8 things I wish I knew about running your own business when I quit my full-time job
Although I have always known that one day I will step out of the typical 9-5 job and will have something on my own, I didn’t have a plan. I was waiting for the right time to come. I admire those people who plan their way out for months or years. I was never a big planner. I usually go with the flow and most of my big decisions were made at the ‘that’s’ it!’ moments.
Back in 2016 when I quit my full-time job all I knew was that I do not want to work for someone else anymore. I had enough of reporting to a boss and coming to the office when I knew on that day there wasn’t much to do. Besides, as an introvert, I prefer to work in peace and quiet. Distractions like music from a radio station I don’t like or my colleagues being on the phone pretty much all day were slowly getting on my nerves and started affecting my productivity.
On the one hand, I wish I had a different start with my business. It was rather messy with no vision or clarity. But on the other hand, I learn best when things are hard. That’s just the way I am.
If I could start everything all over, here are the things I wish I knew when I started my own business:
You need to be committed
If you want to run your own business successfully, you will have to sacrifice some of the lifestyles you got used to. Half-assing will not get you far.
In the years 2016-2018, I was still in the phase when I liked to party. Party hard. I guess I had to take back these times when in my 20s I was still living with quite a controlling mother. But partying hard and building a business don’t go in hand. Drinking alcohol affects your ability to focus, to stay motivated and productive. You get easily pulled out when there’s a going-out opportunity.
To run a successful business you need to be committed. Be ready to make sacrifices and to say ‘no’ to Friday nights out. Or at least mid-week ones for start.
I do not regret my party times. I needed it back then. But today I run my business differently and it pays off. I drink very little to no alcohol because I know that the recovery time will take me longer than it’s necessary. I also know that saying ‘no’ to some things now will mean saying ‘yes’ more often to other things in the future.
Finding a mentor or a coach helps you stay focused and motivated
When you work full-time you have a boss who tells you what to do, sets up deadlines, and goals and make a regular evaluation of your work. In an ideal world, you can also go to him/her if you have a problem, ask for advice or share your concern. But when you enter into entrepreneurship, you are on your own.
I wish I had a mentor or coach from the start. Someone who would guide me in the right direction and help me clarify my ideas when I felt excited but overwhelmed. It took me a few years to finally hire a coach and I believe that if I had her from the first days of running my own business I would have set and attained my goals sooner. I would have been braver with putting myself out there and more confident about my skills, experience and expertise.
Fear of success is stronger than the fear of failure
Everyone is talking about the fear of failure and most gurus encourage you to accept failures if you want to succeed. It’s a great piece of advice but in my case, I was more afraid of succeeding. Not only did it feel out of my reach (who the hell am I?) but also I couldn’t imagine myself as someone successful. I was conditioned into believing I should stay small and in hiding because people would laugh at me (my mum’s words). Countless times I self-sabotaged my success (like abandoning a blog that started getting traction). And only today when I am aware of this behaviour I know how to spot it right away. I then can discuss it with my coach so she can help me stay on track and focused on the bigger picture.
Start creating content
Pretty much every single client who approached me to help them with their online presence started their business in the same way: by creating content. They were writing blogs or articles on platforms for writers. They were doing this with one goal in mind: to help others by sharing what they know and telling stories about how they overcame obstacles in life.
Creating content works for your business in a few ways: 1) it builds trust – people will see that you are an expert in your field and be more likely to sign up for your services or products. 2) It helps with SEO on your website – you will appear in search results organically if you have content on your website people are interested in reading. 3) It will help you gain clarity on what exactly you want to do in your business if at the beginning you feel a bit lost.
I wish I started my business from writing but I was too focused on discovering my niche. If I was starting today I would create content about my learnings as a beginner entrepreneur and document my progress with my audience.
Go for networking events as often as you can
I got my first paying client at the networking event. And that was over 6 months after I started to feel pretty desperate about being paid for my services. My main mistake was thinking that if I have only just started my business and had nothing to offer, why would I go to a networking event?
But networking is about meeting with like-minded entrepreneurs and business owners (because being your own boss can sometimes get lonely). It also gives you the opportunity to learn. Not only about yourself (like that I am a good listener and I don’t like prosecco), but about others as well (pretty much everyone shares the same fear: about putting yourself out there). Talking with people at these events helped me understand what are the struggles small business owners have and so I was able to create an offer that solves these problems.
Investing in yourself is an important part of the growth
After quitting my job the first thing I did was buying a laptop. I needed one so it was a justified purchase. But the next thing I should have done was invest in myself. I wish I bought a course about running a business, online marketing, and entrepreneur mindset. Because knowledge is power and by learning you might gain clarity about what to do next. I got a few books though. One was a guide on how to build a successful consulting practice. If I had a mentor I believe I would follow the advice from the book more seriously and by now had a successful consulting practice. But instead, I have a successful small business, so hey!
Keep your files and documents organised
This one is huge. I cannot stress enough how important having your files organised is. And I wish I was doing it from the very beginning. It would save me a ridiculous amount of time. Can you imagine how frustrating it is to search for a file you need but can’t find? I do now. And my clients do too! So it got me thinking that in the future, I might create a mini-course about keeping your files and folders organised. Meanwhile – give the files you download proper names so when you use the search bar you will find them easily.
Don’t listen to anybody – find your own way
I was reading a lot of books about running a business, sales and marketing, setting goals and more. I follow people who inspire me, I joined groups and communities for entrepreneurs, and attended workshops, seminars and networking events. I learnt a lot and heard a lot of good advice. I understand that everyone is different and there is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to running your own business. Don’t take each piece of advice too seriously, not even those given in this article! From everything you read, hear or see take what works for you and create something new that serves you.
I have never looked back on quitting my full-time job and starting my own business. With all the hard work and despite its drawback I think it’s the most fulfilling way of living. It gives me the freedom to live life on my terms, work with people I want to work with and most importantly it gives me endless possibilities to express my creativity.
Thank you for reading!
Simply Inspired Business Owner