Everyone knows that the first year of business is usually the hardest. It’s a learning curve, and for many first-time entrepreneurs, it doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read or online courses you’ve taken. Year one is going to be trial-by-fire to get your dream off the ground, with plenty of room for mistakes and unforeseen expenses.
But you’re smart and savvy, so you’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. And with a little help from a Network of fellow entrepreneurs who have been-there-done-that and are ready to support you, you can avoid these three common mistakes, and maybe make that first year a little easier.
Mistake #1: Working with someone who’s too much like you.
Believe it or not, two of you is not better than one. You’ve probably heard plenty of entrepreneurs say that they wish they could clone themselves or hire someone who was just like them.
It sounds great in theory right? Twice the amount of work done in half the time. But in reality, aligning yourself with a business partner who has the same strengths as you can backfire, like it did for BRA Founder, Carrie Murray.
“We got nothing done that was truly effective. It was like we had two yangs and no yin.”
Instead, work with people who have skill sets different from your own. Your strengths will complement each other and you’ll knock out those to-do lists in record time.
Not sure what your strengths are? Carrie recommends taking the Strengths-Based Leadership Test to help you identify your strengths in business and who you should be working with.
Mistake #2: Ordering swag WAY too early.
Unless your company is a t-shirt or clothing line, ordering swag too early can make you look ridiculous.
It’s great to be pumped about your business (as you should be!) but maybe hold off on the logo stickers, t-shirts, and hats until later when you’ve established a solid customer base that would be proud to rock your swag.
Waiting until you have customers also means waiting until you have money coming in to offset any money going out on swag. Trust us – in your first year of business, there are plenty of other more effective ways to spend every dollar than mouse pads and coffee mugs with your face plastered on them. Remember: Ordering swag should never put you in the red.
Mistake #3: Thinking that if you build it, followers will come.
A positive attitude is essential to starting a new business. It’s what will keep you persevering through the ups and downs of that roller coaster first year. But just because you have a website and social media handles ready to go, doesn’t mean you will hit 1,000 followers in your first week.
It takes work. A LOT of work.
Setting up your online presence is only step one. You should be proud of yourself for taking that step, but remember that you have a lot more time and effort to invest to get those numbers up. Go in with realistic expectations and a commitment to slow and steady growth.
Tip #1: Girl, you gotta hustle!
How hungry are you? How hard are you really willing to work?
New businesses, on average, don’t turn a profit until years 4-7. Find creative ways to find an edge and to get ahead.
Collaborate, look for free webinars, trade services with other female entrepreneurs, and find offerings that are already available for free.
Remember a tight budget brews creativity.
Tip #2: Build your support system
Find your people.
Surround yourself with three important friends: the cheerleader, the mirror and the dreamer.
The CHEERLEADER is the most important because they will be in your corner every step of the way, cheering you on with unwavering support. The cheerleader is usually the person you tell new ideas to first.
The MIRROR is extremely valuable. With their steadfast loyalty, they show you the face of reality even when it’s yucky but will never pass judgement on your dream.
Last, the DREAMER. They probably know you the best. The dreamer inspires new ideas, challenges you to look at things from a different perspective and are great problem solvers and strategists.
The people who fill these roles today won’t necessarily be the same people in three years and that’s okay! Life happens, people change, and so will your needs, so be flexible!
Enjoyed this post? Check out How to Build a Strong Brand as a Female Entrepreneur next!