Online business includes unicorns
If you've been in the online business space long enough to join some business Facebook groups or follow a few online business gurus you might just have come across a unicorn or two. Either that or you've seen it's distant cousin, the "crush-it" brigade. One kind of business guru waves a magical unicorn about a lot to entice you towards your entrepreneurial dreams and the other pushes you towards your goals with more of a rah-rah, go get em, crush your goals kinda mantra.
I don't love the "crush-it" mentality.
Can we get real for a moment?
I don't know when or why unicorns became the mascot for online business people with a soul but I just have to get out from under the glitter-covered unicorns and lift up the rainbows too while I'm at it.
If these unicorns are a metaphor for a fun business idea, then I get it, starting your own business is exciting and it can be really fun too, but let's remove the metaphors just for this post so we can have a peek at some reality.
The early "idea days" of your new thing is exciting and you sure as Fudge don’t wanna hear about the requirements for this job called "entrepreneur". That can be a bit of a downer for some people. Personally, I find an occasional reality check refreshing and inspiring instead of depressing. Even if it is scary, I think it's far less scary than wandering around in the dark doomed to fail because I can't get out from under my unicorn.
But I get it.
Unicorns and rainbows might be more fun, but reality checks can save your business.
So, before you climb back on that unicorn, let's plant our feet firmly on the ground for a sec, so we can make better decisions, evaluate our progress fairly and not lose our shizzle when our heads pop out of those rainbows covered in glitter.
5-Things Every New Entrepreneur Should Know
#1 It takes time to make a steady income that can support you
Since every business is different it's impossible to give you an exact time frame for the average amount of time it takes a business to turn a profit consistently, but a good consensus is 4-10 years. Yes. So it's best to have another source of income that can provide for you while you do this, and aim for creating something you actually like!
And of course for some, it’s longer and others it’s shorter, but it does not happen overnight and most don’t see enough profit within the first 3-years to live off of exclusively. This is from my small circle of entrepreneurial friends and my own experience but you can also check various estimates here and here.
If you need to have an income while your business is growing, it’s a great idea to keep your day job or have another source of income until your business can pay the bills.
The more time and freedom you can give yourself here the less stress you’ll have. Stress can really confuse your business decisions. It’s not a good place to operate from.
If you can avoid money stress -do it!
#2 You will need to sell - a lot
Owning your own business = selling.
Call it sharing or being visible or anything you like, but at the end of the day, this is still selling and marketing. And this takes more time than you likely realize. Marketing also needs to be consistent and it has to connect with the people who will spend money on your thing in order for it to work for you.
If you don't think you will be able to do this at all, you might want to reconsider your how you work for yourself. Partnering with someone who can sell might be a better option for you. Freelance work can also work if you position yourself well. No matter what it's good to get real about the selling part of owning your own business.
It's there, under the rainbows.
#3 You need a clear business idea and understanding of your niche
Before you can sell anything you have to be able to clearly define your thing so it’s easy to talk about it. You want to know who your thing is for so you know who to talk about it too. The better you understand your niche and audience or clients, the easier it is to sell your work. When this isn't clear -it's hard. Very hard.
Selling and marketing don't have to be icky, hard or too time-consuming. Time spent here on this step can make your marketing so much easier and help you get paid.
#4 What you focus on really matters
And please don't jump ahead of yourself! I know it's hard. It's really hard not to jump from thing to thing you see online because all the things online seem so darn important to the success of your business.
They're important to the success of other peoples businesses ;-)
This one is a biggie and can save you a world of pain. The online world is nothing if not completely distracting and often overwhelming. Jumping ahead can look like this:
- Burying yourself in DIY projects
- Taking endless courses and feeling like you always need to learn more before you can do the thing people will pay you for
- Spending lots of time setting up fancy tech and tools
- Creating too much too soon, before you've worked with customers or clients enough to know what they want and will buy
This can bring a business down before it has a chance to prove itself and it can do a number on your self-esteem. Focus on what your business needs, when it needs it and nothing more.
Know the stages of business and don’t jump ahead. If you're not sure what these stages are let's talk.
#5 Don’t remove yourself
If you’re a Duck be a proud Duck and create a business a Duck would love :)
Because, yeah, you can create a business you hate or one you aren’t very good at. This happens all the time.
Usually, it’s because you’ve missed some very important foundational steps in that business defining stage.
Know yourself. Love yourself. Be proud of exactly who you are and create something that you can thrive in, that takes advantage of your strengths and includes support for your weaknesses.
Entrepreneurship is a crash course in personal development. You've got an opportunity here to really get to know yourself. If you don't, your business will suffer and so will you.
Get real with yourself about your needs and goals and create something that's for your Ducky-Duckness. Don’t create a copy of someone else's business no matter how much of a crush you have on it. Your business needs to support you.
Entrepreneurship is an art and an opportunity
You face a lot of fears, have lots of opportunities to mainline growth, and you learn how much power you really have to choose your own path. It can be a path towards enlightenment if you want it to be, but that just might sound too unicorn-y so I’ll leave that to you to discover or not.
Obviously, I am a fan of entrepreneurship I just want you to know if it’s kicking your ass I think that’s what it’s supposed to do frankly, and if it’s not just be prepared for that. It will kick your ass and make you pee your pants.
But what in life doesn’t?
Online business and entrepreneurship are no different from any other big goal you might set for yourself. You have a far better chance at achieving success if you know what success means to you, appropriately set your expectations and take it one step at a time. You can evaluate your progress along the way, but keep circling back to these reality checks for your sanity.
It is, after all, up to you. You can have your unicorns and rainbows and a business that's successful without losing your shizzl-etts. I do believe this. Ya just have to focus on what you need to do for success.
Know yourself. Set your expectations and take things one step at a time. xox
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