5 things I've learned in the first three months of starting a business
So it has officially been three months since I introduced Group Fitness Training to the world and 2 months since I launched my first products. Time flies when you're having fun, eh? Launching a new business in the middle of a pandemic was always going to be a challenge. especially when the people my products are aimed at had no real use for them at that current time. Although some of my plans have been halted due the crisis, I've achieved a fair bit since May. So, what are the 5 biggest lessons I have taken away from these first few months in business?
1. You can’t expect to be an overnight sensation
It's very easy when starting a business to look around at other people's success and think "why isn't that happening to me?" Whether you are starting out as a new personal trainer and struggling to attract clients or launching an online coaching program, you can't ever expect to have millions of people lining up to buy your product or service from the get go. First, people need to know it exists before they can buy it. You need to work on building an audience online and work out a marketing plan to get yourself out there. You can't just put up one Facebook post and call it a day! Good things take time to build. The "overnight sensation" you are comparing yourself to probably had years of struggle behind the scenes before they made it.
2. There’s going to be a lot of people questioning you
Taking on business debt during a pandemic? Launching products for fitness instructors when gyms are shut? Chloe, are you crazy?!
Although I've had a tonne of support from friends and well wishers over the last few months, I've also had a few people question whether I know what I'm getting myself into. I'm sure there have been a lot more people who have also thought it and not said it to me. But, that's ok. When you decided to do your own thing, not everyone will understand. Not everybody is built to have their own ventures. Some people prefer to work a "normal" job, take their paycheck, clock out at the end of the day and use the money they earn to enjoy their life. Cool. That's what they want to do.
I don't ever want to do that. I want to be passionate about what I'm doing. I want to do things that will make a difference. So, people may question and doubt, but if you are convinced you are doing the right thing, that's all that matters.
3. Putting things out for the whole world to see and criticise is terrifying
Anybody that knows me personally will know I hate pictures of myself and I'm really not a fan of posting selfies on social media. I knew this had to change when launching my business. I had to be unaplogetic about what I was doing. At the end of the day, I know that the thing that sets me apart from my competitors is that I am a small, one woman business. I am my brand and the face of my business, so my face needed to be out there and my work needed to be up for criticism.
What did I discover? After the first few terrifying posts and videos, it wasn't that bad. I feel a lot more comfortable taking pictures for my social media now and talking in front of a camera is getting easier every time I do it. What you find terrifying to begin with will soon become less scary and one day you probably won't even think twice before doing it.
4. Consistency is king
The things I have learned over my fitness journey happen to be the same in my business journey so far. It's the actions that you take every day that contribute to your success. One bad meal isn't going to ruin your diet and making one mistake in business won't ruin what you've built so far. But binging for 2 weeks or ignoring your social media pages for a month may well hinder your progress. I've found that posting to socials every day has helped me gain traction. Even on the days I had nothing meaningful to say, I managed to share someone else's content or re-purpose something I had posted a few days previously. I've answered emails every single day. I've been developing products and messaging suppliers every single day. I've been making tweaks to my website every day. Without fail, I do something to benefit GFT on a daily basis and I don't plan to stop. These little actions over time will mount up to something bigger than the individual parts.
5. You will have to make sacrifices
Anything worth having is worth making sacrifices for. If you want to have a successful career, you have to put in the work. If you want to have a successful business or relationship, you have to keep working at it and potentially give up other things along the way. For me, right now, this means taking the decision to drop some classes that I taught before lockdown and accept a lower income to be able to scale GFT. Teaching 20+ classes a week is unsustainable and I know this. However, the prospect of having an extra couple of hundred pounds each month right now is really tempting. It is about looking at the bigger picture. In the long run, scaling this business could potentially give me a higher income than teaching 20 group fitness classes per week. I have to accept that sacrifice of a lower income now in order to hopefully make a higher income in the future.
I'm sure over the coming weeks and months I will learn more lessons and will look back at this post and think "wow, I had it so easy back then. If only I knew then what I know now!"
For anyone who is thinking of starting their own business, I hope this helped you. Those of you who have started a business or gone self-employed, what were the lessons your business taught you?