I have been running my business for 12 years — that’s over a decade! I don’t know where the time has gone. But I have learned many do’s and don’ts over those years and have curated a list of my top tips and advice for entrepreneurs. Whether you are just starting your business or are a seasoned pro in need of some new direction, this post is for you!
Just as with many things in life, there’s no handbook for owning your own business.
There are however, general guidelines, plus tips and tricks from seasoned professionals who can steer you in the right direction.
Think of this post as a quick overview of the top 12 things I’ve learned in 12 years of owning a business.
My first piece of advice for entrepreneurs is also a general life lesson: Don’t burn a bridge.
The relationships you create are important, not just for building connections and a community now, but for your future success as well.
When you burn a bridge with someone, you burn the connection and any possible future relationship. Plus, you’ll never regret treating people with respect; the way you treat people is a huge part of your character (and also your personal brand).
You do not want to trap yourself into any particular course of action. Even if you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone, maintain a polite and professional relationship because you never know what the future holds (or the role they may play in it).
My second biggest piece of business advice is to hire a bookkeeper. I suggest you do this right away — as in day one of starting your business.
If you’ve been running a business for months or years and don’t have a bookkeeper yet, it is not too late to find one!
A bookkeeper is a great addition to your team because they will take the burden of finances off your plate. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy math and like keeping clean records, your priorities need to be elsewhere.
Allow the financial expert to do her job — your finances will thank you.
Open up and let your personality shine through your business. People are attracted to people they like. People are attracted to people they like, so let your audience know who you are.Share some BTS details or personal habits on social media. You will quickly gain trust and build rapport with your viewers.
Helping people get to know you is one of the best reasons to invest in brand photography. Read more about that here.
As you start to build relationships in your business, work on bringing other people together too.
“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.
Find me a find, catch me a catch…”
Being a matchmaker and connecting people is even more fun than getting clients for your own business. Being a matchmaker and connecting people with each other is even more fun than getting clients for your own business. And it always comes back later in spades. Everyone you connect will thank you for the connection, and respect you for helping them build important business relationships too.
What they say is true — there are plenty of people who need your service or product, and there’s no reason to stress about how many clients your competitor has or feel discouraged when clients choose someone else over you.
There is enough business for everyone.
So instead of fighting others to get to the top, encourage them, inspire them, and lift them up! Create a community that helps others and celebrate the comradery.
This relieves tension and worry and allows you to focus on your own success. Plus, I promise you’ll love it when your competitors become your friends! There are so many ways you can help each other out, and your business will thank you.
Continuing your education is important to staying in tune with the growth of your industry. It also provides a great opportunity for inspiration when you find yourself in a rut.
Make it a point to prioritize education once a year — enroll in online or in-person workshops, build relationships with people you admire, and practice new things.
Be conscious of how many new skills you are attempting to master at once. Learning multiple new skills can quickly become frustrating and overwhelming.
Focus on perfecting one new skill at a time.
I made it my goal for years to learn one new setting on my camera or one new photography skill every time I shot. For example, one day I would practice framing, and another, I would focus on understanding aperture.
This not only kept me growing and learning, but suddnely all the things I had to learn didn’t seem so daunting.
One of the greatest gifts to yourself is giving back to your community. What better way than to bestow your knowledge on someone younger or just starting their business?
When you are able to articulate what you know and teach others, it increases your mastery. Plus, you will build a relationship that lasts a lifetime, and you’ll have such joy in watching others grow!
Outsourcing is a big success secret for entrepreneurs. It’s it’s difficult to start start because you have to give up some control, but once you trust the decision, it makes your life a whole lot easier.
If something is difficult, tedious, and/or time-consuming, it’s time to outsource that task. Your time is worth a lot, so be mindful of how long you spend on certain things and don’t be afraid to pay someone you trust to do that job for you.
As you begin building your business, you’ll find that your product or service is not for everyone, just as every client is not for you. This can be true for so many reasons — price, niche, style, and availability, to name a few.
When you find you’re not a good fit for a potential client, or you’re unavailable on their date, that’s a great time to pass along the referral to another business person your trust and admire.
This is the beauty of creating those working relationships with your fellow entrepreneurs (Tip #5) — and you’ll make those relationships stronger when you send clients that person’s way!
There’s no shame in referring work to someone else. In fact, the complete opposite is true — it’s admired.
So if your client chooses to work with someone else, don’t take it personally — it wasn’t meant to be. And the silver lining is if your competition doesn’t take care of them, those clients will often come back to you.
Being consistent is so important in gaining trust from your prospective clients. They want to know that you can deliver the same results over and over again.
Forming good habits and establishing workflow systems allows you to offer that consistency day in and day out. And you’ll find that when you do the small things well, the big things will take care of themselves.
Keep in mind that building strong habits doens’t happen overnight. Running a business is not a destination but a journey.
Now that you’ve started your exciting new business, don’t let being an entrepreneur take away from being a good citizen. You will be busy and a bit overwhelmed at times, but make sure you keep a positive attitude — give a compliment, write a thank you note, and return phone calls.
While you need to run your business like a business, you also have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone you meet.
Being an entrepreneur has given me so many opportunities — opportunities to meet new people, build relationships that will last a lifetime, give back to my community, and grow as a person and a professional.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years, but each mistake has given me the chance to learn something new, then get b back up and move forward.
I wish someone had shared these 12 tips with me when I started my own business! That’s why I’m sharing them with you. Feel free to send me an email if you have any tips of your own — I love to hear from my fellow entrepreneurs!
And if you need additional inspiration or encouragement, be sure to check out a few of my other blog posts that can help you get started on the right foot.
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