Being In Business: A Year In Review
I have been in business officially for over a year! I've had my ups and downs but like any good business owner, you got to learn to roll with the punches. This past year in business has taught me quite a bit about myself and how to run a business. Everything from how to market myself, who to market to, and how to sell; I didn't think I'd ever need to learn to sell, but I'm still working on it.
Here's My Year In Review:
Have an accounting software: A lot of people use QuickBooks. I currently use Wave. It's free, easy and you can link your accounts to it. Set up a reminder on your phone every week to categorize your business and personal expenses. It helps if you have a dedicated business account and a dedicated personal account. This will help you distinguish which expenses are deductible and which expenses are personal.
My accounting software also lets me know what I'm spending too much on. For start-ups like myself, running lean on overhead and other business expenses can help keep us in business longer. However, come 2018 I will be trying out Quickbooks Self-Employed. I hear you can track your mileage, take pictures of your receipts & store them, and at the end of the tax year, the integration with Turbo Tax is seamless, that's what matters to me most.
Know your value: I honestly didn't know what to charge for my services when I first started. I mean, I'm selling advice that provides some value in the front end but major value in the long-term. That's kind of a hard sell to tell people, "Imagine the possibilities." Nevertheless, I learned to stick to my guns on my pricing and leave little room for negotiation. After all, people who are in need of what you are selling will see the value of your service and product.
That's not to say, pricing doesn't change. For example, I used to live in San Antonio, TX and now live in Pharr, TX. The cost of living is different so my pricing model obviously needed to be adjusted.
Know your client: When I first moved down to the Rio Grande Valley to open my practice, I didn't have a target market. I was under the impression that "everyone needs a financial plan." However, after 8 months of chasing after everyone and anyone under the sun, I learned that there was a particular type of client I was attracting. So I've narrowed my marketing efforts to that type of client. That's not to say I gave up on everyone else under the sun, it just means that my message & services resonate with certain people.
Knowing the type of client that is most likely in need of your services or sees value in what you do helps with marketing and sales. For example, I don't have to sound too sales-y trying to pitch something that they may not be interested in or waste time & money marketing to the wrong client. After all, it already cost me 8 months!
Marketing & Networking with a Purpose: As a relatively new business owner, this is something that I continue to get better at. Knowing who your client is the first step. Once I got this figured out, I was able to weed out the networking events and marketing material that I didn't have to go to or need. When you're in business, your creative, gregarious side may take over every now and again pushing you to spread yourself thin.
I was once sold on the idea that the more networking events you went to, the more prospects you can line up. While the laws of numbers plays true to that effect, the "X" factor is going to the "right" events. You have to go to the right events to line up the right prospects to make your marketing effective.
Surround yourself with great people: I cannot stress how stressful being a business owner is. Having great people around you that support your dreams and encourage you through your failures is important. I think the best investments I've made in my business to this day is joining a local coworking space (Grindstone that's you!), joining local chambers of commerce, and professional organizations.
Joining these kinds organizations and surrounding yourself with like-minded people can keep you going through the dark times of owning a business. So if you are in business or thinking of opening up a business, cheers to you for having the courage to live your dream.
Here's to Another Year and More!
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