Have you always believed that there was a greater purpose behind your passion?
Like you know it’s not just a hobby that sets your soul on fire… it is more than that.
So you’ve spent the last few months crafting, sewing, painting, writing, composing, researching, whatever you’ve been doing – all in pursuit of turning your passion into a profitable business.
Believe me, I’ve been there.
I worked from dawn till dusk every day because I was driven to make my dreams come true. Isn’t it everyone’s dreams to earn money while doing what you love?
And no matter how high our hopes are, we are not backing down because we know that this is what we’re supposed to be doing. This is how we want to live. This is how we want to be remembered…
For the last six years, I’ve learned a lot. And if you think it all went smoothly, you can never be more wrong.
Looking back now, there are things I wish i could have known sooner.
If you’re planning to start out your own business, this is for you, so you can hopefully avoid the same mistakes that I made..
7 Things I wish I knew Before Starting A Business
01. Don’t let other people’s opinions get in the way.
Who I am now is certainly not the same person I was six years ago.
I wasn’t this brave. I wasn’t this confident. I wasn’t this skilled.
One time when I was just starting out my career as a wedding planner (mind you, I was 18), I cried over one text message that told me I forgot to distribute the souvenirs to the principal sponsors among all the other things I failed to remember… and man, that sucks!
I locked myself up in my room. My parents wanted to comfort me, but they didn’t want to make such a big deal out of it so they just let me get over it alone instead.
In the first few years, I received a lot of criticism and bad reviews. If I’m being completely honest, I still do now.
I had pure intentions and all I wanted was to serve my clients better and exceed their expectations, but nope! That’s not how business works.
No matter how detail-oriented we think we are, there will always be teeny tiny bits that we will miss… especially if it’s our first time doing something.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but nothing beats experience..
Let’s just say my experiences compounded over time.
And what I didn’t know before, I already know now.
If I didn’t pull myself together back then and stood back up on my feet, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
So if people are telling you that you can’t do it, you’re not fit for this role, you should go back to your good ol’ job, or you’re too ambitious, go prove them wrong.
I’m not saying you should nudge off those criticisms, I’m saying you should use them for your own advantage. Learn from your mistakes, keep making mistakes you can learn from, and most importantly, learn to forgive yourself.
02. Don’t mistake activity for achievement.
Quoting John Wooden right here.
This was the hard pill that I had to swallow.
My board was loaded with to-do lists. My calendar was organized. Heck, even my schedule was color-coded.
I was pretty confident with what I’m doing… but my business was not growing.
“But Shiekina, how do we know that our business is growing?”
Well, first things first, you know when you are thriving (and not just surviving) as a business owner.
You’re challenging yourself to do new things every day.
If you’re feeling scared, that’s a good and healthy sign! Because that would mean you’re going out of your comfort zone.
Remember when Mark Twain said “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.”? That’s the truth bomb.
So, don’t hesitate to make mistakes at all!
Second is when there’s a strong demand for your products or services that you can barely keep up.
If new customers are flowing in and old customers keep on coming back, that’s an indication that you’re doing it right!
Having a system in place is barely an achievement. That’s just an activity.
Consider it as one of the stages in reaching your milestone.
But that milestone? That is the achievement.
03. Learn to divert your focus.
I know, I know… it sounds like the opposite of what we want.
You hear coaches saying to “focus” all the time, and that’s what you’ve been doing.
But now you’re feeling too overwhelmed like nothing’s working out the way you want to.
You’re not getting the results that you desire.
You did your best, but you guess your best was not good enough… *cue Quincy Jones lol*
Now you don’t feel too good to continue.
You’ve lost your hope. You’ve lost sight of your goal. You’ve lost your will to live… (just kidding, let’s not be too dramatic!)
That’s where I come right in (like the superwoman that I am!), with a band around my head saying “GO PLAY” in all caps.
You haven’t had any sales for the last few weeks? And now you can’t sleep, not because of your passion keeping you up at night, but because of the constant worry in your head that you’re not going to make it…
Believe me, you will make it.
I’m encouraging you to take some time off. To release your energy somewhere else. To play.
Because when you do come back, the fire within you will burn so bright it will be priceless.
04. Delegate and automate if you can!
Before, I was doing literally *everything*.
I’m a perfectionist so I can’t easily entrust tasks and responsibilities to other people. Do you feel me? I bet almost all business owners can relate!
I was taking up Accountancy so I did my bookkeeping.
I took all the pictures, contacted all the suppliers, checked all the deliveries – you name it, I did it!
But then I realized that time is the most precious thing on earth (as cliche as it may sound but it’s true)… and it flashed back to my dreams of having the freedom to live within my own means.
How can I do that if I’m working 80 hours a week? I could be earning millions of dollars, but if I’m doing everything on my own, how can I possibly realize that dream?
The time I spent on activities that didn’t spark joy in my life (like managing my website) can be used for something else that actually converts more. This is why I’m so glad Madhat Girls came up with Madhat Academy.
It’s not losing money. There’s a clear line between an expense and an investment.
Now I have an amazing team to help me work out my visions, and I only spend 3-5 hours a week on my computer. The rest I can spend with my family.
And I’m telling you now, it’s totally worth it.
05. Don’t hide behind your logo.
Branding is everything, yes. But the common misconception about branding is that it’s all about logos and color palettes and mood boards… wrong!
You are the face of your brand.
And as a Personal Branding Strategist, this is exactly what I teach my clients.
Aside from all things visual, there are also internal factors – like your mission, vision, and story among the others.
Your personal brand is abso-freakin-lutely important. It can make or break your career or your business, so make sure not to take it lightly. (https://shiekina.co/what-is-personal-branding/)
What I’m saying is that you need to constantly show up as a person, not some entity.
Tell your stories. How your products saved you. How your offers gave meaning to your life. How the quality of your services are different from the others because it is you and your experiences.
If you think about it, competition is a myth.
We all have our own stories that set us apart from other people. So if you think your market is overly saturated, think about how you can separate yourself from your industry.
People connect with people. They buy from people. So don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability, your fears and your insecurities. Because people will know if you’re being real, or you’re just trying to sell something.
06. Prepare to do things alone.
I tried to share my journey with my family and friends, but only a fellow business owner can relate..
The struggles, the rough roads, the issues that come with building your foundations. There are tons of them. And there will be more than a few times that you need to deal with these on your own.
You’re lucky if you have someone who understands what you do. Treasure that person, because you will need them in the long run.
My family supports my business. To be more accurate, they’re “okay” with it.
But there’s a big difference between supporting you and believing in you. And we have to learn to accept that.
After all, what’s important is that you believe in yourself.
07. There’s no such thing as perfect.
You can never be “so ready” for something… and this mindset will stop you from taking action now.
Ooh I know this soooo dang well.
I never took risks until I felt like everything was in place. Well, guess what? It will never be.
Then weeks, months and years go by and you realize that you still haven’t started. Why? Because you’re still *not ready*. Why? Because you will never feel ready.
So stop waiting for that perfect moment. It all works out in the end.
And if it doesn’t, then start again. At least you haven’t wasted your time sitting blankly, waiting for a miracle to happen. It’s like wishing you won the lottery when you haven’t even bought tickets.
You’ve learned a lot of new experiences and that’s a big win for you too.
So if you’re still hesitant right now, believe me – you are ready.
In fact, you were ready yesterday and the day before that.
So whatever it is you want to do, start doing it now. You’ll thank me later.
Hey there! I’m Shiekina. I’m a personal branding strategist at shiekina.co, and I help change-makers repurpose, refocus, and revolutionize their personal brands through effective content marketing strategies so they can become thought leaders in their niche.
I’m crazy about books and coffee, and I’m a lover of written words, classic songs, oxford commas, and starry nights.