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I tend to notice that many people only show the best pieces of their lives and businesses. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, only showing success is an inaccurate depiction of running a business.
In the last four months of running my business full-time, I have made quite a few business mistakes. I have almost given up on my business twice.
As someone who tries to be transparent, I can’t tell you “Hey, I earned $1,500 last month!” without telling you what it took. I also can’t expect for you to be successful if I make you think that all you have to do is start a blog.
Now, I’m not sharing these with you to deter you from starting your own business. The last thing I want to do is scare off someone who wants to become an entrepreneur. I want you to see that if you believe in yourself, you’ll make it to the end.
Business Mistake #1: Apologizing When I Shouldn’t Have
This was one of the biggest business mistakes I made during the entire year of 2016. Not only did I apologize too much, I felt as if I should apologize for everything, even if I wasn’t to blame.
I am the type of person to apologize and let things slide so that I that I can keep people happy. I’ve realized that if I expect people to take me seriously, I can’t apologize for things that are out of my control, and I can’t apologize for other’s actions and mistakes.
A big example of this mistake was when I would apologize for not responding back to a client within the hour. I was used to being torn apart at my full-time job for not responding quickly enough. I felt that clients would be upset if I couldn’t be available 24/7. Finally, a client told me ” You don’t have to apologize to me, I know you have a life!” <— I am paraphrasing here, but you get the gist.
I had to catch myself from apologizing again, but in reality, I wanted to type ” I am so sorry, it won’t happen again!”. I gave her thanks, and with that, I made a plan to stop apologizing for every little thing.
An amazing tip that I have found to be beneficial is to replace my apologies with gratitude and problem-solving. Instead of apologizing, I say ” Thank you for being flexible with me”.
I apologize if needed, but I am a wife and mom first. There are things that can happen in a day that I can’t control. Showing my appreciation and taking charge helps me manage my business without feeling guilty and saying sorry all of the time.
Business Mistake #2: Taking Too Long To Jump
My oh my, when I jump I jump head first! But more often than not, I overthink and overanalyze every little decision that needs to be made in my business. When I started my business as a side hustle, I only spent $72.00 to get my website up and going. From January to November, I spent another $19 to buy a new theme. Besides these expenses, I didn’t put a dime into my business, and I made every effort to build it organically.
Through the entire year of 2016, I was miserable at my former job. My husband kept telling me to quit because he knew where my heart lied. I just wasn’t ready. When August rolled around, I was faced with a decision to increase my hours at work or leave.
With my family and side hustle to consider, I respectfully let my job know that I couldn’t afford to increase my hours anymore. They let me go, and I cried for a few hours. Here I had spent almost a year meticulously planning and saving so that I could quit in 2017.
To my surprise, I didn’t have to worry about losing my job. I was able to replace my income in three months, and all it took was a lot of hard work, dedication, and a little luck. Here I had been terrified to leave because of fear. But, I thrived on the pressure of making it all work.
Even after that incident, there were numerous of times where I didn’t jump into something that I should have. I had so many amazing opportunities come my way, and I lost them because I was too afraid to jump all in.
To remedy this in 2017, I plan on taking opportunities that align with my goals and dreams, even if I’m not sure they will be successful. Although I do believe in saying no and trying to keep a work-life balance, I also think it’s important to take the reign on possibilities that could change your life.
Business Mistake #3: Not Planning Ahead of Time
You would think that as an A-type person I would have my stuff together, right? Nope. Between taking care of my family, running and building my business, and of course my education and home, most of the time it takes everything in me not to lose my mind.
This is one of those business mistakes that can really hinder anything I do. If I don’t plan my days, I could easily spend my entire day working on a project that was only supposed to take half of a day.
Not only does this lose me money, but it also puts me behind schedule in other parts of my business. If I am constantly playing catch-up, I miss out on more than just a money making project. I miss the opportunity to connect and engage with others in my community and people who are using me as an inspiration to start their own business.
Once I figured out that I needed to gain control with planning my days better and managing my tasks, I decided to invest in a planner that would work best for me. I decided on a bullet journal, and it’s been such an incredible help. I’m able to track everything, from business tasks to personal.
Since I’ve used this journal, I am slowly turning my crazy life into a more balanced and thought out life. Talk about an easy solution!
Business Mistake #4: Not Having A Clear Contract In Place
I hate contracts. There I said it. I wish people didn’t have to have a contract. I want to think that people have good intentions, but sometimes that isn’t always the case. There were a few times where I was burned because I didn’t have a specified contract. For example, I would have clients calling me in the middle of the night. I had a client that thought they could talk to me for hours and not pay me for it. I had a client that thought I wrote articles for free because I “loved to do it” and they didn’t know it was part of my duties as a VA.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but sometimes I wish people would understand that freelancers aren’t…well…free. Freelancers are, in essence, business owners, and should be treated as such. I’ve met a lot of people that thought my rates were outrageous, and people that would ask me to do “just one little thing” for them without pay. When I first started, it bothered me to think that people couldn’t see past rates, so I found myself lowering my standards and pay to fit them. Now that I’ve done this for a while, I realize that I have to provide for my family too. A contract helps me have control over my business and make the money to support my family the way they deserve to be supported.
I never thought I would have to put in that I don’t want to be called at 2:00 am. Why would I have to add in that phone calls are billable time? I assumed that people understood this, but many don’t. Many people aren’t intentional about stiffing you. But, there are some cruel and heartless people out there who want to gain without giving. Now that my contract is detailed and has information to protect my client and me, I don’t have any worries on someone taking advantage of my work or me. I just wish I would have done that sooner!
Business Mistake #5: Slacking On My Blog
If you look at the posts I’ve published, you’ll notice that the dates are sporadic. If I were to show you my social media and blog statistics you would see huge jumps followed by stagnant lines. This business mistake was completely avoidable. I didn’t have a well thought out plan (see business mistake #3). I also didn’t have the motivation to keep up when things got hectic.
The issue I have with this business mistake is that I paid to start this blog. I put in a lot of research, effort, and a bit of money to get this thing up and running. Letting it fall by the wayside really bothers me, for the simple fact that I don’t like feeling like I’m being wasteful.
I took a break at the beginning of December to wrap up loose ends. I created so many different spreadsheets that would keep me organized.
Now that I have a plan, I don’t see this being an issue in 2017, but we will just have to see. With all of the projects that I busted my butt for (like my free ebook and resource library) I know I can’t let this blog be at the bottom of my to-do list anymore. I would rather sacrifice a completely clean home, and eat rice and beans instead of cooking an elaborate meal. That’s how much this blog truly means to me.
Biggest Business Success: Not Letting No’s Stop Me
After all of those business mistakes, you would think that I would just give up this little blog of mine. Well, I’m still here, and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. My determination has been the biggest business success of this year, and I am so incredibly proud of that.
I have been told no so many times in my life, and this year I made it a point to stop that. Even if I had to take a detour, I never gave up. I kept pushing and striving. Deep down, I knew that I could turn my side hustles and hobbies into a legitimate business if I kept working on them.
It can be hard to hear someone tell you no. I know how much it sucks when you put in your all, only to be turned down. I’m living proof that the whole world could be against you, and you can still rise to the top.
I made a lot of business mistakes in 2016, and I am sure I will make more in 2017. What I won’t do is make the same business mistakes twice, because that would be working backward, wouldn’t it? Now tell me, what business mistakes did you make in 2016?