Start a Business for the Win, Part 2: A Beautiful Mixed Bag
By Eva Jannotta
This year I started Simply Put Strategies. I’m a few months in, and learning like there’s no tomorrow. Turns out it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s still pretty awesome.
Should I work for free? – There are other ways to work.
There are also other ways to work besides for money or nothing. I started my organizing business by working pro-bono in exchange for testimonials for my website and before and after pictures. I also barter: a graphic designer friend is designing my business cards in exchange for social media consulting. You could trade babysitting services, pet care, etc. Offering these deals eases pressure on your spending, establishes mutually beneficial relationships, and gives you experience.
Learn everything but don’t do everything – With the Internet, there is no end to the things you can learn to optimize your success.
You do not need a business degree to start a business. The Internet abounds with resources for everything, which means you basically have no excuse! You can learn to be your own bookkeeper, market yourself, design your own graphics, advertise, ramp up social media, and so on. Of course, doing everything yourself is not necessarily a good investment. If someone else can do it faster and with expertise, it’s worth outsourcing. Weigh if it’s cost effective for you to do, or trade with/hire someone else.
Everyone and their uncle warned me that starting a business is hard. It got old: I knew it would be hard and I like working hard! But it has been challenging in ways I didn’t expect: I didn’t expect the loneliness I feel by spending so much time alone. I didn’t anticipate how easy it would be to get distracted. I hadn’t considered how long some decisions take to make.
Before I started my business, I imagined leaping out of bed every morning and producing badassity until dusk. But sometimes I hit snooze, plant flowers all day, or schedule Skype dates during “business” hours.
When you’re doing your own thing there are no boundaries unless you set them. This is a blessing and a curse: you can work wherever and whenever, which is freeing and invigorating. However, this means that at any given time you may feel like you should be working. Since “working” and “not working” look the same now (they can both be done on your couch or in a cafe) you must consciously designate time not to work.
I put off sharing my business with my network. I worried that sending an email blast to my extended family would be awkwardly self congratulatory. I explained this to my aunt and she said, “you’re going to have to get over that.” She was right.
Part of your unique contribution to a business is your network. You have no idea who wants your services/product or knows someone who does. Take advantage of that as soon as you can – it’s all about people.
Starting a business is a great time to expand your network. If the thought of wearing a blazer and schmoozing grosses you out, think again. Networking isn’t about meeting as many people as possible to use them for your career. Networking is about investing in your community. Putting down roots by meeting people, joining organizations, and learning about your area makes you feel grounded and connected. It has two benefits: it’s good for you as a person, and it’s good for business.
Eva Jannotta is a professional organizer, social media consultant, and the founder of Simply Put Strategies.