Do what I love
Be my own boss
Live the dream
Ask any business owner why they left the corporate world and this is what they'll tell you.
They wanted to leave the shackles of working a 9-5 job and focus on something that gives them as much as they give to it.
And it's exactly how Razwana Wahid, founder of Relentless Movement (a copywriting service for providers who want to write bold and sell big) felt when she left her corporate gig in early 2015.
Starry-eyed with a head full of dreams, Razwana started on her entrepreneurial journey with expectations of how this new life would be:
Only it wasn't quite the reality.
Razwana ended up working more hours than she had in her corporate gig, was trying many new things only to see them fail, and was seeing her bank balance dwindle with every passing week.
So she spoke to other business owners to see if they could relate.
As Razwana started to scratch beneath the surface, she saw that other business owners felt the same way.
In fact, they seemed to share several key mistakes that were hindering their business–and that are all too common among entrepreneurs.
1. Expecting success too soon
No matter the foundations you start off with, nothing ever goes to plan. And expecting your business to be an overnight success is tempting disappointment on a grand scale.
While success in business may take months rather than years, it helps to keep a monthly log of everything you tried, what worked and what didn't.
At least then, when you assess your progress in six month, you have a clear idea of exactly where you've been.
2. Constant competition comparison
Keeping one eye on your competitors is smart for deciding how you'll differentiate yourself and stand out in a crowded market.
However, this becomes toxic when all you do is compare yourself to them, especially if you feel dejected when you read their success stories (and yours don't follow a similar path).
Alleviate this by cutting off comparison altogether. Unsubscribe from their email lists, stop following them on social media and block updates from the Facebook groups you're part of that seem to scream about success stories all the time.
This means you decide when you want to update yourself on their progress, rather than having the information pushed in your face all day.
3. Ignoring the stats
Measuring statistics isn't something that's reserved for those making more than six figure incomes.
Even if you have a small email list and aren't hitting your monthly income goals, measuring what works and what doesn't is a strong way to start as you mean to go on.
Look at email open rates for different subject lines, identify which activities get the most traffic or make the most money, and keep a monthly log of them.
Then plan to do more of those activities to build your business.
4. Getting too social
Social media is expertly tailored to speak to one of the most basic of human needs--connection. This is why so many people spend so much time browsing their Twitter feed, scouring Facebook or double-tapping Instagram.
And most business owners assume time on social media is time well spent.
The truth is, while social media does help build your brand, it's an investment for the long term. Currently, if the time you spend on social media sites doesn't bring a return, then your time isn't an investment–it's a waste.
To help structure your day better, spend an hour on social media in total, and stick to those sites where your customers are more likely to be.
5. Suffering from “shiny object syndrome”
Shiny object syndrome for online entrepreneurs is centered on buying courses.
With a shiny, new course being released by your favorite teacher, it's easy to get sucked in and assume it will have the golden bullet to skyrocket your business (especially when the sales copy is convincing).
To decide if it does, take a look at your previous 12 month purchase history and see what courses or tools you've purchased. How many of them have genuinely moved your business forward? How many of them have helped you achieve your goals?
I'm guessing not many.
Remedy this by either setting yourself an income goal, after which you can buy something else, or take a 12 month purchasing fast. Then focus your energy on using the courses and tools you already have to meet your goals (before you go on a buying spree again).
6. Working alone
Working from home, especially after you spent years working in a busy office, can be the most difficult adjustment to make as a new business owner.
The silence in the room, the lack of water-cooler conversation, the voices in your head ... they all add up.
While you may not replace old colleagues with new ones, you can explore where you live for viable co-working spaces and caf's to work from a few times a week.
Take this a step further and ask friends who they know that's also a solo-preneur. Then make plans to meet with these people weekly so you can co-work together.
7. Operating in constant freelance mode
When you're a service provider and first start out, it's easy to get sucked into the 1-1 client relationships and still exchanging time for money.
Although this can be fruitful when landing a client that pays higher fees, it can limit financial and creative growth if working with clients is all you do.
Be brave and take half a day a week (or every fortnight if weekly is too much of a stretch) to think of the bigger picture.
How can you turn your services into a revenue-generating product? What joint venture opportunities can you identify? Can you create a course or write a book that teaches your expertise?
We've all been there--stuck in our own heads and wondering when the day will come when business becomes ... fun. Know that it may take longer than you planned, and the course of events will change more than you care to admit, but keep at it and you'll be one step closer to living the dream.
Over to you: Were you once a newbie entrepreneur? What advice do you have for those that are just starting out? I’d love to find out more. Comment below!