My name is Bethany Michaels, owner of Content Social Media Queen – a local marketing business in Orange County, CA. Before CEO status, I was working as a freelancer with a little bit more hair and a lot less stress. But to be honest, I wouldn’t exchange the insight I’ve gained owning my own business for anything. It has given me a purpose that fuels me to wake up with excitement each morning — not because of what I do, but WHY I do it. Although a “how-to business manual” would have been advantageous before launching into ownership, I’ve actually learned to appreciate the cold, hard climb along the way. Now, when I experience on-top-of-the-mountain moments, the view is that much more enjoyable because of the nitty gritty I endured to get there.
“I wouldn’t exchange the insight I’ve gained owning my own business for anything.”
But, if I could save someone just some of the heartache that comes with the territory of business ownership, I would happily do so — which is why I’m here today. Please read on to learn about the Top 10 Things I wish I had known before embarking on the journey of owning a business. I even took the liberty to ask several colleagues of mine for their valued input to make this information even more well-rounded. I hope you’ll learn something by the end!
THE TOP 10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING MY BUSINESS
1. How royally effed-up my schedule would be
Look, it’s really not that bad. To be honest I’ve never been a nine-to-fiver. Which is why some may call my schedule messed up, but for me, it’s perfect. I LOVE having days that are never the same. It fits my impulsive personality. I will say — the important thing is to still develop a routine within the odd hours that may fluctuate day to day. Every morning, I wake up and take a brisk walk for at least 15 minutes. I always have my favorite coffee, and then I sit down and the first thing I do is answer my emails. So whether I have a 3 hour day, or 13 hour day — I still have tasks and priorities that keep me grounded and give me a rhythm to march to.
2. How many sweatpants I would invest in
This has become especially more prominent with the current pandemic. Thankfully I still have some nice tops I can wear to Zoom meetings, but believe me, I am not walking around with slacks on at home all day.
3. How important it is to vet your clients before saying “yes” (they can be crazy)
I’ve worked with some very interesting people over the years. I say to “vet” your clients because if you don’t, they might end up suing you. At least that’s what happened to me. Initially, I had an “off” feeling about her — my intuition told me that her level of expectation was a little too demanding than what myself or my business could offer her. Eventually she ended up trying to sue me for something I didn’t do. Fortunately I won the case, but it was a huge wakeup call to protect myself and my business going forward. I refined my contract to state that I can work with anyone who I damn well please, and I make sure to be very picky when taking on a new client. It’s important to feel safe, comfortable and happy with those you work with — especially the people who are hiring you for your services. It’s a mutual respect and understanding that should absolutely be demanded from both parties.
4. How terrible it feels to get sued for the first time
I think I already went off on a slight tangent about this one. But again, I want to reiterate how important it is to have your clients sign contracts. Do not offer services under the table. If you have a professional business, you need to treat it as a professional entity. Guard yourself and your assets by having an attorney look over your contract and making sure it’s the most up-to-date.
5. How crucial it is to have boundaries with your clients
6. How much you need to treat your business as an investment
7. How epic it is to work for yourself (I would have quit that stupid job sooner)
Some days are really hard. Like really, really hard. I’ve had days where I want to lock myself in my closet, cry for hours, and never come out. But within the last couple years of business it’s been more smooth sailing. I have the flexibility now to take time off and enjoy the ocean view on my lunch, or go grocery shopping in the middle of the day because I feel like it. This may not be every business owner’s experience — but it was the vision I had for myself. I wanted to set my business up in a way to give me the option to take more time off if necessary. I never wanted a physical office with employees — I wanted an online business with amazing contractors. I wanted to provide jobs for people while also giving them the same flexibility to enjoy life and not feel trapped in a stuffy office.
8. How no one will care for your business as much as you do
This is so very true. Which explains how important it is to find the right team to work for you. Although someone may not truly invest their entire heart and soul into your business — it’s imperative to find passionate people to fill job roles who want to grow and are aligned with your vision. I employed 3 women with college degrees in the beginning stages of my business, and they’ve stayed with me throughout the growing phases of Content Social Media Queen. It’s been 4 years now, and the same all-woman-team is still with me. I’m so grateful to have such a wonderful group of brilliant contractors helping me. Make sure when you interview candidates that you DO NOT HOLD BACK asking questions that are important to you and instrumental to creating a high functioning business.
9. How important it is to build the right team
To go into more detail, I discovered that I need to clearly identify certain job roles that either I’m not capable of doing or not willing to do in my business. For example, although I love writing blogs, I realized I no longer have the capacity to sit down and write them for my clients. Which is why I hired my very own expert blog writer for my business. I searched high and low for the right candidate. I made sure to select someone with SEO experience, a unique writing style, and someone who I would be absolutely proud of to introduce to my clients.
10. How necessary it is to create systems and workflow
I hired my business coach to help me pin down my processes. This is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS you’ll need to do to transition from “freelancer” to business owner. If you ever have the goal of growing, replicating your business like a franchise, or maybe even selling it — you need to be able to have something to sell. Which is why you need systems and documentations of how your business flows. Once I pinned down my onboarding system and took days (even months) to write out templates, I became so much more quick and efficient with my work. I always say — if you find yourself writing the same thing over and over, and doing something repetitively, you NEED TO TURN IT INTO A TEMPLATE that you can copy and paste. Or even delegate to someone else while you free yourself up to focus on more strategic projects within your business.
What is your biggest takeaway from these 10 major tips before starting a business? We’d love to hear from you below!
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