Counterintuitive Tips For Starting Your Business From Scratch
Back in June of this year I decided to take a summer sabbatical from my business. What was initially intended to be a "break", eventually spiraled into a full blow Mariah Carey moment where I deleted all of my social media accounts and blog. At first, it felt liberating.
What the heck did I just do? Years of gaining street cred and a large-ish following was suddenly gone in a moment of midnight-boredom-induced impulsivity.
Now that I can look back with a fresh perspective, though, I'm able to recognize that deleting all of my social connections and being forced to start over was one of the best things I could have done. Prior to the purge, I became complacent in my business. I had a large following. I had the credibility. It was comfortable. Too comfortable. I needed to be challenged.
So, fast forward 3 months: Here I am. A self-employed designer who's been running her business for 8 years and has a whopping 22 followers on Instagram.
Humbling. Very humbling.
But not discouraging. Empowering, actually...because where I now lacked in followers, I made up for in determination. I suddenly had a new drive within my business that focused less on building a following and more on building friendships. I began to appreciate those 22 followers on my Instagram as my people. They didn't follow me because I had celeb status statistics. They didn't need me to prove myself in numbers and strategy. They followed me because they believe in my work. As a creative, that truly means the world.
I know I'm not the only one dealing with the intimidation factor of starting fresh, and - since I have the advantage of having done it before - I'm approaching this renewal with a different set of goals for what I hope to accomplish in my business. Some of these tips might feel a bit counterintuitive, but in my experience, the most effective things usually do. Here's a breakdown of my strategies (or lack thereof) moving forward.
1.) Set quantitative goals instead of qualitative goals. In other words, focus on inspiring and providing value rather than meeting an arbitrary quota. For example, instead of getting 100 new followers, make one new friend. Instead of posting 5 times on Instagram, create one post that really serves someone. Focus on developing the soul of you brand. The rest will follow.
2.) Don't do your research. It's common to browse through sites of others in your industry to find inspiration. In my experience, though, that quest for inspiration often leads to comparison, discouragement, and procrastination. Instead, I encourage you to stay in your lane. Stay true to the vision you have in your heart for your brand. Design. Develop. Modify as needed. It doesn't need to be perfect in the beginning, it just has to be authentically you.
3.) Ask for help. I'm stubbornly independent, so asking friends for referrals is totally outside of my comfort zone. I realized, though, that in order to reach the people I wanted to reach - I needed to grab a big old slice of humble pie and accept that I can't do it alone. None of us can. We all need each other. The best part is, friends like helping friends. Find a support system of encouraging, like-minded people and allow yourself to accept their help. It doesn't make you less of a business owner. It makes you more of a human.
BONUS TIP: Do what you love and love what you do.
Have you faced any challenges in starting your business from scratch? What's been the most difficult part for you?