In May of this year I decided to stop dipping my toes in the water and take the plunge. I've learned A LOT since then. Starting my consulting agency, Mollie B. Marketing + Creative at age 25 has been one of the most rewarding ventures of my life but has come with its learning curves too. That's why I want to empower all you other entrepreneurs out there to chase your dreams.
UNDERSTANDING THE RISKS
You'll no longer be able to count on a bi/weekly paycheck
You'll need to guarantee you've got contracts in place to have an idea of how much you'll be making each week/month- understand that some things may not wind up falling in the timeline you'd originally planned for. Sometimes clients have to put a pause on projects if a family, budgeting or personal issue arises on their end.
You may not be the most extroverted person in the world but networking is key. If you're not willing to put yourself out there and show people what you can do, no one will ever know! So be loud and proud, but always stay humble.
HOW TO SURVIVE
Budgeting is essential, I downloaded the app Trim to look at where I was spending my money. I was able to cut out over $200/month by cancelling subscriptions I didn't need and cooking more meals from home I cut costs by renting out my spare bedroom in my loft, saving me hundreds.
Instead of having a membership at a gym I opt for a free workout experience at my apartment's gym and attend yoga classes around the city (often free or as low as $5). I also enjoy going on bike rides and walks through the park with friends.
If you can't yet afford an office, work from home or a local coffee shop. I tend to get cabin fever and crave interaction with others if I'm spending long hours alone working as a solorpreneur, so I enjoy working in public spaces that cost as little as a cup of coffee.
Say goodbye to regular salon and spa days. I didn't get my hair colored for over a year and was letting it grow out with only one cut in 13 months, saving me hundreds of dollars. If you absolutely have to get your hair and nails done regularly, look into bartering your services for your stylist's services or not going all-out for a few months until you get your feet off the ground. However, never underestimate self-care, just be thrifty!
Set goals for yourself. Be realistic. Where do you see yourself in a month, 6 months, a year? Create a vision board (I'm obsessed with Pinterest) and always be on top of trends and new developments in your industry to keep the dream alive and stay ahead of the competition!
6 months before quitting your job: Start developing your brand. Create a logo, website, and social media profiles to start marketing your work for free. Define your business' mission statement & aesthetic. Put your ego aside and be willing to do work for free. Take local workshops to sharpen your skills (like SkillPop for those of you in the NC and Nashville area). These classes helped build my confidence and further define my business aesthetic. Seek mentorship by looking at those who have been where you want to go and have found success.
3 months before quitting your job: Start putting away money if you haven't already and planning ahead. Look into the future and get things in line to have a revolving door of projects for the upcoming months. When I was still working 40 hours a week I would come home at night and on the weekends and put in about another 20 hours.
1 month before quitting your job: You're at the finish line and the beginning of a new journey. Listen to your gut. Do you feel good about where you are financially and is your client base steadily growing? If you need a little more time, be honest with yourself. If others are dependent on you and your income it is best to practice caution. There are so many benefits to being your own boss. If you're ready to make the plunge, start looking into office spaces or decide if you want to work from home. Meet with potential clients and write proposals. If you can land weekly or monthly gigs, that's a score. For example I am currently working with a boutique and each week I pay them an in-store visit to style outfits into flatlays for Instagram and also update social media 6 times a week with what's new, trending and promote upcoming trunk shows. Also, start planning your weekly schedule and make time to work on each client's project. I recommend dedicating at least a couple of hours on each project (depending on urgency) each day. For example: 8-11:30am- Project #1, 1:30-12:30pm-Lunch, 12:30-3pm Personal web/social/email management, 3-5pm- Project #2 When you don't have anyone watching the clock for your arrival, it's easy to sleep in, but the sooner you can maintain a regular schedule with structure, the easier it will be to meet your goals.
While going off on your own can be scary, when you approach it with a realistic perspective you will be sure to be a success. Being able to say you are your own boss is pretty incredible. It allows you to spend more time with family, friends and vacation more often. You can chose the types of clients you want to work with and say no when you're spreading yourself too thin. You'll feel proud of what you've created and nothing is more rewarding than a gushing review from a business you've helped. There's no looking back, today's your day to start crafting the future you always dreamed of!
Leave a comment below with your best advice for starting a business.