Lessons from a year in business

January this year, various circumstances led me to open up shop again, 50% confident it would work this time and 50% terrified I would fail again. I’ll share a few things I have learned along the way to help any of you out there just starting a business.

photo-1450221882353-ed6177a2ff23Yes, I know almost everyone is either sharing on social media or blogging about ‘things they’ve learned’… but these are mine!

This year has been a massive learning curve, as I re-started a business that I had dabbled in a few years ago. January this year, various circumstances led me to open up shop again, 50% confident it would work this time and 50% terrified I would fail again.

By March I still only had one client, but then I found another client – one that grew and grew and built my confidence. LinkedIn found me two more clients, networking found me another two and referrals yet another two! Suddenly I was busy and juggling all this wonderful, creative, interesting work into the few short hours my kids were at school or day-care 3 days a week. Soon I was working late nights, yet feeling very happy. I had a couple of massive downers when I lost one client and another turned into the job from hell. I picked myself up and without too much effort actually found two more clients that have turned out to be much better in so many ways.

However, after a few months, the glow dimmed a little and although I still love my work and all my clients, I realised I needed to “work smarter, not harder”. Thanks for reading my story so far… I’ll share a few things I have learned along the way to help any of you out there just starting a business.

Time tracking is more important than I thought

Honestly, I was adding up minutes and hours in my head or adding them up on paper. Once I installed Toggle on my computer and started tracking billable time as well as all the unpaid stuff (admin, marketing, networking, spending longer on a task than I had quoted for or billed for) I could clearly see where all my time was going, and where I needed to improve my efficiency.

Support network – family, friends and professional networks

I cannot stress how valuable these networks have been this year. From friends and family willing to lend an ear to give me free advice or encouragement, to professional networks I am signed up to.

Working from home, by yourself, means you need to make the effort to build a work-social life and some “teammates”. Going to networking events or being part of an online support forum has helped build my confidence and my skills.

Highs and Lows – oh boy!

Clients that turn into nightmares, a month where I hardly billed enough to buy lunch, or self-doubt creeping in… I’ve had it all this year.

But I’ve also had glowing client reviews that made me cry when I read them (happy tears!) to hitting ALL THE GOALS ON MY 2018 BUSINESS PLAN…!!! Yay! You need to learn to be a little more balanced in your emotions and toughen up quickly. Actors/artists etc often say they don’t read reviews anymore as you’re only as good as your last review and they can be fickle. I agree to some extent and understand that getting good reviews and producing great work for your clients is awesome but be prepared for things to not always be that way and plan for Plan B.

Holistic marketing

By this I mean make sure you are investing your time and resources into at least 5 different avenues of marketing activities (social media, blogs, networking, paid adverts, website etc). Social media is great as it’s mostly free but you cannot rely on that only. Spread out your wings and try a variety of complimentary marketing tactics. This not only increases your reach but also your authenticity

Do you know your ideal client?

Please take the time to think about your services and your audience. What benefit can you offer to a customer; what problem does it solve? What’s the gender or age of your ideal client? Do they want to spend money on this or is it more of a life necessity? How will you reach your ideal client? Where will they find you?

If you’ve had a great year in business, then well done – take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. If you’ve had a rather challenging year, then don’t wallow – plan ahead and actively look for resources to help you next year.

The journey of a startup entrepreneur

Since I’ve been in the startup world lifestyle has transformed dramatically. A startup founder doesn’t have the same schedule and same priority has a professional does. Because we do stuff on their own and start a bunch of different from a solo entrepreneur who wants to provide food on his table only. Everyone wants to make money and become a billionaire. They paying bills at the same time is not obvious as we think. The difference between a startup entrepreneur and other business people is huge. Because you need to create big values for the global market, you have to be very Innovative to bring with something new on the market.

A few years ago I was attending an accelerator program with a friend of mine. He gave me the opportunity to partner with him in his venture. What I have learned it’s a very different and completely new world. Because I was working as a freelancer or solo entrepreneur doing consulting under my name BRUNER and it was pretty tough. So this business partner invited me to join our exploration program which was an amazing journey begun for me. Before I didn’t know what was the challenge for startup in such a program. I learned a lot of stuff from validating your business model, do a financial plan, meeting angels and to raise funds I wrote an ebook about.

Like a student or an apprentice, you have to start from the bottom, meaning validating your startup from the idea to a real business model. I learn it while I was building my network or net worth from business partners.

Based on my experiences, the best time to launch your startup is during your studies at a university or college mostly at the end.

For two major reasons, the first one: you don’t have bills as your own. And the second one is the access to many grants and loans available by a city like Montreal, I proud to be an ambassador.

So I started with my partner to lean and spin the business. By the way, I recommend everyone to read this book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. But during this process, he gave up. Because he didn’t find through this process was suitable for him. Well, I was continuing meanwhile I was also helping by giving my time to help the organization of the program. Just like a school, the teacher was so busy he doesn’t have time to follow up with all the entrepreneurs. They need to have coaching sessions and preparing training sessions and workshops. That where I started my learning curve.

Attending lot workshops and networking events were amazing and time-consuming. Gosh, I was having so much event sometimes I forgot most of the time about lunch and dinner. Anyway, we have mixed salad for dinner in these networking events for sure. Therefore this lifestyle of an entrepreneur may look fun or incredible, in the sense like we meet a lot of business entrepreneur hang out with them, having fun drinks. But you don’t see the hard work, overtimes and family concessions or unpaid bills just to keep the phone working. All you see on Instagram and Facebook and social media it’s only the superficial aspect of networking.

Meanwhile, in this adventure, we’ve met good entrepreneurs. One of them, an African smart gentleman who become my partner of these days. Because he was there to see how we can enjoy this program for this project he has. During that period, I started my a degree in IT governance. It’s helping me because I learn a lot about startups and be able to launch our financial technologies startup netdollar later on. That was my first ten cents for who are thinking about launching a startup. You need advisors, consultants and coachs with experience to help you grow and connect to the next level.

Why The World Needs You To Be a Start-Up In 2019

In case you missed it, here are some harsh facts to go with you morning latte-

    • Almost 200 species of living beings have gone extinct in the past 50 years alone — a rate of two per year.
    • ‘Dead zones’, i.e. Ocean locations where nothing can live, have increased by 75 per cent
    • Right now, an estimated 780 million people on the planet have no access to clean drinking water
    • It is predicted that based of today’s rate of deforestation, we may only be left with 10% of our rainforests by the year 2030
    • & probably, most importantly- global warming is causing unprecedented climate change that could result in the Earth’s 6th mass extinction event.

Trevor Banerjee - Coach to Green Startups

Why am I sharing this checklist of doom & gloom with you? As much as I may come across like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I generally tend to have a very positive outlook to life (I mean, as a Life Coach one would hope so!) however, these are the ugly facts that many of us choose to ignore and unless we pay attention and choose to do something, we risk losing… well, everything.

You see, I help small and medium sized businesses overcome any limitations that may be experiencing to help them grow and here’s the surprising fact- most of the time, those limitations lie in the minds of the Entrepreneur.

However, I’ve noticed is that these ‘Self-Limiting Beliefs’ as I like to call them, are most prevalent in the minds of another group of people; those who wish to start their own business, BUT DON’T.

These beliefs could be anything from ‘I have a brilliant idea but I don’t know how to run a business’ to ‘What if I fail and lose what I’ve worked hard for’ and everything in between. But once that limiting belief is converted into a positive mindset, I have seen mice turn into self-sufficient, employee-hiring, six-figure earning lions.

Trevor Banerjee - Business Coach

There are a number of exercises we go through to create this transformation, but one of the most important ones that I want to share with you today is this-

I teach my clients to get out of their own head and into the minds of the people they wish to serve. I help them understand that by NOT starting their business, they are depriving their potential client off a product or service that could add so much value into their lives.  

So if you have a business idea that you believe could, dare I say, save this world, then it’s no longer important for you to bring that vision to life, it is imperative.

Thus, here’s my message to you-

Mother Earth and all her children are under threat and she’s going to need all the help she can get. If you can do something within the realms of your current job, then great. But if it requires you starting something of your own, and the only thing standing in the way is your limiting beliefs, then kick aside; you have more important things to do.

Limiting beliefs have been responsible for the destruction of countless dreams.
We can’t allow it to be responsible for the destruction of the world.

 

About the Author

Trevor Banerjee is a Life Coach, Business Mentor, Motivational Speaker and Author of the Amazon Best-Seller, The Freedom Switch

He is passionate about the current crisis regarding climate change and the systematically destroying the planet, and he wants to do something about it. Which is why he has initiated a new coaching program that takes people from ‘Employee to Entrepreneur in 90 Days’. To know more about the program, feel free to book a complimentary 30 minute session with Trevor here