Believe it or not I never planned on becoming self-employed, let alone a sales-focused business coach. This is probably something to do with a seeing my Dad deal with the stress of running his 3 very successful hairdressing salons with around 30 employees.
And yes, I can hear you saying, ‘so now I know why she has pink in her hair!’
Anyhow, I found myself out of a job towards the end of 2018 and very quickly realised what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be involved in travelling to Europe, commuting to London (or anywhere too far from home for that matter). I desired a more fulfilling role where I could implement my ideas and be responsible for my own destiny and earnings. Like so many others, I was at a stage of my life where I needed to find more of a purpose.
Incredibly, it’s now two years since setting myself up as a business development consultant and coach with Nfinite. Which felt like enough of a milestone to take stock of the things I’ve learnt in that time.
7 things I’ve learnt since becoming self-employed
- Determination and focus are crucial
It’s so important to avoid distraction and keep the dreaded ‘Comparisonitus’ at bay. But how?
- Ensure you have a strategy. Without this you will not know what you need to be doing to achieve your desired outcome. Create a plan around what you are looking to achieve, how you will measure success and the tactics required to deliver against your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to achieve a certain amount of money and you are a service-based business, establish what is realistic in line with 50% utilisation.
- Avoid feeling the pressure to be doing things that other people think you should be doing. For example, I didn’t have a website until I had been in business for around 20 months. I’m pleased I waited this long otherwise I would have ended up creating everything twice because I was still honing my proposition.
- Acknowledge that your offering may change
Accept that whatever you offer as a service will probably change as you and your business evolve. It pays to be flexible and open to offers and ideas rather than having set ways of working. A good example of this is when someone approached me to help them with some business coaching and training. I didn’t offer it at the time, but it’s now one of my main offerings.
Do some work on your value proposition. For me this was invaluable. This is where you will identify the pain points of your prospects and clients along with how your service solves their problems.
My recommendation? Value Proposition Design. This book helped me see things from an outside perspective looking in on my business and enabled me to see things from my clients’ and prospects’ view.
- Small business owners need to learn to say no
If you don’t respect your time, no one else will either.
Don’t feel bad for not wanting to conduct meetings in the evenings or the weekends. After all, human nature is that we try have meetings at a time convenient to us. There is a reason that you became self-employed and it’s not normally to be working in the hours you’d be spending with your family, children and pets such as evenings and weekends. Disrespect your time and you will start feeling resentful because you did not speak up. And that that is a drain on your energy, motivation and mindset.
- Network to find your tribe
Not sure about networking?
Allow me to convince you.
- Networking gives you an opportunity to grow your business by expanding your reach and forging new connections.
- It gives you an opportunity to grow your confidence, learn new skills and find mentors or collaborators.
- It helps reduce the isolation you might feel when you go self-employed, especially if you’re used to working in teams.
At the core of networking is the opportunity to build relationships – get to know people at a deeper level and business will follow naturally.
Try different networking groups and focus on the ones that work for you and what you are looking to achieve. For me, networking gives me opportunities to increase my exposure, to speak at events, and to create collaborations or potential trade-offs.
Remember that networking can give you opportunities to grow your business by agreeing potential part or full trade off of services.
- Feel the pain and do it anyway
I like to compare self-employment to exercise.
The best thing about working for yourself is working for yourself. It can also be your worst enemy… if you allow it to be, and don’t listen to your body.
Hear me out… The area you feel the most discomfort, whether that’s physically, emotionally or mentally, is probably the area you need to work on the most. Sure, those planks are hideous, but you know they’re only terrible because you need to work on your core!
Discomfort often indicates a development area. Work on that area and you’ll see the best returns. It all comes down to the good old comfort zone. My tip as a business coach? Do your least favourite activities at the beginning of the day. Then they’re done and you can get on with the rest of your day.
- Source suppliers carefully
The people you work with are as important as the people you work for. A good supplier can set your offering apart. A bad supplier will cost you dearly. For that reason, I’ve learnt to qualify suppliers in the same way as I’d qualify a prospect.
Here’s a quick rundown:
- Do you gel with the person?
- What is their working style?
- Do they have processes in place? Are these processes aligned with yours?
- Are their services in line with your expectations?
- Do they detail their service or offering in a proposal?
- Can they provide you with solid references?
If you’re in any doubt speak to their clients. Most importantly ensure you speak to people that have experienced the service you are considering investing in. This way you can understand what they have achieved for others.
- Get the basics right
Set up your business as you mean to go on and you’ll save untold hours and heartache down the line. Here are the things I learnt:
- Accounting software is a godsend when it comes to saving time. I pay £9 a month to QuickBooks and it saves me more in time that it costs me. It also means life is far easier when the end of the tax year arrives.
- Make sure your clients know what your cancellation periods are and create your Terms and Conditions accordingly. Failure to do this could mean you are subject to meetings being cancelled at the last minute and unable to book other clients in at short notice.
- Get organised. I have got used to putting everything in my diary as I did when I was an employee. I have gone one step further and categorise each meeting with a colour for analysis.
- Create structures, disciplines and templates to avoid duplication. Whether that’s a briefing template or a set approach to onboarding new clients, building structure and discipline into your business will make life easier for you. It will also demonstrate to clients that you have your act together. We 100% attract what we radiate. I believe this isn’t just in our demeanour but also in the way we conduct business.
I’ve learnt so much but with what I have planned I believe my best is still yet to come!
Ultimately, you need to believe in yourself
Believe in your ability. Setting up your own business takes strength, courage and determination. If you want some extra help or simply feel like you could do with a (gentle) push to grow your business, book a free 30-minute discovery call with me to talk things through. I’d love to hear from you.
A final few words…
No-one is an island, and I couldn’t have got this far as a business development consultant and sales coach without the support of other incredible small business owners.
They are (in alphabetical order!):
Alex Grist of ExceptionalCX for her buyer journey mapping and persona profiles.
Andrea Haas of Inner Strength for her help with EFT hypnotherapy.
Ben Fielding and his team at Blucando IT for their never-failing IT support.
Carol Patterson at Queen Bee in the Woods for her wonderful products.
Charlotte Emery at Arbonne for her almost magical Fizz Sticks.
Claire Francis at Tropic Skincare for the amazing beauty products.
Dawn Gregory, for her help with communication and presentation speaker coaching.
Ema Doherty, The Hair and Beauty Artist for the lovely make-up (a Zoom call essential!).
Gemma Lane of Hidden Gem VA for her VAPA services.
Gill Siemak of Paper Rock her the branding and design work
Ginny Marsh of Gorgeous You Photography for the incredible photography on my website.
Hilary Cryer from House of Colour for her styling session.|
Irina Nailer of Irina Nailer Health Coaching for her health coaching sessions.
Jane Redhead of KallKwik Printing in Farnham for the high-quality printing and design work.
Janet Alkema, The Time Finder Specialist for her support services.
Jason Lawes of Red Sentence for building this website and supporting with graphic design.
Karen Brooks of Pellings Business Support for her support services.
Kerry Ellis, the image consultant and stylist for her so-helpful wardrobe review.
Laura Sands of Laura Sands Copywriting for helping write my website and edit my blogs.
Linda Huckle of Your Key to LinkedIn for the LinkedIn training she gave me in my early days.
Lisa Cooke of Level Three Creative Limited for her design work.
Lisa Sinfield of Captain Tortue for the amazing clothes.
Lisa Vassallo of Onetothree for the social media marketing help.
Mandi Martin for the amazing vouchers you created for me to give James for our 10th wedding anniversary.
Mandy Dineley of My Beautiful Pen, writing verses and poems for special occasions.
Pru Gayton of PAC Copywriting for writing the case studies on my website.
Rachel Maunder, the Speaker and Speaker Coach who helped me find my stories.
Sarah Lynn-Hodder of Bettering Youth for the PT sessions to strengthen my knees.
Steve Hall at Health at Hart for his Osteopathic skills.
Tania Fraser of TWIG for her spreadsheet and software magic.
Vicki Kleboe for your financial expertise and advice in relation to my dad.
Wendy Moffat of JRA Chauffeur Drive for the impeccable chauffeur car hire.