What does starting a business really look like? Is it all pyjamas, brunches, and clients knocking your door down demanding to give you money?
Hmmm, well, having got two months into this business, I’m going to use a little analogy.
You are standing blindfold at the start of a labyrinth holding a map written in Ancient Greek (which you can’t see anyway due to the blindfold).
The people outside are telling you not to go in.
“Just take the blindfold off and go back to the straight road you’ve always been on” they shout. (I’m imagining them wearing togas for some reason, just continuing the very tenuous Ancient Greece/labyrinth metaphor).
“F*ck it,” you think. “I’m going in any way”.
And so you take the first steps forward and immediately get lost, rebounding off walls, turning one way, then the next, deeper into the labyrinth like a drunken zombie.
You have no idea whether there is actually a way out of this labyrinth, you may just end up back where you started.
But, you decide to try anyway.
Why it took me nearly a year to start this blog
I actually stood at the beginning of the business ‘labyrinth’ last June. Having quit my corporate job in May, I had a vague notion that I wanted to start a blog.
I kept entering the labyrinth and then turning around and running back out again (to watch Netflix but they didn’t have that in Ancient Greece so the equivalent was probably watching some brutal sports event involving leopards).
I had such a fear of the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybe’s that I just couldn’t even get started.
Having done some consultancy roles (between quitting and properly starting this blog), in December I finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to get on with it.
How I finally started and how you can make the decision to start your business too
It really was a ‘mindset‘ thing that was preventing me from starting.
Once I decided to go ‘all-in’ I went for it.
That’s not to say everything has smoothly fallen into place. I get a lot of things wrong and it involves trial and error but the point is, I’ve made the commitment to myself so I just keep going.
Make a commitment to start
There has to be a point where you decided to go for it. Come hell or high water, you are going to go at this thing like a bull at a gate until it works.
It really doesn’t matter what the catalyst is (a quote on Instagram, an off-the-cuff comment from someone, or the thought of you sitting in your nursing home rocking chair in 50 years regretting that you never had your own business).
You just need to decide to ‘go all in’.
Invest in the business
This doesn’t have to be monetary, you could be investing in your business with your time.
The thing that got me started was to invest in a course on setting up a blog. I am not techy and hadn’t written for years so setting up a blog on an actual website was incredibly daunting.
After a lot of hunting around and research, I decided on the Launch Your Blog course (this is my affiliate link) by Create and Go.
The investment was low $97/£64 (ish), and I knew it would get me started as there were step-by-step lessons to follow so I would at least have a rope to follow down the labyrinth (okay, enough with the dodgy Greek analogies now!).
As I said, the investment doesn’t have to involve money, but it needs to involve a commitment of some kind.
Take the time to look after yourself
If you’ve had the job from Hades (really? I thought we agreed to bin the Greek thing?), you are going to need a break after you leave.
Make sure you have an ‘escape fund’ when you leave so that you can take the time for a little ‘self-care’ (as everyone seems to be calling it on Pinterest).
Whether this is sleep, drawing, writing, going to the cinema, or whatever makes you happy. Just make sure you take the time for yourself.
It’s very easy to underestimate the impact long hours in a stressful job have on your mind and body.
Although the below post is about boosting your confidence while still in a job, the points are very relevant no matter whether you are in a job or starting a business.
Know it isn’t a linear thing
If you think that starting your business has to mean you have all the answers, you will never start.
I actually started a personal finance blog, and then after setting up the entire website, writing around 10 posts and investing a huge amount of time in it, I decided to change the blog to IWMLBproject and scrapped most of what I had already done.
If you have an idea of what business you want to start, just begin, and see where it leads you.
There is a very interesting podcast called How I built it by Guy Raz. He interviews the founders of huge brands like Kate Spade and Dermalogica about their journey and how they started.
Without exception, each brand started off as something else.
Kate Spade started as handbags and then branched into accessories, clothes, and shoes. Dermalogica started off as a skin care training academy and then into making skin care products.
Don’t try and second guess everything before you start, just let it flow naturally.
Okay, so how about some actual metrics?
Although your business may not be a blog, you will still need to track your progress.
I have been tracking since the beginning of March as this is when I officially ‘went for it’.
If you aren’t interested in these metrics, that’s cool. You can hop back to the blog and have a read of some other stuff.
“There ain’t no business without customers” someone famous probably said.
I am not trying to make money at the moment (apart from some affiliate links of useful things I have used) as I want to focus on providing value for women that desperately want ‘their lives back’.
A measure of the value I am providing is through the visitors to the site and how many pages on average they look at.
As you can see below, my traffic is steadily growing month on month. Although my visitor numbers are small, the trajectory is up, which can only be a good thing!
My average views per visitor are between 2 and 3 which I am quite happy with at the moment as I don’t have a huge amount of posts.
I have social media profiles for all of the below but I am only focusing on Pinterest with a bit of Facebook thrown in at the moment.
- Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/IWMLBproject/
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IWMLBProject/
- Twitter https://twitter.com/IWMLBproject
- Instagram https://www.instagram.com/iwmlbproject/
For Pinterest, I am using Tailwind (affiliate link) to schedule my pins.
Interestingly most activity on my Pinterest boards is between 1am and 3am – I know this as Tailwind has a Smart Schedule which shows you the best times to pin.
68% of my views are from the UK (I live in London, UK) with 15% from the US. However, from the Tailwind pin time suggestions, it looks like more of my Pinterest followers are from the US.
This is also reflected in my referral traffic stats (where my traffic comes from, I can see this in WordPress through the Jetpack plugin)
15% of my traffic is coming from Pinterest.com whereas I only have 1% of traffic from Pinterest.co.uk (not shown in the table above).
Some of my posts have been quite hit and miss, below are the top 4 which are getting the most traffic and views on social media.
- 18 glaring signs you are ready to quit your job
- 44 free tools to start an online business with no money
- 12 honest insights from quitting my job with no plan
- 22 ways to simplify your life to make time for your business
My plan is to go back over posts which aren’t great (some of my first ones are awful) and update them and create new pins.
If they still aren’t popular then they are officially crap and we can all move on.
I have done a series of blog posts called Real Women Real Business which are interviews with women like you and me who have quit their corporate jobs and started a business.
We see so many success stories from women like Marie Forleo and Ariella Huffington (Huffington Post) but this can seem very intimidating when you are just starting out.
I wanted to interview everyday women who had made a success of their business. It’s good to read about success stories of ‘normal’ people doing ‘normal’ things.
It was awesome interviewing everyone who volunteered to be part of the series, it made me realise that I love the human connection rather than just sitting in front of the computer typing till my fingers hurt!
Click the links below to read the interviews 🙂
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. Comedian, Writer, and Director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 4: Monika Wawrzyczek. Mystique Lash Salon, and Academy
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
- Interview 6: Georgia Gallone: Digital Marketing Consultant (and app founder)
Traffic is growing steadily but not fast enough for my liking (impatient, moi?)
Not being able to do everything as fast as I want (again, with the impatience).
I have had to break things down into month ‘chunks’ and focusing on sticking to that month’s task only. It’s annoying as I want to get on with guest posting etc but this is Pinterest Month, so Pinterest it will be!
I have recently bought an ebook on creating a ‘Dream Year‘ by Natalie Bacon. The title is a little fluffy but I like the concept of breaking down my overall goal into a year, month and weekly focus and creating the right mindset to achieve them.
I am using the ebook and the attached workbooks to see if they are something I want to incorporate into my regular routine.
Make IWMLBproject the number one resource for corporate women in their thirties who want to get their life back.
Year one goal
Get 5,000 subscribers on my email list. That way I know I have provided great value through the blog posts and website.
I will also then have a great group of people to build a community with and understand what the biggest struggles and frustrations are.
June Month Goal
- Master Pinterest and Tailwind to gain another 10 subscribers
- Get email opt-ins and email sequences done (so subscribers can learn more about IWMLBproject and how it can help them once they have signed up
- Make website GDPR compliant (gah!)
- Make time for myself (man, I am crap at this one)
- Trial a morning routine of writing down my tasks and intentions for the day and evaluating at the end of the day
I will aim to write one of these posts a month if you find them interesting. If you don’t then I will write them for myself in secret *sobs*. Ha! It’s definitely wise to track your own business but I appreciate not everyone wants to read about 😉
Did you enjoy this post? What could I do to make it better or more relevant to you?