You’ve done it. You’ve made the decision to take a leap and finally dive into your first year of business. Congratulations!
You’re riding high, excited about the freedom and possibilities that are just around the bend, and can’t wait to bring your passions into the world…
…..when overwhelm and confusion set in.
You’re not alone.
With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder you – and every single other female entrepreneur I’ve encountered – don’t know where to start. Or what to do next.
In this blog, I’m breaking down the startup phase and focusing in on the 10 most important things for you to do in your first year of business so you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. These are big picture items that will serve you throughout your entrepreneurial journey and give you the strength of a solid foundation from which to grow over time.
If you’re looking for more of a tactical list, download my Launch Checklist and Startup Kit.
1) MASTER YOUR MINDSET – Building a business is like raising a child. Sometimes you feel confident in your decisions, sometimes you feel confused and frustrated, and sometimes you feel downright unequipped for the job. The payoffs are huge and rewarding, but the journey itself demands strength, courage and patience.
When you start questioning yourself (and you will!), when your head trash gets the best of you, or when you get caught up in a comparison game (to others who have been in the biz for years)… pause, be gentle, and regain control of your mindset.
It’s natural to feel like you’re on a roller coaster, especially with the steep learning curve involved in managing your first year of business. But don’t let it stop you in your tracks completely.
2) FIND A COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT – Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, especially for us solopreneurs, so it’s critical that you find a small group of gals to celebrate with you, support you when things get tough, and engage in thought partnership when you need someone to bounce an idea off of. If you don’t have a few obvious pals who are in this business-building world and can be your accountability partner, find a local meetup or women’s networking group and start to build relationships with people online that can become part of your tribe going forward.
3) KNOW YOUR NUMBERS – You’ve heard it said: It takes money to make money. Well, how much money do you have to invest in the first year of your new business? Have you considered how long it may take you to make money? How many months (or years) can you go without an income? When you start earning, how much do you need to take home versus put back into your business? How many monthly clients do you need to be viable – or better yet, profitable? Knowing these numbers will give you the clarity you need to make spending decisions in year one.
4) SET GOALS – Setting first year business goals will help you track your progress and manage expectations. Most of my clients have a goal of earning $100,000 in their first year of business. For some businesses, this is realistic, while it’s not for others. Remember that your first year is all about laying the foundations, developing your model and hanging your proverbial shingle. When you create goals that go beyond dollar signs, you’ll start to see how business will flourish.
5) DOCUMENT EVERYTHING – Imagine hiring your first employee or freelancer and realizing that you have to spend hours training her… With all the moving parts of your new business, documenting all of your systems and processes now will ensure you’re ready to expand as your business grows. Call it an Operations Manual or Systems Guide – either way, it’s a document that explains, step-by-step, how you do what you do in your business so that it can be replicated without you giving hours of direction.
6) BUILD YOUR BRAND – When I talk about branding, know that it’s so much more than just your logo, fonts and color palette. Building your brand entails that you tap into your unique brand personality, what makes you special in the marketplace and how you differ from your competitors, who your ideal client is, and so much more. By hiring a graphic designer to create a logo for your new business before you have done the work of building your brand strategy, you are neglecting one of the most fundamental foundations needed to successfully build and scale your business. Worse, I’ve seen new business owners go back to the drawing board after they realize the mistake, only to double down on that expense. Strategy first, girl.
7) READ, RESEARCH, LISTEN & LEARN – The learning curve for entrepreneurship is steep, and the best way to increase your knowledge base is to absorb as much as you can in that first year of business. You’ve probably already learned that there are countless resources available to you, and weeding through them is no small feat. Start slowly. Read one book at a time. Find a website (this one, perhaps?!) that becomes your go-to source for learning. Identify a podcast that’s enjoyable and educational that you can soak up in the car or on your morning walk. Find a mentor and ask loads of questions.
8) GET THE RIGHT TOOLS – Having the right tools in place makes running and growing your new business so much simpler. As you start to work IN your business, identify the systems that would enhance productivity and streamline your day-to-day business activities. Here’s a list of resources that we love here at REL Impact and that may be game-changers for you, too.
9) CREATE A SCHEDULE – Launching a new business requires countless hours of work; and yet, there are still only 168 hours in the week. And, getting your new business off the ground isn’t the only thing on your list!
So, how do people do it?!
I’ve seen the most success when people commit to a specific number of hours each week and block them out on the calendar. Whether you’re meeting with someone in person or not, putting it on the calendar makes it more official and reduces the chance that you’ll insert one of the other 47 things on your list.
10) FOCUS ON PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION – Girl, this one doesn’t come easy for me… but I can tell you that when you take one step at a time and resist the urge to fine-tune and refine to the umpteenth degree, the payoffs of putting your gifts out into the world are huge. It’s more important to start than it is to be perfect, and it’s all part of the journey.
If you’re interested in more of the tactical strategies needed for your first year in business, grab my Launch Checklist and Startup Kit below.
Hi, I'm Rachel!
I’ll help you create a life you love living by giving you all the tools, resources and support you need to launch and run your own business.