happens down the line, but why wait? Before I took the plunge, I was working a ‘normal’ 9-5 in a marketing agency. I followed a routine, and didn’t think much of it for the first couple of years but I started to yearn for a breakaway from the daily 7.20am alarm clock and never-ending Groundhog Day. I started reading a whole load of blogs, getting lost in people’s stories about becoming digital nomads, self-employed creatives, I wanted that.
And now I’m here, co -founder of Gray Hop Digital, but not without a few lessons and learnings along the way…
Trust your gut
I think the main thing I’ve learnt over the past 2 years of being self-employed is to trust your gut because in most cases it’s absolutely spot-on. If I feel a certain way about a potential client or project then it usually turns out to be correct. My business partner and I had a recent case of trusting our gut where a potential client wanted to sign up with us, but we had a feeling that it wasn’t the right project for us and we politely declined. Whilst turning the money down is hard, we knew it was the best thing to do for both parties.
Be prepared for a rollercoaster
This was an aspect that I definitely underestimated, the rollercoaster of emotions. I’d never suffered or experienced anxiety prior to leaving the world of full-time PAYE work. Suddenly, I was out there on my own. I felt as though I was in a tiny dingy boat in the middle of the Atlantic with no hope. I had a consistent feeling as though I was skiving from school and it really put me on edge. I think perhaps that’s just a side effect of leaving the Matrix, ha. The change in routine was an unexpected shock to my system and it took me around 6 months to feel more comfortable and confident with my decision.
Have a back-up fund
I’ve been fortunate that during my journey so far, I’ve been able to pay my bills and live quite comfortably but that doesn’t ever stop the worry in the back of my mind. My advice would be to have at least 3 months’ worth of rent/mortgage and living expenses in a savings account to give you peace of mind and breathing space. I always try to save as much spare cash as possible to build up a rainy-day fund just in case I was ever to find myself struggling.
Invest where you need to
When my business partner and I took the leap with Gray Hop, we made a casual decision not to invest in a website, which seems mad right? We were lucky that a lot of the work coming our way was via referral and contacts but our thought process changed when we were introduced to our lovely business mentor! Having a mentor is invaluable, and has really given us direction and focus. We decided that we needed to invest in the future of our business, and therefore a website was essential – and custom websites don’t come cheap. We know this will 100% be worth it in the long-run, and if like us, you want to invest in your business but you’re financially limited, you could look into a business cash advance. This is a business-specific loan that allows you to raise finance based on your business’s credit card turnover. It might be worth looking into if you’re investing in a costly website or perhaps even a piece of expensive software/equipment and need a little extra time to pay it off.
Organisation is essential
I wouldn’t say I’m a disorganised person in the sense that I always meet deadlines and have my shit together but finances and spreadsheets aren’t my thing. When you take the plunge into owning your own business, it’s essential that you up your organisation and stay on track of your income, outgoings, expenses and so on. I’m lucky that my business partner is incredibly on it when it comes to that side of things, but I’ve definitely started to take a leaf out of her book! This also helps with the anxiety, I feel much better when I’m on top of admin and my spreadsheets are updated.