Tips for New Entrepreneurs

    It's a conversation that can be forever considered incomplete, but only because no matter how many people you talk to, you'll always hear differing advice and will need to constantly educate and develop yourself and your methods. Yet as 2022 marks my 4th year in business, and I can certainly say I learned a lot over the past year (much like with previous years), I figured I'd take this opportunity to share the most important lessons that I've learned to date in developing my own business. So, without further ado, let's dive into some points I want to share!

   Regardless of the type of business you wish you create, you must always start with a clear goal and understanding of WHY you're offering the very things that you're offering. Since I had a knack for working in small business when I was employed in more recent years, I can tell you that the businesses that weren't crystal clear on this, and of which didn't take a personal interest or have an innate passion for what they were offering, were the ones that ended up folding and closing.

  As someone that turned to a personal purpose and cause to be the backbone for my business, I can tell you that knowing this much about myself was the reason I didn't give up during the tough times. This is just one primary reason why this point is essential, but it's also because your customers will be able to see that your passion is what sets you apart from everyone else. You have to be prepared to persevere in order to make it big, which leads me into my next point...

   I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again - unless you have a ton of cash to come out the gate having your name plastered everywhere, or already have a whole bandwagon of people promoting you, it takes time and determination to grow. This was why I worked part-time and temp jobs during my first couple of years in business, and why I've spent the better part of ALL of my downtime taking courses to not only further train myself (in my field), but to also continuously develop my business.

  I had to start by offering free sessions to not only gain experience & confidence, but to gain my first couple of testimonials. I continuously spend time on building connections with other businesses to network and gain referrals, I continuously devote funds to various forms of advertising (let's face it: social media is only one method!), and I accepted new opportunities that came my way for experience and exposure (which for me, has turned into becoming an Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine, as well as mentoring for the High Priestess Ascension Academy). There's no opportunity worth saying "no" to because you never know where it's going to lead you in the future and that adds to your expertise!

Regardless of all the seriousness, it honestly helps to make your processes as fun as possible!
Everything you do will come more naturally if you don't feel like you're overworking it to make to make it work.
This is just another tip that applies to anything and everything that I have to share here.

   But there's also the reality in accepting that you need constant advice and feedback to develop your business as time goes on. As much as I hated that idea that I would spend more than I'd bring in during my first couple of years, I had to accept that that's actually considered "the norm" for most businesses. While customer surveys & feedback should be the way to shape your offerings, there's also professional advice that is worth taking.

  I've utilized many professionals for mentoring & training on marketing/advertising, branding, and more, and have taken small business development programs such as the Starter Company Plus program. Little did I know how important it was to create a Business Plan, Cash Flow, Client Profile (market research), and utilize SWOT Analysis on my competitors to further shape my business... but it just goes to show how little I knew even though I went into year #2 under the guidance & mentoring of a successful professional that was established in my field. Feedback of any kind is one of the best gifts you can receive, so always seek it and be open to it!

  There's also the very reminder and understanding that you absolutely cannot compare yourself to anyone else, especially as you seek to make your mark in this world. Through trial and error, I realized how I actually couldn't rely on the online world and social media alone to get my name out there. There's thousands of others that are fighting for the same spot that you're fighting for, so it doesn't always work to put all your eggs in one basket and expect it to pay off. And let's face it: It never looks good to slam your competition in any way, no matter what your reasons. I may have taken to highlighting my uniqueness, but I never compare it to others; and I also don't spend my time & energy "lurking" others in my field.

  Since moving to a rural area, I've found that more and more people (locally) aren't even on social media, because a lot of them barely use the internet at all - so print advertising and word of mouth was actually my #1 way of establishing myself in this area. It's harder to find your crowd on social media, so it CAN'T be your only avenue. And numbers mean nothing in many situations... so comparing yourself to someone that has 10x your amount of followers doesn't always mean that they are more successful than you are. Just network, stay focused on yourself, don't look at numbers, and don't compare yourself to competition -- I learned this by watching colleagues who had more followers than me completely give up on their business because "no one was buying", and by finding out through professional networks that the people who appeared more successful than me actually had the exact same income levels & struggles that I had.

It seems so simple, and perhaps so meaningless, but little things like this (some of my SWAG pictured) can go a long way! As I started focusing on more in-person connections with others to grow my business, more doors started opening.. It's just another amazing lesson considering how I had spent so much time and energy
focusing on online connections that took 10 times as long to pay off.

   Last but not least, I've learned that you have to take everything with a grain of salt while remaining true to your values. This isn't to say that you should ignore feedback or get defensive about advice, but that you need to take the principle behind it all objectively and apply it in a way that works for you. This talking point reminds me of the various different ways that I've been told to use social media... but in the end, I took everything from everybody, and used it in a way that worked for me. When one method proved to work, I stuck with it... and because no one else actually knows the trials I took to get there, I know that those certain methods are something I won't budge on.

  When small town mentality had me reconsidering my prices all to appeal to lower incomes - but I realized that if I lowered my prices across the board, I wouldn't make enough to pay all my bills without needing additional work, and I knew I would feel undervalued operating at the same price that I charged back when I was a newbie that had a lot less training and experience - I found a middle ground wherein I only offer a lower price as an intro special for locals. Take it all in, give it further thought, but don't compromise on what you know to be true and what you need to do.

   In the end, there's a lot of trial & error and endless learning opportunities that you NEED to be open to in order to succeed. One of my mentors likes to say that "Rome wasn't built in a day" and it's true! Only through further business mentoring I realized that the only success is through remaining, because only time will tell. It's harder to get customers in the door when you're brand new because nobody knows (1) who you are, and (2) what to expect.. but by sticking around, doing the work, and getting your name out through advertising, networking, and other forms of exposure, people start to actually take notice to you. Don't give up, stay focused on your goals and the purpose driving your passion, and be ready to make the process fun while you actively seek and work on ways to further develop your business!

Ashley Tilson is a Holistic Trauma Recovery Specialist that helps victims of childhood abuse who are struggling with triggers and the inability to feel safely free and happy in their adult lives by breaking free from the past and healing their childhood self so they can begin to live the life they think they can only dream about!
Check out her 
website for more information.

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