I remember very vividly where I was when I “started my business”.
Unlike most businesses, The Rule Breaker’s Club doesn’t have a clear date of conception. I was fumbling around blogging and writing online for a couple of years before this particular website came about.
But I can very vividly remember sitting on my bed in my tiny-ass rooftop room in Paris (with a view of the Eiffel Tower!), eating sushi and drinking beer thinking…
“I wish someone would just tell me what to do!”
There’s never going to be a day that you wake up and think, “Oh my God! Life is suddenly so easy! Sweet!”
At the beginning, though, there’s a particular kind of self-doubt, overwhelm, and torture that won’t end until you gain some traction, get some clients, and start bringing in some money.
I’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into this business (more tears than sweat and more sweat than blood).
I’ve made sacrifices like living at home with my mom when I really didn’t want to, taking on part-time jobs to relieve the financial pressure on my business to succeed right away, and saying no to more than a few invites from friends for weekend trips, etc. (I also had to go 6 months without seeing my boyfriend because I took B-School instead of buying a plane ticket).
And now, two years later, I’m on the other side of the “starting a business” hurdle, here to help those of you who are going crazy.
There’s 3 things that I recommend doing when you’re first starting out in business. If you do any of these things you’ll be in good shape:
1. Do not quit your day job or put too much pressure on your business to perform before you have the revenue to prove it.
Guilty as charged of ignoring this rule, and I probably could have grown my business a hell of a lot faster if I hadn’t made it my be-all-and-end-all so early on. But I couldn’t help buying that one-way ticket to Paris, damnit!
Here’s my advice for those of you who are in full-time jobs or who are in part-time jobs doing your business part-time: keep working.
It’s so easy to become mesmerized by a rush of inspiration when you read about how so-and-so entrepreneur is earning six or seven figures in just six months after quitting their job! You hear these stories and you just want to punch the person in the face, don’t you?
(Obviously I’d never do that. I’m not violent (have you seen me?) and I’d never punch anyone in the face-- and I’m honestly genuinely happy for these people. Seriously! It’s just that I know reading their stories doesn’t always help or inspire. Sometimes it just makes you feel worthless).
There’s more to so-and-so’s story. I promise that it’s being romanticised.
There are always consequences to getting to the next level of success, even though they’re totally worth it! There’s no such thing as overnight success.
This person has likely been working on this business for years, had contacts, knew exactly what they were doing based on experience, or took a lucky risk (which can be analyzed for strategy but never copied).
Your business can pass the 6-figure mark. Your business can even pass the 7 figure mark (even if that seems a bit too greedy for you right now). And as you’ve read in forty bajillion articles already: YOU CAN LIVE WHATEVER LIFESTYLE YOU WANT. It’s all true.
But trust me when I say that you need to see proof (and lots of it) that your business can succeed before you submit your two-week’s notice and go rogue.
Again, guilty as charged.
When you do quit your side job / day job, you should be able to project with some confidence where your next business will come from and not feel like you’re free falling. If you quit too soon, you’ll have too much financial stress and won’t have time to grow your business because you’ll be too busy hustling your buns off for the next month’s rent money. (Not fun. Not fun at all).
2. Figure out these three things:
WHY you’re in business (what inspires you deep down to take this leap into entrepreneurship and start a movement. Entrepreneurship is always a movement and WHY you’re in business is actually more important than what you do).
What your brand feels like. Is it fun? Serious? Cheeky? Minimalist? You don’t need to over-analyze this, but you do need to be clear on what interacting with your business will feel like. In other words: What’s your personality?
What results do you produce in people’s lives and why should they care? Speak their language. It’s much less important for you to state how you get people to those results or what you do while you work. People care about results. What’s in it for me, bro? Think very seriously about why anyone should care about why anyone should care about buying a piece of what you do and write it down because you’ll need to communicate it in your copy.
3. Start working with people, talking to people, and being of service ASAP. Like, yesterday.
You don’t need to craft the most perfect-est service offer that the world has ever seen. You just need to start getting out there and being helpful. NOW.
When I first started as an entrepreneur, I was offering résumé writing services to my friends, family, high school and college students, and then eventually to clients who I found through my website and social media.
I did résumés for free for a handful of people until I got the hang of it and realized I was pretty damn talented. (Go me!)
If I’d quit my job and put too much pressure on myself to make money with résumé writing, however, I would have gotten stuck.
After several months, I realized that I didn’t want to work with job-seekers or write their stupid résumés. I wanted to work with entrepreneurs and write their kick ass copy.
I had a few side-jobs (i.e. I wasn’t totally broke), so I plopped $2K on Marie Forleo’s B-School. I changed my offerings and started copywriting by doing the same things I did when I first started offering résumé writing services: work for free, get some paid clients, then start raising your prices. The rest is history. And future.
4. Focus on sales. Sales = business. Ignore this at your own peril.
The sooner you start focusing on sales as the heart of your business, the less time you will waste and the sooner you’ll hit four, five, and six figures or more.
Sales -- talking to people about what they desire and telling them how you’re going to help them get just that-- is the lifeblood of every business.
Stop tweaking your website (so much).
Stop freaking out about your logo or business cards (you don’t need an effing logo OR business cards!).
Stop messing around getting your desktop organized just perfectly.
Stop reading so many self-help books (instead of creating + working).
It’s so easy for us to convince ourselves that these things are worth spending our time on because they are important. They are worth spending time on! But they become a crutch when you start doing these things instead of selling.
A beautiful website will help your business grow. (A logo, however, is utterly unnecessary and I cannot believe how many entrepreneurs who haven’t even made their first $100 yet are obsessed with the fact that they can’t get clients until they pick the right font/shape/color/photo composition!)
Having an organized office will make you feel more confident and may increase productivity.
But it all comes down to sales.
That’s when you have to be confident and tell someone that your skills, strengths, and passions have made you the perfect person to deliver the exact result that this person is looking for.
That’s all it is. And it’s all you should be focusing on when you start your business. S-A-L-E-S. SALES.
Learn how to do sales. Invest in your sales education. It is the thing that will make you enough money so that you can do everything else.
To do it any other way is just procrastination. This sales stuff is the bottleneck of your business and will come back to bite you in the ass. 100% guaranteed.
Alright, dearest entrepreneur: Go forth and conquer! The world is your oyster, or something.