My company, Egg Marketing, celebrated its 7th birthday this summer. Every year, I’m grateful to have another year of doing what I love. In looking back, I think I’ve learned a few things about entrepreneurship. Maybe sharing what I’ve learned will help you as a small business owner, whether you’re starting a business or a seasoned pro.
1. “Find Your Niche” isn’t an Empty Suggestion. Despite the fact that I regularly blog about zeroing in on a handful of products or services, it took me a while to learn this lesson. But I realized about three years ago that I was doing a lot…and some of it not so well. It’s tempting to take on new streams of income when the opportunity arises, but if you can’t give it your all, you’re really not helping your company’s reputation. That’s why we’ve gotten out of pitching news to journalists. It’s challenging for agencies who work with bigger budget clients than we do, so trying to convince journalists to write about clients on small business budgets just wasn’t a value add for us.
2. Never Stop Marketing. I’m majorly guilty of NOT doing this. When we’re flush with work, I don’t look for more. But when things are slow, I’ve tended to scramble to find more projects. This summer, we saw the first slow season we’d seen in five years. I wasn’t prepared. Next time, I will be.
3. Don’t Insulate Yourself. I write. All day. So it’s a hardship for me to surface and see what’s going on in the online world. But when I read great blog posts and social updates, I get inspired. So it’s actually beneficial for me to make the effort to connect with the rest of the digital world.
4. Have Systems in Place. I used to waste a ton of time invoicing clients throughout the month, until I set up twice-monthly billing. I’ve also polished my client intake process so it’s not so sloppy. The more places I set up systems to make things run more smoothly, the more time I have to dedicate to other tasks.
5. Take Advantage of Smart Technology. This is coming from the girl who balked at the idea of setting up a blog in 2006! Whenever I find a new tech tool that will help me, I set aside time to really learn it. I’m now using Insightly for contact management, Google Docs for all client work, and Basecamp to manage staff and projects. There are so many free tools available!
6. Legalize Your Business and Protect Your Ass(ets). I dragged my feet and stayed a sole proprietor for 6 years, but in January I bit the bullet and became an S Corp (thanks, CorpNet!). I prefer paying my payroll taxes throughout the year and paying myself a salary to simplify my taxes.
7. Keep Innovating. I never would have thought I’d be running my own company for this long, but now that I have momentum, I realize I could do this — if I wanted — until I retired. I’m willing to change the way Egg is shaped as needed down the road, and will be flexible. You have to when you make your living on social media sites that might not be around in a few years!
What lessons can you share with other readers about your journey as an entrepreneur? What one piece of advice would you offer up?