Five Lessons Learned
By: Heather DeMonte, Co-Owner Klique Creative
Running your own business is never as easy as it looks. Entrepreneurs typically dive into their new ventures with the blazing passion of a mountaintop wizard and the dewey-eyed innocence of a newborn fawn. An overriding feeling of "I just CAN'T NOT" sets in and you're off! But all that magic has a dark side and the fact that you're trying to run before you even know how to walk can put you out of business as quickly as you got started. So keep these lessons in mind.
1. It's never easy. Just worth it.
Running your own business is NOT easy. Ever. There are many responsibilities you never had to worry about before - rent, utilities, payroll, insurance, invoicing, maintenance, budgeting, contracts...the list is endless and it's a not a very sexy list. So just remember when you're knee deep in the non-sexy stuff, it's worth it. It's why you started your business in the first place. You had a burning desire to put your unique stamp in the world in a way that fills you. Right down to your toes. It's something that's probably been niggling at you your whole life. It's the thing that when you finally do, you feel like you are standing on the mountaintop of your own life. And that mountaintop feeling, well, it's great! So don't get off the mountain because you'll just feel like climbing back up. You came this far. Keep going. It's worth it.
2. You're never ready for your most important moments. Do them anyway.
Chances are if you started your own business you are putting yourself out there. And when you put yourself out there, people react. That can be scary. Scary in a way that you now may want to jump off the mountaintop. For me, I have a fear of public speaking. A big fear. Like the kind of fear that makes me want to throw up. But starting my own business I found I was constantly being asked to speaking engagements, and press interviews, and presentations and new business pitches. I couldn't turn them down. For crying out loud hadn't I asked for all this?! Time to grow up. Doing it anyway brings opportunity. Even when you're not ready. Now whenever I get that faint vomit feeling I go to the mirror and tell myself, "Get out of the way." No vomiting today. Let's get to it.
3. Don't do it alone.
If you don't have a partner consider getting one. And choose wisely. Nothing is as fun alone or more rewarding than sharing it with someone who understands and can pick up or unload the burdens with you. I wouldn't be where I am without my partner. I would never want to climb a mountaintop alone. But along the way, remind each other to take breaks. You're going to need them (ask any mountain-climber).
4. Say no.
No is an absolute must in running your own business. You can't possibly take on every project that comes your way and you shouldn't. Interview your clients as much as they interview you. Ask yourself after a new client meeting, "Is this a no? or a yes?" And not from their perspective, from yours. You're going to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Is this a load you want to carry? Are you capable of carrying it? All the way to the mountaintop? Because your client is deserving of your best work and it's your job to get them there. Saying no is just another way of reserving your best yes.
5. Learn your value.
You need to get paid for your work. That sounds simple enough. But ladies, I'm talking to you. As women, especially women in the creative space, we have a tendency to devalue our skills. How do I know? Because I've been there and I still go there from time to time. I remember early on telling a colleague I was so excited about a project I would do it for free. Their reply, "Why for free?" Why indeed? What the heck was wrong with me? Can you imagine a man walking into a meeting and telling everyone he was there to do a job for free? Of course not. Learn your value. Find out what is industry standard for your services and charge for it. It's your job to educate your client on your value and it's their job to value you. If they don't, move on. The view from the mountaintop doesn't come cheap.