Dean: “You are really good at this. I think I need your help.”
Me: “Thank you! I’ll help you.”
Dean/First Client: “No I want to pay you for this, send me an invoice.”
Me/New Entrepreneur: “Oh! Ummm Ok. Thank you! I’ll get that for you.” Calls friend, “Girl I just started a business, what should I charge?”
I was an accidental entrepreneur. I was minding my business, trying to survive law school, when my first client asked me for an invoice which started my coaching/consulting firm Making Straight Paths. I had no guidance, no idea what to do, and definitely not an invoice template (thank you Microsoft!). Since then I have made it my focus to help other new entrepreneurs avoid the deer-in-headlights experience I had, and start their business on the right foot. If you are an intentional entrepreneur and want to set yourself up for success here are my top 5 steps to getting started:
- Know your “why” – One of the biggest and hardest steps to starting a business is knowing your why. Your why is different from my why and different from hers. Your why is connected to your purpose and will make your business unique to you and the people you are called to serve. Knowing clearly why you want to start this business will keep you from chasing shiny objects and taking on other people’s problems. Once you know your why write it down and post it somewhere you will see it often. Keeping your vision in front of you will help you stay focused.
- Know your view of success – This is big! Your first year is one of the toughest! However, knowing what you view as success can help you keep focused when the going is tough or great! Creating your own measuring stick can help you not get distracted by the 20 people who liked your post or the lack thereof. Further, it will help you stop comparing your growth to such and such and losing momentum with what you have to do. Whatever your view of success own it, write it down, and keep focused.
- Prepare your inner circle – No you don’t need anyone’s permission but you will need support. Share your vision with those closest to you and ask for their support (not to become your first clients – not everyone is your client). You want to give them a chance to walk this out with you if they are safe. By talking it over you also give them a chance to make a real change in their life as well. One conversation can change your loudest critics to your biggest fans.
- Know your numbers – Be clear how much you need to replace and surpass your current income. Unclear and unrealistic numbers will have you charging too little or too much which can delay your success. Hopefully, you created a business to help create some financial independence in your life. Knowing what it will take to get you there will keep you determined to work your business idea until it pays off.
- Plan for success – Switching from a consumer to a producer is a big change, and we all know big changes do not happen overnight. So make a plan! Get a calendar and begin to track your time. After you’ve monitored how you actually spend your time, then map out how you want to spend your time, and create time to work on your business every week. Whether it’s an hour or 5 you have to begin to create space in your life for this new thing and to give it a chance to grow.
These are simple yet profound ways to start your journey on the right path. Knowing your reasons, motivations, and numbers will help you focus on creating a business that will lead you to your goals. There is so much that is needed to run a successful business but I want to encourage you that you already have everything you need to start successfully!
Markita Samuel is a business coach, consultant, and the founder of the all-inclusive coaching and consulting firm Making Straight Paths. As a teacher, author and lawyer, Markita decided to create Making Straight Paths to help others discover their entrepreneurial paths to success. Connect with Markita on LinkedIn and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact her here!