I know that starting and growing a business is an astounding test of will, but despite all the bumps in the road it remains a roller coaster of passionate pursuit.
As I look back over the last year, I realize there are essential startup lessons that have helped me move forward as an entrepreneur.
1. Never be afraid to invest in yourself
Never be afraid to invest in yourself and your instincts. Over the last year, I spent about 2 hours daily on my Facebook News feed, scrolling through sponsored ads, tuning into webinars, and stalking my favorite Instagramer, but how did I know when it was time to pull out my wallet and invest in myself?
I hate to say this, but I’m going to: I never really knew when it was a good time to pay up. You see, the bottom line is that you may never be 100% sure when to invest in yourself, but you will learn something from every investment you make.
Always trust your instincts. There is never a guarantee. Sure. I made plenty of bad investments, but every single one of them paid huge dividends when it came to learning how not to do things.
2. Seek out a ‘no pressure’ mentor
In the second year of my business I learned how powerful and amazing a no pressure mentor truly can be. As a startup founder I had no money and I spent a fortune on training. I made every single mistake a new entrepreneur can (and will) make.
One year later I came across a coach that genuinely loved my business and really didn’t need money from me. We developed a friendship and built an amazingly supportive idea creation partnership in exchange for testimonials.
We mutually benefited from each other programs, tossed ideas around constantly, edited each other’s work, and motivated one another to push forward. Trust me. There are entrepreneurs out there who are willing to bounce ideas around with you and share knowledge.
3. Consider what you really want before looking for advice
I got advice from way too many people early on. I kept changing my mind constantly based on sporadic feedback. This approach made me very inconsistent, confused, and to be honest I was all over the map.
Over the course of my first year in business I was confused. I see many startups constantly change their brand, pitch, sales copy, website design, etc. And I know it’s mostly due to the fact that they are getting way to much outsider advice. It is absolutely okay to stop taking advice from people and do your own thing!
4. Believe in your business and brand first
It took me about 12 months before I truly figured out what I wanted to do with my business in the long-run. One day out of nowhere it dawned on me that my brand had nothing to do with my life’s work; this set me back at least a year.
I listened to way to many people and tried too many things before I realized that everyone’s advice was wrong and my brand reflected it. So, I stopped, closed down shop, stopped listening to other people, and took time to rebrand. Weeks later, suddenly everything started to flow correctly.
If you are in doubt about where to start, begin with your brand and consider what you actually want to do the rest of your life before you start blowing money.
5. Marketing should feel good
It was not until after I finished overhauling my branding that marketing began to feel natural and good. I had no idea marketing could feel powerful, enjoyable, and fun.
If your marketing doesn’t feel good, then something is wrong. During my first year of marketing nothing felt spot on and something bothered me about my offering. I could never put my finger on it, but it just didn’t feel right.
If you are feeling icky about marketing then it’s likely a sign that your brand and business aren’t aligned. Never feel pressured to continue as things are.
6. Embrace the awesomeness of social media advertising
For me, it is all about Instagram and Facebook ads. Let me be the first to say that I had no idea how powerful (and result yielding) Instagram and Facebook ads could actually be. I wish someone would have told me to stop wasting my time posting to Facebook Groups.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of social media advertising, stop what you’re doing and invest your time to learn more.
7. You don’t need testimonials to make money
I was so insecure about charging for my services during my first year of business so I low balled way too many consumers. This was a horrendous mistake that I do not want you to make.
I underpriced my services so frequently that people walked away from me, because they figured that since I was not charging enough I was not legit. You do not need testimonials to charge what you’re worth.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Jayme Marie Christensen is a U.S. Army Wounded Warrior turned Lifestyle Coach and Brand Marketing Mentor for women. Her mission is to help women receive results and use immense self-faith, conviction, and skills to overcome obstacles while becoming popular and profitable. Connect with @whoisjaymemarie on Twitter.
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