My entrepreneur journey officially began in 2012 as a freelance photographer, but as most entrepreneurs would say, it’s in my blood. It wasn’t until 2015 that I decided to take the legal steps to form my first company, Penny Jarr Designs. The entrepreneur spark caught fire in 2016 when I officially launched the first version of SuperArtist HQ and DIYvinci. SuperArtist HQ eventually was shut down and I now own only DIYvinci and Penny Jarr Designs which has been renamed Penny Jarr Studio.
Everyone’s experiences with creating their own business are going to differ from mine. However, some of the lessons I’ve learned may just echo a resemblance of what you have been through or may be about to dive head-first into. Here is some of what I’ve learned since 2012.
Be prepared to do everything.
When I say everything, I mean everything. You’re going to need all of the skills you’ve learned so far in life as well as figure out how to master the ones you haven’t. You’ll need to know about marketing, customer service, accounting, social networking, your web presence, selling, branding, just to name a few. Feeling dizzy yet? Because I own a retail business I also needed to know inventory, shipping, packaging, wholesale buying, data entry, web security, payment systems, e-commerce, web development, and more. I think you get the picture.
Starting out by yourself means you can’t depend on anyone else to do it for you for free. Learn as much as you can, because you never know when it may become of use.
You can start your business without any money.
FALSE! Don’t believe this statement. Yes, you can begin to plan it without money, but in order to make money, you have to spend money. To begin with, you’ll need your business license and tax IDs. These aren’t free and if you want to operate your business legally, then you have to have them. You’ll also have to consider paying for website costs, a PO box, office equipment, accounting and tax collecting tools, marketing, and inventory. Startup costs are no joke. They exist and will haunt you throughout your first year of business and possibly longer.
I don’t say all this to kill dreams, but just to show you the reality behind money. If you’re becoming an entrepreneur because you plan on getting rich fast, then I suggest looking elsewhere. It’s going to take blood, sweat, and tears to build your dream before you can reap its benefits. This being said, I highly encourage you to get some amount of money behind you before making the full leap. You never know what you may encounter on your journey and in order to succeed and not fall into bankruptcy, you’ll need to be ready.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Plan, plan, plan, plan… Getting through your head yet? I know it took some time to get through mine. As an entrepreneur, I understand how ideas can flow so rapidly through your head and that you’ll want to act on all of them. This can be both a blessing and a curse. You may stumble upon an idea that could take off like wildfire, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and can cause you a great deal of time and money. It isn’t always possible to plan for every outcome, but you’ll need to start somewhere. Research everything possible about your idea and then test it. Is the idea flexible and can change with customer needs? Is it unique and useful? How do you plan on implementing this idea? Get your plan together and go make your goals happen!
Ask for help.
Earlier I said to be prepared to do everything yourself. This helps you to learn and also will save you money on startup costs. One thing to consider is growth. Eventually, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of everything that needs to be done. You also may come to realize that you just don’t have the time or desire to learn a particular skill. My advice for this is to hire freelancers. Have a solid understanding of what you want and search for someone who can accomplish your vision. It is completely okay to delegate when need be so you can focus on your main priority.
Be ready to stand alone.
Entrepre-what? Many people do not have a very good concept one what entrepreneurship really is. Some may think it’s boring, that you’re being lazy and don’t want to work in the real world, that you’re money hungry, or really could care less. I have even heard people say that they would love to be an entrepreneur so they could earn 200,000 by doing nothing. In fact, it is more likely you’ll have more comments and likes on a post about food on Facebook than you would on a post about your business. At first, it may seem like you have somewhat of a backing, but not so much as you get into the nitty gritty of it all. It is so easy to become bitter about this. However, you started this business and it’s going to be up to you to carry it through. Everyone else has their own dreams and their own life pulling their attention in various directions. If they truly care about you, they will come around and support you when they are able to.
The government is not your friend.
A lot of people believe because they start a business the government is going to be overjoyed about this and throw all kind of money and grants at you for your accomplishment. Sadly, this is rarely if ever the case. Especially if you live in a broke state like I do. You’re a lot more likely to win the lottery than having the government support you. They’ll be happy to fine you for operating without a license, for not paying your taxes on time, or for trying to write off your debt on your return though. Be sure to read all of your local laws on running a business and taxes so that you can cross your Ts and dot your Is. Running a business is difficult enough without getting into legal trouble.
Learn from others.
Don’t forget that you aren’t the only entrepreneur in the world! There are others like you trying to achieve their dreams who may have been through exactly what you’re currently going through. Take some time to search out social networking groups dedicated to entrepreneurship. Get involved and ask questions. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn.
My entrepreneur journey is far from over and I still have a lot to learn. What have you learned so far as a business owner?