Hello my fellow Prozac and No-Doz popping peers, aka my fellow entrepreneurs! For me building a business has done more harm to my stomach than it’s helped my bank account, but gosh is it an exciting process once you get started! Especially if you are in that just starting out phase and still on a fairly regular sleep schedule. For those that are new to running your own business and have not filled out a 1099 tax form, here’s the first tip of the day: Hire an accountant. You’ll have my money when I send it you greedy IRS boogers, also the check is in the mail please don’t arrest me!
What are some other tips you may ask? I have seven actually that all revolve around eliminating at least some small measure of risk. Before we start though you should know that for me I always viewed entrepreneurship or being a business owner as something unnecessarily risky, like getting permanent eye makeup done. I mean what happens if the woman sneezes midway through, and I end up with a three-inch long cat eye?! We’ve all seen that 80-year-old woman at Walmart still rocking that look from the 70’s and Jesus knows, we all judge her cosmetic (and let’s be honest) life choices.
Seemingly irrelevant fears aside I once read or heard or dreamed or got drunk and made up something once that stuck with me, and convinced me to go outside of my comfort and take a gamble on me. It went something like: You have the same possibility of being fired at least once in your life as going out of business. The difference is that as an entrepreneur you are the one in control. So even with its ambiguous origins aside, the statement above, is true. The business I work for could go out of business. The building could burn down. My boss could decide that he doesn’t care for my unnaturally long sneeze-induced cat eyes and let me go that day.
A full-time job is not a guaranteed elimination of risk, and after so many years in the stuck in the same position you were hired into many of us feel like a pet store hamster on a bright orange plastic wheel. It looks colorful and pretty on the outside, but inside it smells like yesterday’s pellets and your toddler owner’s Brussel sprouts that they never ate for dinner last night. So now twenty some years into my career and just as broke as when I graduated from college I chose to start relying on myself and built my own brand, Five Cents Matter. From that experience I hope to help you also make like an escaped rodent with an overbite and leave the proverbial wheel with a mission in mind, creating your own wealth and legacy. Here is how to get started.
1. Get tired. To me, an entrepreneur is someone who simply got tired of waiting, and there’s your first step. You have to have a fire in you, and that comes from an I’ve-had-it-moment that helps light a fire under that Zumba shaped behind. You need to hold on to that moment because you are about to enter into a new level of frustration, and you’ll need that momentum to propel you into some new and scary territory. How tired do you have to be? I mean if you haven’t reached the point where you wake up at 2 am covered in breastmilk with a bossy meatloaf of a newborn screaming next to you, and think hmmm… “I wonder what my font my logo should have” you may not be quite there yet. That’s okay, but you have to start somewhere, and sometimes the best place to start is just with your butt in a chair reading (congrats reading a blog in your ex-boyfriend’s Three Doors Down t-shirt still counts!) and learning as much as you can about your chosen field.
2. Build a website. Now for your business, a website may not be required, but for me though it was a key step. I personally built my website via Vista Print and for $60 some bucks I was able to play around with that I wanted my logo to look like, decide and then change my mind about what information I wanted to start sharing, keep links to all my social media platforms in a singular location, and provide a central reference point for my audience to visit. Your customer may not be on Instagram, but they could be on Pinterest. You need to be accessible to everyone.
3. Let everyone know what you’re doing. When I created my Five Cents Matter Facebook page I invited all my friends and family to ‘like’ the page. Out of that invite and some social and familial guilt, I had my first 50 followers!
4. Google it. You can call us a lot of things, but growing up in the age of the internet has the ensured one thing, our generation isn’t stupid. Each of already knows something and the internet can teach us what we may not know. There is so much information out there, and most of it is legit though heads up, you cannot charge your iPhone by microwaving it. Don’t let the crazy stuff scare you away though, with all the resources available out there you don’t have to hire someone to design your website. You can do it yourself when you’re just starting out because well let’s face it you are just starting out and you’re broke. All you have to do is research whatever it is, and then create it. Fast forward through a lot of tears and Target white wine, and today I have a brand and a website I created entirely on my own.
5. Apply what you already know, and work with what you’ve got. I took the two decades I spent working for “the man” to help get me started because I had to make myself learn something I thought already knew about: Business. I have a Master’s degree and twenty years of work experience so I can run a brand right? Ha! I figured out pretty much from the first day that I didn’t have a darn clue what I was doing because all of my work experience was from working in established businesses. Like cooking, making something from scratch is a whole new emotional and physically scarring experience.
6. Time is short, work with what you got. When you Google Five Cents Matter you will notice that we have a small presence and la la la excuses okay I am super small! We all are when we’re starting out, but you have to start somewhere! Five Cents Matter and your brand will succeed or piddle out with just your mom on your Facebook page because of you, and the amount of time you give your business. I don’t know about you, but after work, kids, and the occasional white wine fueled Friends binge marathon I don’t have a lot of time to give FCM, and for now, that is okay. For where I am right now my time is short and since FCM does not replace my full-time income it’s not economically feasible for it to be the priority in my life. Growing for me is a marathon and not a sprint. If I consistently work on growing the business and commit to learning more about entrepreneurship along the way, I know FCM will grow. It may be at a slow pace, but that is where I am right now in life. The more it grows and the more money it makes the more time I can give it. So make yourself invest in your project, even if you don’t have much to time to invest.
7. But… I also accepted that success might take years… or come at all. With any entrepreneurial adventure comes the chance that it might not be successful. So when my subscriber count on YouTube has not changed I know it is because I am doing something wrong. All I need to do at that point is figure out what it is and then fix it. I know that may sound oversimplified, but I’m not lazy. You really can’t be if you’re going into business. If something is going wrong, well don’t do that again.
That’s it! Hopefully, this is helpful to you and will help build your own brand/business. Maybe I just babbled incessantly, and you are no longer reading (in which case you should know that I judge you for still wearing your ex-boyfriend’s shirt, move on already). Either way, I wish you well. Growing my business and platform has been one of the most exciting and self-satisfying times of my life, and I can’t wait to see what you and I get to create and share with the world.
Guest Blog by Sara Coldiron
Sara Coldiron is a writer and YouTuber who currently resides in Suburb, USA. When she’s not working or shuttling her kids around in a vehicle large enough to pull the Challenger spacecraft she works on her brand Five Cents Matter which exists to empower and teach others to take control of their lives through a suck-it-up-cupcake approach. You can find her on her YouTube channel and occasional Instagram post.