Starting Your Own Business? Here’s 4 Things I Wish I Knew First

L Bee Note: Now that I work for myself full time, I'm learning something new each day. Still, there are a few things I wish I knew before I got started, so today I’m sharing 4 important things to know when starting a small business inspired by the Office Depot Business Solutions Center. This isΒ part of a sponsored post series I'm doing with Socialstars. Want to join in the fun? Use the hashtag #GearLove.Β 

Starting Your Own Business: It's Difficult to Work From Home

Before I went full time for my own business, I was lucky enough to work for a company that allowed a few “work from home” days here and there. It felt like a fun treat, doing laundry in between the work I needed to get done for the next day. I actually got more done working from home in those days than I did in the office because I didn't have the typical office distractions.

But when I started exclusively working from home I struggled with productivity. (I like this post on ways you're inadvertently killing productivity on Office Depot Business Solutions Center.) Even still I sometimes feel incredibly distracted and a little lost. This is why it is important to set up a dedicated office space. It took me a few weeks to get everything set up (including new furniture and a new laptop computer), but now I'm working from home in a much more efficient way!

How Important It Is to Create Structure In Your Day

An outside office wasn't the only thing I lost when I left to work for myself. I also lost a good amount of structure and routine to my day which also helped with my productivity. In addition to a dedicated office space, I had to create to set a concrete schedule for when I work, new ways to track my hours for my clients, and become better at scheduling time for myself to do invoicing, filing, and pitching for new work so it doesn't interfere with the items I need to in a day to keep up with my clients.

Some days are crazier than others, and working for myself allows for increased flexibility to do the fun things I want to do or accommodate client requests. Still, to help stay on track I try to adhere to the following schedule:

  • Work Hours from 7-9:30 AM, and 1-6:30 p.m.
  • I do invoicing on Fridays and I try to email/pitch new clients on Wednesday mornings because my coaching sessions typically fall on Wednesday afternoons.

Take Yourself Seriously and Others Will Too!

I never believed in the expression “Fake It Till You Make It” more than when I started my own small business. If you take yourself, your business, and what you're doing seriously, then others will too! Part of “faking it” includes having work agreements for clients, clear policies for how you'd like to get paid and handle client issues, a solid business plan (I like the step-by-step tutorial on the Office Depot Small Business Solutions Center site, here) and a website with business cards.

I was timid at first, partly out of my own uncertainty about how working for myself was going to work out, but acting confident in my business has helped me to replace my full-time income from my old job in less than four weeks.

There Will Be Moments When You Have to Assert Yourself

Nothing prepared me for how often I was going to have to assert myself as a small business owner. When you're a side hustler, the pressure is off and work arrangements are a bit more casual. Now that all of the onus is on me to wow clients, bring in the money, and ensure I have enough work coming in to pay my bills, there have been a handful of moments where I've had to stand up for myself. My old boss used to handle the difficult conversations; now that I'm the boss, I have to handle those as well.

Whether it is calling a client who hasn't paid, not letting potential clients negotiate my rates with me, or learning how to “say no,” when someone begs for a last minute turnaround, I'm growing a little bit more backbone every day!

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There is a steep learning curve for being an entrepreneur, and here are the four things to know before starting your own business.

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  • Matt
    June 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I hope to start my own business someday. Your success is inspiring! 4 weeks to replace your previous salary. .. great stuff!

    • Lauren Bee
      June 17, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks Matt!

  • Dia
    May 26, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    This came at the perfect time. I work full time while trying to get my website/side business off the group. I decided to take last Wednesday off from my full time job to work on other things. It was such a unproductive day and I just really wanted/needed to rest and recharge my batteries. Luckily I was able to take Thursday off and sat down with a To-Do list and game plan for the day and got a lot more done. Just that sneak peak of working from home made me realize how focused I’ll have to be.
    I’ve always been a little like that, I can only get so much done at home without getting distracted, even in college I’d have to study at the library or a cafe to separate the “work world” and “home world”.
    Great post!

    • Lauren Bee
      May 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks Dia! I’m still learning and will be sure to share on the blog πŸ™‚

  • Hello Pre Nurse
    May 21, 2015 at 10:54 am

    These are great tips and lessons. I’ll keep them in mind for when I reach full-time self-employment. πŸ™‚ -Kayla

    • Lauren Bee
      May 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks Kayla!

  • Stefanie @ brokeandbeau
    May 21, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Structure and productivity are really hard and something I struggle with CONSTANTLY. It’s really hard for me to get into that place of “flow”

    • Lauren Bee
      May 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      I have it for maybe 2-3 hours and then it is gone. And then I sit back and then about how I used to put in a good 6-8 hours of solid productive time a week! Crazy!

  • Holly Johnson
    May 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I agree with these! I suppose I have a built-in work day because my kids are at school and daycare from around 8-3. I have no choice but to work during those hours. My husband works at home too now, and he can be distracting. We started working in different rooms (him in the office and me in the living room) so we can both get stuff done!

    • Lauren Bowling
      May 20, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      I’d love to have that kind of built in accountability. I’m best when I’m under the wire and I imagine knowing the kids are coming home at 3 every day is the best motivation there is!

    • Lauren Bee
      May 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      I would love that kind of built in structure. Maybe I’ll have a kid so I can get some work done! πŸ˜‰ lol