The Untold Truths of Entrepreneurship Part I of II
I've been an entrepreneur for almost three years and there is a lot that I was unprepared for at the start of this journey. When I talk to others in my field, I notice we share commonalities. We chose entrepreneurship for a variety of reasons: some weren't getting what they wanted from working at a company, while others wanted more wiggle room in their schedule. One of the more popular reasons is the potential for unlimited earnings. I've also heard it's the allure of being your own boss and controlling your responsibilities and the business. Whatever appealed to you in entrepreneurship ultimately was the crowned jewel, but what may have gone unaccounted for was the hidden terms and conditions.
Disclaimer: there's a laundry list of untold truths that we will explore in this two part series, so lets start slow, shall we?
I created Career Kay llc because when I entered Corporate America I noticed how hilariously unprepared I was for professional adult situations with my colleagues. My education was impressive, graduating from prestigious primary and secondary institutions with a high GPA, yet no one had ever trained me how to hold a proper conversation with a District Vice President, or what to wear at an off-site company event. I had been working since the age of 16, yet here I was a college grad still trying to Google "what topics to talk about during break".
My original intentions for Career Kay llc were to be resource for young professionals for business etiquette coaching. So, what did I do? I got my LLC, bought a domain and established an online presence - boom, you're in business baby! Well, not really. Just because you pay for a business entity, doesn't mean you are actually generating any income, or that anyone knows who you are.
Untold Truth #1: You need marketing experience (or will learn it) when you launch. Marketing your business is how people find out who you are. No marketing = no customers = no revenue. In fact, I'll go as far to say you need an entire marketing plan... which for those with no experience means you'll probably fumble through this as you learn. To begin building your audience and customer base, you should determine what you have to sell and how you expect to get this product to them. Then, you'll need to establish your target customer. Like really write out who you are marketing too. For example, if you're opening an art supply store, your target customer could be Lysa, a 36 year old single woman, eclectic style with one child. She's into fitness and works part-time. She comes into the store during the day and likes to oil paint landscape scenes on canvas. She drives a hybrid SUV, and as a working single mom, needs budget friendly deals and weekly coupons. Seeing this detail in your customer will help narrow down how to tailor your marketing strategy and graphics - I figured this out about ten months ago.
Untold Truth #2: Elevation Requires Separation. Okay so I wrote an entire post about this, which you can read here, but this needs to be reiterated. As your business develops, your network grows and your brand broadens - this means you will naturally elevate, both professionally and personally. This is a good thing. The consequence of this is some relationships will not grow with you. This is separation and it's natural. It may also hurt - some of these relationships will be familial, others will be platonic. It may not necessarily be hostile, but it's about recognizing that people grow and mature at different rates. Just because you are reaching your goals, doesn't mean your childhood bestie is doing the same. Or, maybe you're the childhood bestie that seems to be stuck in a stagnant cycle. If you notice your friends are all moving forward and you're the only one comfortable with being complacent, they may begin to distance themselves. Try to remember this action is less of a falling apart and more of a protection of peace.
Untold Truth #3: Everybody "Knows" What's Best For You. Similar to all other major decisions in your life, when you jump into starting a business, those around you will start shoving advice into your ears by the pound. You can't control what people say, but you can set boundaries and decide what you accept as fact or fiction. My general rule of reason is don't take advice from people who haven't successfully taken the journey. For example, don't let your single (or divorced) friends tell you how to thrive in a long happy marriage. Another one (shoutout DJ Khaled) don't follow the footsteps of entrepreneurs who businesses failed in the first couple of years. It's harsh, I know, but you want mentors who figured out how to navigate through struggle, consistently. In simple terms, only follow those who laid the groundwork for your path. On the flip side, don't give out advice to people when you have no prior experience. Stay in your lane young grasshopper.
Untold Truth #4: You May Fund the Business Yourself. When I first started my business I was so excited to hear of all of the grants and loan opportunities available for new entrepreneurs, including female and/or minorities! Wow... look at all of these potential funding possibilities. womp womp womp. Let's be honest. Yes - there are funding options out there, so I am not going to be a Deborah Downer, but the likelihood of the average person winning a grant is super slim. You can definitely get a business loan (assuming you have good credit and collateral), however considering most entrepreneurs are sitting in the working middle class when they start out, who the h-e-double hockey sticks wants to add $10k+ of debt onto their name? Most of us continue working our 9-5 so we can fund our businesses in hopes that one day we can say... excuse my blunt lingo here but, "F**k You, F**k You, You're Cool, F**k You" (click the link for the full reference) and quit the workplace madness for good. Be prepared to use your tax refund, savings accounts and/or credit cards for start up costs and miscellaneous fees as you get your business rolling.
Untold Truth #5: Consistency Makes a Difference. This is a simple truth that should be common sense, but it's not. Here's a transparency moment: the entire first year of my business I did nothing but post on my @CareerKay Instagram account. I did not target market, I barely wrote on my blog, and I had one client... it was pathetic. I wasted a year of networking, potential speaking engagements, website design, policy creation, etc. I was inconsistent in posting on my Instagram page, and treated my business like a hobby, so my revenue reflected that. I made $99 for the entire year. In 2019, I switched gears and actually started making connections, developed a real brand, and tripled my revenue. I know we aren't talking millions, but the change was due to consistency - I showed up for my clients, created email campaigns, expanded my marketing plan and finally said "hey world, let me tell you about Career Kay llc". The moment you decide to be consistent in your business, just give yourself a year. I bet you'll see a major difference.
As you can see, when you jump into entrepreneurship you are embarking on an exciting adventure that takes courage and determination. You can research an idea, create a plan and stick your toe into the depths of Boss Life and there still maybe a plethora of surprises that arise. The beauty is, these nuances are learning opportunities. In our next segment, we'll discuss the Untold Truth of Entrepreneurship in a Relationship - whew!