It’s hard to believe that this past January Shades of Pinck turned SEVEN years old. Feels like just yesterday I was stuck at home, with cabin fever during a snowstorm, when I mustered up the courage to finally start a blog. But Shades of Pinck, LLC won’t turn two until later this fall. That’s because it took me a really long time to not only value my content, and what I provided to companies, but also a long time to fully grasp the concept of what a non-traditional business could look like. I spent a lot of time “figuring things out“, and now that I look back on the journey of becoming a successful business owner, there are a lot of things I wish I knew. So as a lot of you graduate from college, or start thinking about changing careers and going into business for yourself, here are the 10 things I wish I knew before becoming a business owner:
- There is no right time to start and you’ll never be fully ready– One of the biggest regrets I have with my brand is not starting sooner. I had friends telling me back in 2011 to start a blog and I always pushed the idea away thinking I wasn’t ready or worthy enough of the audience. And even when I finally did start, it took me a long time to push the content out to people I knew. I didn’t feel like it was “ready” and in some ways, good enough. But what I’ve learned over the last seven years is there’s no right time to start something new and it’s never going to be perfect. You just have to dive in and learn as you go. I’m still learning how to make my brand better today. I read posts from last year that make cringe, but I know that just means with each step forward I’m growing + learning and becoming better. So whatever it is you’re wanting to do…just do it!
- Expensing things does not mean that you do not pay for them– I think there’s a misconception with business expenses that it means (in a way) you don’t really pay for those things and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The money is still withdrawn from you account– it’s gone. But what’s helpful is usually you don’t have to pay taxes on those expenses– i.e., those things you need to make your business run.
- You cannot do everything by yourself– For years, SoP was a one-man army! I did it all: pitched brands, wrote copy, brainstormed ideas, took photographs, edited photographs, managed my schedule, oversaw my bank accounts…EVERYTHING. And it was exhausting! Not only was it way too much for one person to do, it hindered me from growing my business because I was putting energy towards a ton of things which left little time for me to put energy towards the core of my business. While all of these tasks were important and needed to get done, having myself in charge of everything kept me in the same place for years. It wasn’t until I hired an assistant that I began to really see my business grow. Then I expanded my team with an accountant and a talent manager. Making the decision to let other people in seemed like such a hard one in the beginning, bc I wanted the control, but once I did I realized how necessary it was. They say it takes money to make money and no truer words have been spoken. Because while I’m definitely cutting my pie in more slices to compensate everyone that helps, my pie has tripled (if not quadrupled) from the help that everyone has given. So don’t be afraid to let other people in to help so that you can focus on the core of your busines.
- It’s necessary to create a space to be productive and creative– For the longest time I’d sit on my couch working on SoP, or I’d turn the dinner table into my desk (..just to have to clean everything up for dinner in the evening). On days that seemed fit, I’d go work at a coffee shop and even purchased a membership to a local business club where I could get things done. But that instability led to low productiveness, at least for me. It wasn’t until I created a space for myself that was decorated to inspire, organized to hold info on campaigns, and a gave me a place to escape to that I saw an increase in productivity. But it wasn’t all roses in the beginning. Though my space above our detached garage was always cute, there wasn’t always central heating and air. So in the summer’s I’d have large fans blowing, trying to move the stale air around, and in the winters I’d be surrounded by space heaters and under blankets trying to get stuff done. It may not have been glamours, but it gave me the freedom to take myself + my business seriously. So if you’re starting a business I highly recommend choosing a place in your home (no matter or big or how small) and turning it into a work haven. Give yourself a reason to be inspired and watch how your ideas + productivity grow!
- Start as a hobby and let it turn into a career– I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is expecting to turn their craft into their livelihood immediately. I can’t tell you how long SoP was just a hobby before it actually became a revenue source, and then how long it took that revenue source to actually become my income. I worked for years for free or for wayyy below my value just to get the experience; just to fine tune my craft. It definitely wasn’t ideal, but it gave me the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them before it really mattered. Build a portfolio of work while it’s still fun, before you have to rely on that work to pay your bills. And most importantly, don’t feel the need to rush the process. Sure that may mean your life consists of a 9-5 and then you come home and work on your passion from 5-9, but that work will pay off and one day you’ll look back and be surprised by how far you’ve gotten.
- You’re only as successful as your network is large– I am certain that the reason both SoP and I are successful is because of the network I’ve spent over a decade building. I learned from my early pageant years how crucial it is to have a strong network of people you can rely on for advice, for support and for encouragement. And how that group introduces you to their network and their network introduces you to their network and so on and so forth. While that’s extremely beneficial in blogging, it’s also important in nearly every field. The phrase “sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is so true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve landed deals because of someone I’ve met along the way. Sure, having the work to back it up is important, but it would have never happened if I didn’t know someone that knew someone. So remember to not only always leave a good impression, but to follow up with people so that they’ll remember you and what you do.
- Your work week will consist of way more than 40 hours– Right before SoP turned into an LLC I was working full-time at a marketing agency under the same job title I have now. I loved the team I worked with and the clients I worked, for but gawd I hated the box a 40 hour work week left you in. The year prior to that job I served as a freelancer, so while the pay wasn’t great, the freedom made it worth it. I remember sitting in the car every morning + evening during this job with the agency wishing I didn’t have to spend the next 8 hours sitting in a cubicle. But what no one told me was that going out on your own may give you that freedom, but it also requires many, many more hours of work. That’s because at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. So if there’s a deadline, you’re the only one responsible. And if a client isn’t happy, it’s you they’re expressing that to. I spend nearly 12 hours a day working and that’s just on weekdays. I’m in my office usually by 8/8:30am and it’s not unheard of me to be there until after 9pm. But then most of the time, I’ll still pop open my laptop from the couch or spend time editing pictures from my phone, or answering DMs on IG. I swear it never ends. Even days when I think I have very little to do, I’ll still end up being busy the entire day. So definitely don’t think working for yourself makes life easier, bc honestly it’s the complete opposite.
- Value yourself, or no one else will– For the longest time I’d minimize what it was I was accomplishing with my brand. It wasn’t that I wasn’t proud, I just think most people that I was around didn’t “get it” so it made me feel like it wasn’t worthy of praise or even to be talked about. And because I had that mindset, I let my work go for far below industry value. After I’d put in those years of perfecting my craft as a hobby and began to charge clients for work, I still lowballed myself thinking what I provided wasn’t worth much. It wasn’t until I stepped on the other side of things in that marketing job and paired influencers with businesses that I was able to recognize the true value it brought and why it was important. As soon as I started to see that value in myself everyone else began to recognize it too. Which, in turn, helped my business level up. So if you’ve put in the work of “practice” and have established yourself, don’t be afraid to value yourself as high as the industry will allow– because you are worth it and everyone will notice it too.
- Always give clients room to negotiate– Another big mistake early on was giving clients rates that didn’t offer room to negotiate. The truth was, they usually negotiated anyways and I found myself in contracts valued much lower than my work, but it was what I agreed to so I had to accept it. It wasn’t until I raised my rates that I started getting what I felt like I deserved…bc of course they would negotiate and I’d end up in a spot that I thought was fair. This doesn’t work if you’re providing tangible products to your audience, but if you’re offering some form of a service, increase your rates anywhere from 20-40% and be open to negotiate. If someone really wants to work with you they’ll find a way, and usually that’s by being up front and telling you what they can pay. But by establishing those higher rates you’re letting them know how much your work is valued.
- #GirlBoss may sound good on IG, but sometimes working for someone else really is the better option– This is something that I don’t think enough people talk about. We see entrepreneurs everywhere and in many ways culture tells us if we aren’t working for ourselves then we aren’t succeeding and I don’t think that could be further away from the truth. Not every talent or gift should be a business, but that doesn’t’ mean you shouldn’t share it with the world. I simply mean that running a business it hard work and sometimes having the opportunity to put the pressure or responsibility on someone else is a lot better than having to deal with it yourself. You can always have multiple streams of revenue, but relying on your talent as your sole income can be daunting especially those months when work just doesn’t flow as well. I know we have been beaten over the head with #girlboss on social media, but just know that you can be a #girlboss without owning your own business. To me, a girl boss is someone who gets things done, who accomplishes goals and is someone others can rely on when they need help!
Are you a small business owner? Tell me a little about your company + one thing you’ve learned since starting in the comments below!