Most of the people I know, didn’t get into business because they went to school to be an entrepreneur.
They fell into it one way or another. They had a passion, a purpose a path they felt compelled to follow.
For me, I went to school to work in Advertising. I quickly learned that helping huge corporations make more money wasn’t what I had dreamed of doing. I was still passionate about brands, but I felt compelled to help smaller brands through design.
That’s why I started my studio, in starting this studio I quickly learned there was a lot I didn’t know about running a business.
1 | Sales
I did not go to school for sales.
I didn’t know how to sell myself, how to find clients or how to make myself stand out in a crowd.
I knew how to position a product and brand a company, but I didn’t know how to write an elevator pitch about myself and my services. I didn’t know how to make my services unique. I didn’t know how to approach a stranger and ask them to hire me.
To combat this, I purchased Rachel Hollis’ Business Coaching.
This taught me how to do the math on sales, how to talk about my services with confidence and how to make sure I’m running a business instead of a hobby.
2 | Client Management
When you go to college, they just assume you will work for someone else.
Honestly, when I was in college, I never considered owning a business. The thought never crossed my mind. I didn’t grow up believing owning a business was even an option. I was taught you go to college and you get a job. The end.
Because of that, college doesn’t teach you how to manage clients. There isn’t a class on client expectations and boundaries, client management software, how to streamline your processes. Nothing.
What helped me was reading the blog’s of freelancers and business owners who had gone before me. Learning what worked for them and trying to apply that to my business and my process.
3 | Services
In college, I learned the word niche. But, it was never applied to me, it was applied to companies like Target and Nike.
So, when I finally took the leap into freelancing, I designed anything and everything. I just wanted to work, I didn’t think it mattered what work I did.
Soon, I learned designing printables, illustrations, logos and flyers wasn’t getting me work. It was getting me and everyone else confused about what I did and who I did it for.
So, I decided to take my own advice and get serious about what type of business I wanted. I finally filled out the brand questionnaire I give to all of my clients and honed in on what type of services I wanted to offer.
4 | Pricing
School definitely never taught me how to price my services.
Now, I’m a believer of paying your dues and working for next to nothing when you get started. But, I did that for longer than I should have and I still struggle with pricing my services.
I’ve finally found a system that works for me, but it took a lot of time and a lot of working long hours and making chump change as a result.
I recommend doing your research.
Figure out what you need to survive, what your business expenses will be, how much you need for taxes and then add your value.
It’s not easy coming up with these numbers, but it’s a lot harder flying in blind to tax season and paying more than you saved.
5 | Emotional Toll
My college never talked about the emotional toll that a creative career can have on you.
There’s burnout, hurt feelings, ego, stress and anxiety that come into your work. Especially when that work is your livelihood.
In business, there isn’t a backup plan. If a client falls through, if you need make a mistake and have to pay for it… you’re the boss and you’re responsible for it.
One of the things that have helped me manage the emotional roller coaster of business is this.
Remove email from your phone. When you log-off for the day, be done for the day.
Creative outlets outside of my job. More on this here.
Deciding the clients needs trump your opinions, feelings and sometimes even your expertise.
What do you think? Did I miss anything you had to learn the hard way? Let me know in the comments!