There are different stages of every business: the baby stage, where you’re just figuring things out and everything is super new and shiny and exciting (with all the exclamation marks!!!)
Then there’s the adolescence stage, where there’s a kind of coming of age that happens. Everything’s probably feeling really awkward, you’re learning new things, and you might be starting to scale and to put systems in place.
Then there’s the adult stage, where your systems are in place, you’re scaling, and your business is, for the most part, running on autopilot.
Each season comes with its own struggles and rewards, but the baby stage is where things can either go super right, or super wrong, and it’s really the season of your business that will set the foundation for years to come – so it’s important to get it right!
I’ve worked with hundreds of new businesses, either through the Pinegate Road agency or as a coach in the Aligned Business Academy, and there are three pieces of advice that I think are sooooo important to know as a new business owner:
I totally get why people want the bright and shiny things, like the business cards, and the website, and all these fun pieces that they think they need to have to look credible and legitimate. Especially as a Marketer, I get it, we want things to be polished, we want to put our best foot forward, but I see this happen with clients a lot where those things actually become barriers.
They’ve invested so much money and they haven’t even tried to see whether they like it, so one piece of advice we always tell our clients is to get to the work as fast as possible. Yes, we want everything to be this like perfect shiny something, but that maybe isn’t the answer though.
There’s a quote from Jen Sincero that I really love, and it goes: “Taking action leads to answers, mulling ideas around in your head forever leads to indecision and grouchiness.”
By focusing on the aesthetic pieces before you actually do the work and figure out what it is that you’re actually doing can lead to indecision because you’re deciding on a color palette before you even have an offering to give a client.
A lot of times it’s the clients that will tell you what they need, whether it’s a lower price point or a different set of offerings, and so it’s important to get down and do the work before trying to nail down the brand aesthetic. Your business should not be about you liking the color pink, it should be about what your audience needs and what solves their problem.
The sweet spot for creating a solid brand plan is not in the baby stage. The baby stage is for experimenting and finding what works for you, your business, and your customers. It’s super exciting to get caught up on branding strategy, and logos, and color palettes, and all of the things that make up a brand plan, but it could be a lot of wasted time and money if six months down the road you find that your brand is not working the way you had hoped it would.
This is why many designers and brand strategists will not even sit down with a brand new business until they have some experience under their belt and have the data and the trends to back up where they want to take their brand. The strategist will bring a ton of great value to your business, don’t get me wrong, but it’s your clients and getting into actually doing the work that is going to tell you in which direction your brand should be heading in.
Having said that, some agencies will offer strategy sessions that will help guide a new business in their branding with the intention that after they’ve bootstrapped for six months or a year and they’re ready for a full-on brand plan they can then invest the time and money into something that is more guaranteed to work out for them.
Your values are really the very core essence of who you are, what you stand for, and what you really want for your clients and your business. They are what will drive your business forward and will be your lifeline during hard times.
So get clear on them, write them down, remind yourself of them daily, and make sure that your employees are aware of them as well. Your business’ core values are what support the vision, the culture, and the decisions of your business, so make them count!
Being a business owner can be isolating. You don’t always know if you’re doing it right, it’s easy to lose momentum, and working by yourself can be lonely.
My best piece of advice? Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. If you’re a creative entrepreneur, consider going on artist dates and have fun creating content that is not all about client work. Make it less about monetization, and more about play.
Or, if you’re a coach, find other coaches that you can “talk shop” with and just hang out with and have a good time. Not only will you (hopefully) learn from each other, but you’ll also get that much-needed validation that you’re not alone in this crazy adventure of entrepreneurship.
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