Too often in the personal development industry, you hear business and life coaches talk about how magical their first few years in business have been. It’s not uncommon to hear talk of making six figures in six months, attracting high-end clients, and designing an amazing life that is usually spent on the beach.
While all of these things are possible, hearing this can also feel alienating when you are trying your hardest and yet feel that you aren’t quite living up to that dream-like reality.
If you feel like something must be wrong with you because you’re not jetting off to Bali while simultaneously depositing fat checks into your company’s bank account, you’re not alone.
Everyone feels like this in the beginning. I’m going to lay it all on the table for you and tell you what not to do in your first year of business, so maybe you can avoid some of the common traps new entrepreneurs fall in and not get dismayed by the hype.
1. Don’t hire a coach that’s too far ahead of you.
You wouldn’t hire an English professor with a PhD to teach a group of kindergarteners how to write a sentence. Similarly, you don’t want to hire a coach who is so far ahead of you, in terms of experience, that they are disconnected from your current startup reality.
Even if they have gone through similar things, how are they going to relate to your beginner experiences when they’re so advanced they can’t even remember what it’s like to struggle?
Instead, hire a coach that is the fifth grade level to your first grade learning needs. This will help build a connection where both parties relate to each other with ease.
2. Don’t neglect your personal finances.
Avoiding the money stuff won’t make it go away. This was the hardest lesson I learned when starting my business. I wanted to grow my business quickly, so I bought courses and hired coaches who I thought would just tell me what to do to make it happen. I told myself I would make up the money soon, and so I didn’t keep track of my personal finances.
As a result, I got into $50,000 of debt without realizing it. Facing this was one of the scariest things I have ever had to do. I had to admit it and walk through the terrible shame and guilt I felt over potentially putting my family’s financial future at risk.
Be clear on what you need to make each month. Create a plan for how you are going to meet your revenue goals. Know your baseline and don’t go for big numbers right out of the gate.
3. Don’t make income your main goal.
Instead of focusing on the amount you want to make, develop a lifestyle goal and focus on that instead. When you focus on money, it’s easy to lose track of why you’re doing what you’re doing. By focusing on how you can serve your clients and how you can create fulfillment in your own life, the money will naturally come.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore your finances, but it does mean you should cultivate a healthy detachment to the “magic” number when you’re starting out.
4. Don’t spend money on marketing until you know …
Are you crystal clear on what you do and who you are serving? If not, spending money on marketing is a waste. While it’s important to have an online presence, a fancy website and Facebook ad just aren’t necessary in the early days. Your focus can change often, especially in your first year, so use marketing tools that are free until you’re clear on your target audience and message.
5. Don’t fall victim to the ‘shiny object syndrome’.
There are thousands of online courses out there that promise to help you attract clients, create an amazing brand and build a six-figure income. It’s easy to think you need them all, and then over-invest, become overwhelmed and forget to actually work toward your business goals.
Instead, decide where your focus needs to be for the next 90 days. If it includes taking a course to reach your goal, great. Research applicable courses and make an educated decision on which is the best for you right now. If not, don’t invest until you need to.
6. Don’t second guess yourself.
Learning from others is a great way to get your business started. But the best way to learn is from doing. You have what it takes to pull it off. The more you seek outside advice and guidance, the more you quiet your own inner voice that already knows what to do. Don’t second guess yourself. Clarity and confidence comes from taking action.
7. Don’t stop networking, even when your client roster is full.
If you’re all booked up with clients, it’s easy to think your work is done. But it’s not, because work with your current clients will eventually end. You’ll want to develop a pipeline of potential new clients. It can take a couple months to build rapport with someone who wants to hire you. Maintaining these relationships while you work with current clients will ensure you constantly have more clients and steady business.
8. Don’t hold it all together.
Vulnerability calls your tribe in, so share your story. The real one. Don’t create a glossy image of your life on social media so people will think you are more together than you actually are. It can be easy to hide the messy parts of your life but, more often than not,that mess is what helps you attract your tribe.
9. Don’t forget to walk your talk.
Whatever you are asking your clients to do, whatever you’re telling your audience they should be doing, you need to also be doing those things. If you’re not, you’re not being authentic, and you won’t inspire people to work with you.
What mistakes have you made in your first year of business?
This article has been edited and condensed.
Maru Iabichela is an international speaker and transformational coach helping entrepreneurs to tap into their authenticity in order to build happy and prosperous businesses and lives. She built her own success from the ground up after hitting rock bottom and learning that the only path to success is to be true to oneself. Her comeback has allowed her the privilege of coaching individuals from 17 countries (and growing), as well as the ability and freedom to travel wide and far to share her message. Grab Maru’s guide to 30 Ways to Create Massive Momentum and accelerate your own business growth at maruiabichela.com. Connect with @CoachMaru on Twitter.
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