18 months ago I became an entrepreneur by founding women's empowerment and mindset coaching company, the SEASALT plan, and started to make plans to leave my decade-long marketing career. They say the journey to being a successful entrepreneur is a bumpy, yet worth it, one. Reflecting on the past 18 months, here are some of the lessons I've learned on the road to success.
Things I would have done differently
- Focus on building an engaged audience rather than making lots of money
I had watched so many webinars about £50k launches and £10k coaching packages. I listened to so many influencers tell me to have a millionaire mindset and know my worth. I thought I could build my website, create a package, do some Facebook ads and start charging £5k for a coaching package with me. Reality check; it really doesn’t work like that! Well, maybe for 0.02% of entrepreneurs.
I don’t want to rain on your parade, but if I had my time again I wouldn't try and sell anything for a year and take that time to focus on building an audience. I would make sure I truly understood my niche, figure out the best platform for that target market and just deliver value and content for 12 months enabling to establish your brand and build trust.
2. Not hired an accountant
I had launched my company the week before and decided I was now a fully fledged female entrepreneur and needed an accountant; even though my business wasn’t bringing in any money. Big mistake! It felt like I was taking the whole entrepreneur thing so seriously by doing, but actually, I was being unrealistic and had to let him go after a few months of paying a monthly fee for pretty much nothing. How would I do it differently? Get advice off a free, local business centre and hire a bookkeeper to support you with taxes etc.
3. Kept a stable income for longer
In December 2017 I decided to leave London (and my £48k marketing job) to move back to my hometown and focus on my business full-time. I thought things would just work out, you know. I worked hard and manifested constantly, so it had too, even though my money was making little money at this point. Risky! In an ideal world, I would have had a few thousand in my savings account or a guaranteed money stream that would cover my basics – but I didn’t. This had a huge effect on my energy and mental wellness and in turn my business.
In hindsight, now I know what I know, I really needed to work on my money mindset during 2017. Along with my relationship with money during so I would have made better-informed choices. So many women have poor money mindsets and just don't realise it (I didn't). It has such a knock on effect in other areas of life. I recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas books for this or take a look at my 31 day making money your friend course.
4. Create content over consuming it
I cannot tell you how many days I have spent reading business books, listening to business podcasts, watching endless webinars (no, I don’t want to buy your $2k course at the end!). Covering all subjects from understanding Pinterest, to growing your list, to Instagram algorithms, to the perfect copy for your sales page. I have learned something from all of them but I definitely consumed way too much when my primary aim was to grow a community with the goal of eventually monetizing. It is difficult when you are growing yourself not to latch on to every opportunity to learn something new but just be aware of what you consume and create balance.
5. Stop looking at social media numbers and surrender
Daily I would check my Instagram following. OK, like 8 times a day. And as soon as I stopped bothering, put out less content and upp’ed my engagement just a little…it just naturally grew. It is difficult when we live in a world of manifestation and goals (5k followers by 31 December 2018!), but you need to know how to use your own judgement and intuition as when to apply that and when to allow things to be what they will be. If your content is authentic and connecting with your target audience then your following will organically flow to you.
Things I would not have done differently
- Flowed with evolution
My business doesn’t really look anything like it did when I launched nearly a year ago. The logo, the branding, the messaging – all different. I have changed my tagline about 10 times. I've done a complete overhaul on my website. I have adapted and changed when it was needed. I have learned from mistakes or from others and moved forward. I have failed and learned. Do not be scared to move away from the original plan, just focus on moving forward.
2. Focused on one channel
We all have a preferred social media channel and mine is Instagram. When you are working a 9-5 and trying to grow your business; focus on one channel and do it well. There will be plenty of time when you have more experience/ a VA/ growth strategies to do multiple-channels. I am glad that for the first 12 months I purely focused on the channel where my audience is and that I personally enjoy working with. It meant that my content wasn't forced and I didn't see daily posting as a chore.
3. Have a millionaire mindset (but get to grips with my own mindset first)
The ultimate aim of being an entrepreneur is to be a millionaire, right? Not because you are greedy. But because you desire a nice life and the opportunity to give back to the world. I am lucky that I have never let anything stop me from believing I can be a millionaire. Even though I am from humble beginnings. However, the more I have delved into the world of self-development and manifestation, realised I would until recently have been a rubbish millionaire. My money mindset wasn't in the best shape and so if I made that amount of money, I wouldn't have been able to manage it correctly. I now know that when my success brings big money I have an internal strategy of managing it correctly, but the aspirations I had from the start accelerated me to where I am today.
4. Followed my heart
I remember looking for new jobs in December 2016. After several hours of scrolling, I realised not one job I had seen was the ‘perfect’ role. That is when the spark in my head happened that I would have to create my own role. I didn’t know what that looked like back then but within 9 months I had founded and launched my business and within 12 months of that moment, I had made the move to work on it full-time (see Kept stable income for longer for the downside of this).
If I had let my head get in the way I would still be working in an unfulfilling role, paying overpriced rent in London and spending the rest of my money on anything to make me feel happy, when inside I really wasn’t. I don’t regret a thing, but note, following your heart is one of the most difficult routes you can choose. It’s unpredictable, bumpy and sometimes painful. But it is also ridiculously beautiful, rewarding and the best way to learn who you truly are inside.
5. Do what you need to make it work
8 months ago I left my beautiful flat and job in London to move back to my hometown in the North of England. I needed extra funds whilst building my business so temped for £8 per hour before freelance marketing jobs came through at more worthy rates. I sacrificed dinners out, clothes, cocktails, events with friends so my basic income could cover the essentials in my personal and business life. People didn’t get it and thought I was mad. Like when I would work a 8 hour day and then spend 3 hours each evening building my business. But you have to do what you have to do to make it work and if it's your passion, it doesn't really feel like work. It hasn’t been easy – otherwise everyone would be an entrepreneur – but I know what is waiting for me at the end of this bumpy ride – my dream life.
Are you ready to go and get your dream life?
Verity Brown is a freelance marketer and founder of the SEASALT (Stop Existing And Start Actually Living Today) plan. A women's empowerment and mindset coach, she helps women remove mental blocks that may be stopping them from living a life true to them, with a content heart.