Wednesday, June 28, 2017

12 lessons I learned after a full year of Entrepreneurship

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash
As of a few days ago, it has been a full year since I have launched into the land of self employment and entrepreneurship. It was (and is) a scary place to live, however when I say that there is no better place to grow and thrive than when you only have yourself, believe me!

I have learned probably more than I can fit in one blog over the course of this year. However, I will give you the short version here.

Here are the lessons I have learned over the past year of working for myself:

This is a real job, no matter what anyone else says:
And don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Just because there isn't a company or individual signing off on your paycheck doesn't make it any less of a real job.

Show up:
This is not a prolonged vacay. You may be working for yourself, but you need to be working for it to work. That means don't sleep in (too often). For this to work, you need to get your butt out of bed and to your work station. That being said...

Create a work space:
This is an area designated and designed to allow a steady flow of productivity. That means minimal distractions, and maximum inspiration. Just because you can work from your bed, doesn't mean that you should. Clear off that cluttered desk of yours, get a plant and some inspirational artwork, hang that vision board you've had since January, and get to work.

Identify what makes you unique:
This may seem like a no brainer, but a lot of people skip this step on their path to self employment. Be honest, there are dozens of people out there who do EXACTLY what you do. You have to find what makes you special, different, unique. Not only that, but you have to place high value on that thing. For me, it was a combination of my own particular writing style, customer service skills (a lost art if you ask me), social media background, and my style and fashion leanings. Find the unique vibe and skill combo you offer.

Identify your talents:
Another no brainer, but you need to do this in order to successfully run your business. And it doesn't happen once. If you are doing it correctly, you will be picking up new skills and talents over the course of your time. I learned some minor coding, photo editing, and took a few social media marketing courses over the past year. In addition to those new skills, I have added some experience to the foundational skill set that got me here in the first place. Keeping tabs on your talents will help you  more easily market yourself.

Get creative:
You must take those above talents and creatively think of how you can use them to bring in the bacon. I currently have I have my freelance writing that I do for different sites and publications. I have my social media consulting and management that I do for different brands and companies. I have my growing content creation for a few steady clients. And I have this blog, my social following that I use to help me become a micro influencer, and my own personal brand. Notice I haven't even mentioned my online course that I have edited since launch last summer (relaunching soon!) or The Reclaimed Vintage. The more creative you are with your business, the more opportunities you create for yourself to be successful.

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

Be willing to learn and grow:
View every obstacle and opportunity as a chance to grow. Remember above, I said I took some classes on social media marketing. These were offering through an up and coming fashion brand I offer my social media skills to.

Position yourself as an expert, but never call yourself one:
This one is HUGE! There are so many people out there in my industry alone who pose as industry leaders and experts, but when it comes down to it, they are nothing but glorified social media posters. Particularly for social media, which is a constant, ever growing, ever changing monster unto itself; saying you're an expert sets you up for failure. However, having great work, exceeding expectations, meeting deadlines early, all poise you to look like an expert. Constantly growing and applying what you've learned poises you to look like an expert. Doing a damn good job and letting your work and past clientele speak for you poise you to look like an expert.

Don't be afraid to ask for help:
If there is anything that is a pride killer, it is entrepreneurship. Face it, you don't know it all, and you won't ever, so ask for help whenever you need it. It shows humility, it creates and maintains relationships, and, once you get the help you need, will push you further.

Be realistic. Be positive:
I didn't expert to earn a million dollars this year. However I wasn't going into this first year feeling nothing but defeat. I frequently take "reality check" breaks to see how my business is doing. How are my clients doing? What can I improve on? Where do I need help? Where can I cut back? Where should I expand? What works? What didn't? Check in and get real, but continue to speak affirmation to your work.

Get a mentor:
I am so late on this train, but I cannot express my excitement and gratitude for the chance to be working with one of my industry's top writers. Seriously, God opened the door for us to meet and chat and begin a work mentor relationship and I have ALREADY reaped the benefits. Get yourself one, whether by following one of your top industry leaders on social media and literally binge read everything they write or take the step to reach out and ask for coaching. It is incredibly worth it.

Trust God:
For every lesson above, this is the undergird of them all. God gave you your vision, talents, gifting, and callings, don't you think that if He has given you all of these blessings, surely He has a plan of direction for them? If you feel Him moving you out into professional self reliance, take the step. For me, while it was and continues to be a scary place, it has also grown my faith and my trust and my believe in God as a sustainer, a way maker, a provider, a friend, and a Father, just to name a few of the ways that I have come to know Him better throughout this process. If He is leading you to something, entrepreneurship or any thing else, TRUST HIM and move.

These are the 12 ways that I have grown over this past year of entrepreneurship. I am not alone in this journey and have met so many wonderful women who have inspired and encouraged me whether directly or indirectly, along the way. And with that, we are entering a new series, called "Created by a Black Woman", featuring the growing community of dynamic and beautiful creatives that I am privileged to know.

Stay tuned!