Do you remember your first year running as a new business owner? What was your first year like? Lots of ups and downs, learnings, mistakes and achievements?

I’ve recently celebrated my first 12 months in business and I’d like to share some of the highs and lows of my journey thus far.

No! I can’t fit 8 hours of services into 5 hours.

Some people will want the earth and to pay very little for it. These people tend to have unrealistic expectations. For example, I will never compete with a $7/hr offshore VA. Don’t even try. As soon as the prospect mentions an extremely low priced alternative, just walk away. Seriously, they are just tyre kickers and if they do engage you, they will resent every cent they spend on you.

Realise that in any biz, you will have enquiries from prospects who won’t value your offerings. You don’t have to work with these people. There are clients for every price point, and you just need to remain firm on your pricing.  Which leads me to…

Never be afraid to turn down work with those who aren’t aligned to your goals.

Sometimes, you won’t know if your client is a good fit, until after you start working with them. I discovered that it pays to ask lots of questions and when you hear/see the red flags – listen to them! Act on them! These are the signals that this might not be an ideal client. Better to walk away before you invest your time and energy. I was of the belief that I should never turn down a prospect, but I soon realised that as soon as I made the ‘best’ choice for my needs, then the door swung open and an ideal client walked in. When I made a choice that wasn’t aligned, then I ended up dealing with issues.

Yes! I finally found ‘my people’.

When it comes to networking – and YES you must get out and network – keep looking until you find people who share your values and goals.  Your ability to foster the ‘know, like, trust’ factor, depends on whether you resonate with the people you interact and engage with. If you’re mixing with people who don’t click with you, move on and keep trying. You will get there eventually. And when you do, you will fit right in and find the support you deserve and the clients will flow naturally.

What! I can’t just build a website and customers will find me?

I truly thought that I could build my website and then clients would miraculously find me. It does NOT work that way. You need to put yourself out there and learn how to promote your business. As someone who worked previously in large companies, I had no exposure to marketing, as there was an entire department who took care of that. I was lucky enough to find an experienced business coach, who mentored and coached me through the fundamentals of marketing a small business. And then the lights flicked on. Find yourself a coach and set a marketing plan.

I worked out my niche

Do some homework and spend some time working out your niche. It will really help you focus your marketing efforts towards your ideal clients, rather than a shotgun approach. Write down your strengths, your key qualifications, your industries, the work that you think of as fun and energises you.  This is how you find your niche. At first I discovered my niche was supporting mining consultants and I found some good mining consultant clients via Linkedin, but not enough to pay the bills, so I evolved to supporting IT consultants, and various small businesses in the local area. Then I relocated to a new part of QLD, and during this process I realised that my true enjoyment comes from focussing on a few core offerings. I really enjoy building websites and helping people with their resumes.

Wahoo! I’m finally doing what I love for nice people, who value my offerings.

Eventually, I found clients who I love working for and who value the services I provide for them. I am building my client base and have faith that the right clients will find me.

Read, read, and read some more.

My final tip is to never stop learning. Read online articles, attend local workshops, sign up for online e-learning courses and read business books.

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Author Profile:      Cath McGregor | Modern Day PA

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