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Eight pieces of advice I’d give my one-year-ago self about starting a business and blog

Eight pieces of advice I’d give my one-year-ago self about starting a business and blog

Hedera is one year old today!

So much has happened in a year. I’ve worked with amazing clients, met incredible people, pushed myself harder than I thought I could, published a book (!), and learned a lot.

And although I’ve loved the past year, if I could travel in time, I would sit my one-year-ago self down and have a stern conversation with her. Here’s what I’d tell her.

@@Starting a business or blog? Read this.@@


1. Stick to your guns

One of my biggest regrets in building my business is that I often didn’t trust myself when I was first starting out. And because I didn’t trust myself, I didn’t stick to my guns. Because I didn’t stick to my guns, I ended up doing a lot of work that I shouldn’t have done—I didn’t want to do it, and I wasn’t all that good at it. I took advice from several people who didn’t really understand my business and didn’t have my best interests at heart. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, this would be it: Stick to your guns. Keep it simple, only do what you are confident in, and do what you want to do—because not doing that never works out in the long run.

I think I also took on this not-so-right work for the money, and that was another problem. And that leads nicely onto my next point…

@@Starting a business or blog? Stick to your guns.@@


2. Stop worrying about money so much

Seriously! I’ve never been a money-centric person, so I don’t know why I suddenly decided that I had to build my business from zero to six figures in a week (slight exaggeration, but still). I was so stressed about making enough money and building the business financially that I made decisions that weren’t in the best interests of the business (or myself) for the long term—and that wasn’t smart.

I think the other element of worrying about money was that I struggled so much with talking about money with my clients, and with charging my clients enough. I still struggle with it, and I think it’s something you can only really learn through practice if you’re uncomfortable with it. However, I do wish I had just been a little less precious about it. No one’s doing you a favour by hiring you—they need what you offer. You’re doing something for them and, in exchange, they’re paying you for your time. Stop stressing.


3. It’ll all work out—trust the universe

As much as I’m not usually a woo-woo sort of person, for me one of the most life-changing aspects of running a business has been learning that things really do work out in the end—I like to think of this as ‘the universe’ providing what I need, when I need it (especially if I think to ask for it).


4. Start saying ‘no’—right now!

This year, I’ve had some difficult decisions to make. I split from my business partner; I turned down clients and opportunities that weren’t right for me. I’ve never been good at saying ‘no’, particularly when that ‘no’ might make someone unhappy. But pretty early on I realised that saying ‘yes’ to everything—especially when I really wanted to say ‘no’—was getting me into sticky situations (frequently!). So I gave myself permission to say ‘no’. It’s still not easy, but it’s not as hard as it used to be.

@@Starting a business or blog? Start saying 'no'.@@


5. Trust your gut

The main reason I didn’t start saying ‘no’ immediately to opportunities I knew weren’t right for me? I didn’t trust my gut. I didn’t trust that the icky feeling in my stomach was telling me something. I worked with people even when I got a bad vibe from them; I said ‘yes’ even though my gut was telling me ‘no’.

@@Starting a business or blog? Trust your gut.@@


6. Stop wasting time on the stupid stuff

I still have to tell myself this daily as I catch myself scrolling through Facebook for the millionth time or fiddling away on some tiny little chore that doesn’t matter.

When you’re in business, there are so many things you can be doing—and it doesn’t make sense to spend time on stuff that’s not going to contribute. For example, I spent so long at the start of my business fiddling with the first WordPress website, which drove me bonkers. I wasted hundreds of hours trying to make WordPress bend to my will. And you know what I did in the end? Switched to Squarespace. I found a solution that may have cost a bit more (dollar-wise), but saved me so much time, energy, and frustration.

Don’t waste your time. Do stuff that matters.


7. Focus your service offerings

When I first started my business, I thought I’d make more money (see point 2) if I offered all of my skills as services. I started out offering writing, editing, publishing, design, website building, social media marketing and management, branding, and a lot of other stuff.

… Reading all that back, I want to shake myself. Like, what? What was I doing?

It was crazy. I don’t want to be a website designer. I don’t want to be a branding specialist. I definitely don’t want to be a VA. I want to write and edit! And just because I could do all of those things didn’t mean I should have offered them as services.

Now that I’ve limited my offerings, I’m much happier, and I feel much clearer about my business and its direction.


8. Get started—this is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make

I started my business because I was unhappy with my life, and I knew I needed to make a change.

I had quit a traumatising, breakdown-inducing job a year and a half earlier, and had spent a whole year looking for a new job—with no success. At all. I had started my Master’s, but as someone who loves work, I was missing it deeply. I knew I couldn’t be happy unless I was working, but nobody would give me the opportunity.

So, I took matters into my own hands and started my business—and I’ve never regretted it (quite a feat for someone who second-guesses everything). Sure—it’s been difficult. I’ve felt like shit some days. I’ve cried. I’ve lost sleep worrying. I’ve had weeks where I’ve made $0 and stressed about whether I’d ever make it.

In spite of all that, though, it’s been the most enjoyable and interesting time of my life. I love, love, love what I do, and I know that it’s only going to get better as I keep learning and growing.

@@Eight pieces of advice I'd give my one-year-ago self about starting a business & blog.@@

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