I’ve always had an entrepreneurial soul.
Since high school I’ve been doing freelance web design projects, selling my paintings and photography.
I always loved this kind of work but was always told it’s best to work for someone else first before you start your own business. To learn how the real world operates, how others do business.
This belief made me waste so many years I could spend building my own brand.
So I threw myself into this work, climbing the corporate ladder. I was good at it. I thought I was successful.
In my career I worked for brands like River Island and Jimmy Choo. Great perks, fancy glass office on the 11th floor in central London, cool team of amazing creatives. I even met the CEO of Jimmy Choo and thought this was amazeballs.
Yet still, I grew unhappy.
I always wanted to have my own business, but since I didn’t know any entrepreneur, I didn’t really know how to even start.
I was also fed a lie that starting your own business is difficult, you need a huge budget and you certainly can’t do it yourself. This might have been true in the old days.
The book, that changed everything
After listening to the Kayla’s podcast on my hour commute to work, I stumbled upon yet another thing that blew my mind.
The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris. This book made me so excited, I built my business in 3 months, while working full time and spending 2 hours commuting each day.
I didn’t have a summer that year. I worked all throughout weekends. I quit my job after only 3 months, before my trial period ended.
This book made me realise what starting a business these days really entails: a skill set, solid business plan, an internet connection and couple of hundered quid. So I thought: why shouldn’t I try?
I found myself a few clients, built a website and started being active on social media.
After only 3 months I was able to quit my job and go full time in business. I’d already have a few projects in my portfolio, a killer offer and was ready for business.
8 things I’ve learned for a year of running my own business
Your mindset is the most important thing you need to work on.
It’s not your skill set, it’s not how big budget you have, it’s your mindset that will either give you wings, or stop you on your track.
It’s possible you have never had to really work on it when you were an employee. You might have not stumbled upon many roadblocks during your corporate career.
The first thing you’ll learn after starting your own business is how much you have to work on your thoughts.
Everyday, you’ll be on a rollercoaster. First you’ll think you can do this. Then you’ll start doubting yourself. Until you get to the point when you think you can’t go past it and wonder why did you ever start a business anyway. Entrepreneurship is all about being brave. You need to make working on your mindset a habit and learn to remove mindset blocks.
Those are the most common beliefs and blocks I heard of:
- The more I work the more money I earn (big one for me, still working on it!).
- I can’t earn more than X, nobody’s going to pay me that much.
- Entrepreneurship is not safe, you can only have control over your finances in a job.
- If I quit my job and start my own business, I won’t have anything to come back to if it doesn’t work out. I’ll loose my spot in a corporate ladder.
- I won’t earn good money.
- I’ll need to argue about money, late payments and clients taking advantage of me.
If you feel you’re blocked by any of them, try journaling. Or better yet, hire a coach. A good one.
Spending £5-10k on a coach that’s going to help you build a business is worth every penny.
You need to learn to prioritise, delegate and eliminate.
Tim Ferris, everyone. I’ll be forever grateful for what he taught me.
- Learn to set your life and business priorities.
- Understand you’re not an employee anymore and have control over your time: plan your days and tasks wisely.
- Your time is valuable. Make sure you only do tasks that you should be doing. Cleaning your inbox of old emails should be a task you delegate to your VA.
- Eliminate or automate repetitive, dull tasks you don’t have to do yourself. There are things like Zapier, girl.
If something scares you, you should probably do it.
For so long, I was afraid to deal with clients, go on calls, present my work to them myself, gather their feedback. The normal stuff you do when you have your own creative business.
The truth is, I love dealing with my clients and I’m pretty good at it. I have this skill of quickly putting myself in my client’s shoes, so I get them. I know how they feel, what they want and what they’d like to have, even if they don’t say it.
It’s also important, to attract the right clients so that you can really connect with them on a deeper level. If I worked with men, I’d probably be quite bad at it!
Be clear on what you do and who you want to work with.
At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I was afraid of niching down. I thought if I focus on a narrow segment of people, nobody else is going to come my way. And that I’d be loosing out.
When you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to nobody. Because you won’t speak to anyone in a deep enough way. Nobody will feel like you understand them and you won’t be able to build trust you need to sell your service.
You need to dive deep into your client’s mind, really get them. Only then can you make them feel like you’re there for them only. Then when they go onto your website and read the copy you wrote for them in mind, they’re like OMG she really gets me.
Being in control when you're an employee, is a big, fat lie.
If you think you’re in control having a secure job and predictable income, you believe in a big, fat lie.
You only have around 1 to 3 months of a relative job security, because if your employer decides to cut down on costs and fire you, you’re done, friend.
Your next move will be looking for a job. If you’re a designer like me, it can mean months, even though you’re in demand (like I was).
After all, you don’t want just any job. You want the job, don’t you?
And you need to go on X interviews, go through Y number of hiring stages… this is true especially for highly qualified people. To get a job at Jimmy Choo I had to go to 3 interviews and do 2 design tasks for them + a presentation. It took 2 months alltogether.
Sometimes, you may spend years in a job you really love, where you feel like you’re a part of a family and then lose your job in an instant (which 1 month’s notice may feel like). Sometimes, nobody even cares how much you contributed to the company over the years. They don’t need you anymore. You’re just an asset, which is sad, but true for so many of us.
What gives you true control over your own finances and life, is building your own business. Growing your own skill set and becoming a better asset.
It will help you in both job search and to get better at business. Learn every day, girl! Let learning and becoming a better version of you become your habit.
Yes, in business your income may not be predictable at first, but it’s all in your control. When (and if) it becomes predictable depends on the steps you take.
There isn’t a salary ceiling you can hit when you’re your own boss.
Nobody tells you how to spend your days. You’re not forced to do tasks that waste your time and talents, because of someone else in your team or your boss (this was a big one for me).
It’s rare that you lose all clients at once, so you’re usually fully booked a few months in advance. If you’re smart and add a passive income stream (or streams!), your income becomes more predictable than in any job you’ve ever had.
You finally gain real control.
You can do more than you ever thought you can and you will grow quicker than you think.
For years I believed I couldn’t deal with clients, or I couldn’t run a business, or I couldn’t hire people and be a boss.
The thing is, you can do more than you ever imagined. Just let yourself actually try.
I found out I’m quite good with the discomfort of not knowing. Not knowing how to do stuff (yet!), but agree on doing them. This makes me grow faster than I ever did in any of the jobs I’ve ever had.
You have to wear many hats and you don’t know what you’re doing most of the time. But after some time you see, that you learn quicker than you ever thought possible. You see you’re actually quite good at this or that. Something you never had to do before.
For the last year, I grew as a designer, person, business owner, entrepreneur, art director and digital strategist more than for the last 7 years of working for someone else.
On a daily basis, I need to do things I would never have to even think about before. Therefore I learn new things.
I push myself, every day. After a few months you get so used to this feeling of going out of your comfort zone that if you stop, you kind of miss it.
There’re so many things I didn’t know about myself before I started my business.
Like that, I’m really hardworking and ambitious. Or that I can deal with difficult situations and turn them into a good thing.
What I also learned, is that I don’t need a boss over my head. I’m good at managing my own time and tasks. I’m much more efficient than I’ve ever been because I choose my own tasks. I can delegate, or automate the rest, instead of wasting my time doing dull tasks that don’t really need to be done by me.
Quitting your job and starting your own business will make you a better employee, should you ever go back.
This was a big one that held me back for a few months. This was the #1 mind block I stumbled upon during my 3 months of full-time-working-building-my-business period. Without the help of Melissa, my coach at the time, I’d probably be stuck on it till this day.
I spent a lot of time climbing the corporate ladder and being surrounded by people doign the same. This made me afraid, that if I start my own business and quit my job, I’d lose my spot. I’d fall out and will never be able to go back if my business doesn’t work.
The truth is, I now know more and understand businesses I used to work for better. Instantly, I become a better candidate for the job.
Never burn any bridges, but don't hold on to relationships that don't serve you anymore.
I don’t believe in burning bridges ever, but there are people and relationships that you should simply learn to let go.
If you want to change your way of life, you should start surrounding yourself with people who lead this life already.
Therefore, if you start your own business, maybe it’s worth to let go of your work colleagues who have a strong employee mindset. Or old friends who project their own fears on you and therefore cut your wings, telling you “you won’t make it, it’s difficult” or “aren’t you afraid it won’t work“?
It’s crucial that you cut those people out of your environment as much as possible. I’m not saying stop talking to them. Just don’t let their energy surround you all day, every day. You can’t afford it when you’re changing your life.
Starting your own business is life changing. And it should be treated as a life change.
So surround yourself with people who already did it and believe that you will too. Learn from others and believe it’s possible, because it is!
Most of all, work on your mindset because this is what will make you or break you.
Do you have your own business? If you do, what is the most important thing you learned from having it?
Hi, I'm Alex!
Brand Stylist, Web designer & Digital Strategist at my company, Adored Designs.
I live in a small town in Somerst, UK with my hubby, live for coffee and books + absolutely love blogging. After quitting my job at Jimmy Choo I started my own business to be able to do what I want, live where I want and have more control over my life.