Do Know What Makes you Different
I don’t believe in competing on price alone. If someone can sell it for less than you, they probably will. And do you really want a customer who chooses you simply based on price? Probably not. Take time to understand what unique value your company can provide. Craft it into a meaningful slogan and shout it from the rooftops.
Do “Quit your Day Job”
When I knew I wanted to quit my job, but didn’t know if I was ready to quit my mom gave me the best advice. “Pick the date you’re going to quit. Put a big X on your calendar. Then work backwards.”
It sounds so simple, but it really made sense. Likely you can see yourself quitting your day job.
You know how much money you need to have in the bank, what you’d like to be making by then, etc. Now ask yourself, “What do I need to do right before that?” And right before that?
Do get Business Cards Made
There is something that feels really “official” about having your own business cards. You may be eager to get yours made, and you should be. But before you do… consider your overall image. Decide what images and colors you want to be associated with your company. Have a logo designed. And be sure that your contact info will stay accurate. You may want to reserve a domain name, set up a business email address, and get a new phone number and/or Post Office box first.
Do Charge What You’re Worth
No, initially you may not feel justified in charging what others with more experience do, but don’t charge what a hobbyist would either. Charge what you’re worth. Remember, people believe they usually get what they pay for. Undercharging benefits no one.
Don’t Say No
If you’re asked to take on a project that’s just outside the scope of what you’ve done before, don’t say no. A good challenge is a great teacher. And don’t say no to events, either. View annual meetings, business after hours, customer appreciation days, trade shows, and anything else you’re invited to as an opportunity to network.
Say yes to “getting a cup of coffee” with those in your industry, those you might like to have as a client, or anyone who may provide a service to your business. Word of mouth is still the best advertising and strong personal relationships mean a lot more than you think.
Do Say No
Say no to projects that make you uncomfortable. If asked to work on something that you don’t agree with morally, politically, or spiritually – just say no. Taking on anything that’s overly controversial may alienate you from potential clients and doing something you don’t believe in just doesn’t feel good.
Do Measure Everything
The only way you know if you’re improving or succeeding is my measuring. Meet with an accountant. Meet with a financial advisor. And maybe even an attorney. They’ll help you know how to track things. An accounting program can be helpful. Or use Excel, if you’re comfortable with it. I record and graph everything: hours worked, invoices sent, money received, sales goals, expense budgets – the list goes on and on.
Do Dress the Part
Maybe you remember the Allen Edmonds shoe commercials, “either you’re making it or you’re faking it.” When you own your own business everyday is like a job interview. You need to show up with your best suit, a firm handshake, and a performance to sell yourself. Wear nice clothes.
Don’t Buy a New Car
Yes, I just told you to look the part. But a car is more of an investment than a suit. And cars are generally not “good investments.” And just because you have a few good months or a good year – that doesn’t mean that you can afford that fancy new car. Save up for when times are tough. Because there will be tough times.
Don’t Ever Give Up
People ask me what motivates me to work. I work from home with a small child underfoot (or on my lap). I’m asked everything, Do you really work? Do you work in your pajamas? How much does your spouse make? What motivates you, aren’t you distracted being at home?
Answers to those questions might change, but one constant is… my mortgage payment. To be honest, it is one of my single, biggest motivators. And I’m very proud to say I haven’t missed a payment yet.