By Leslie Barber, Small Business Advocate, Intuit QuickBooks
As we head into spring, many of us look back and realize we’ve neglected or de-prioritized our New Year’s business resolutions. Recently I’ve been heads down helping to build a community for small business owners and self-employed professionals like you and I called OWN IT. Every day, we work together to push our businesses forward, to make the best decisions we can and to learn from each other’s experiences.
I found that this time of year is a perfect time to do a check-in to refocus your business and personal goals. We all want to be the best entrepreneurs we can be, and that means learning from others’ mistakes and wins. Here are some of my favorite things I’ve heard and learned from entrepreneurs around the world – to inspire you to spring into action!
1. Set your morning ritual.
In my business, I often felt like I was standing behind a fire hose and couldn’t get away. Anyone else feel like that? When I joined QuickBooks, I noticed a lot of planning and goal setting going on. It felt like such a luxury to be able to take the time to think about what the next year or two would look like. I was used to panicking over tomorrow! There’s no reason big companies should have all the goal setting fun.
In OWN IT, we encourage The Morning Ritual – it’s a quiet moment each morning where you can write down ten goals (or even just one!) and add a target date. It’s so simple and yet sometimes so hard to find a moment to stop reacting and start proacting.
Freelance illustrator Sarah Clement has mastered her morning routine over the last year – from yoga to journaling to taking coffee to her desk. Telling your day what will transpire, instead of having it told to you, can ensure you keep moving forward.
2. Building the right team will propel you forward.
Small business owners are jacks (and jills) of all trades, masters of many! We do it all, from strategy to product to janitorial and everything in between. But we end up spreading ourselves too thin and often don’t do anything as well as we could. Owning up to what you are good at and enjoy doing vs. what someone else should handle is a tough lesson, but one that successful entrepreneurs must learn.
Vana Chupp at Le Papier Studio is grateful she learned that lesson: “I hear about so many people who’ve struggled because they try to take on too much. I stick to what I do best and outsource everything else.” Take the accounting, for example – at QuickBooks, we’ve learned that 89 percent of small business owners say they are more successful when working with an accountant. Build a dream team of people who love to do what you don’t – it’ll pay off in the end.
3. Don’t undervalue your service or product.
When you run a small business or are self-employed, you ARE the business. And that often means that we take everything very personally. Pricing your product or service can very often include much more than materials and labor. It can include your own self-worth. If you don’t think you’re really worthy of a price, you will low-ball. And what many business owners have found is if you don’t believe in yourself, others won’t either.
Benny Grotto from Mad Oak Studios found this out quickly after he launched. “If you don’t charge enough, people won’t take you seriously.” By setting his price in line with peers, despite having less experience, people believed he had what it took and gave him a chance.
Freelance writer Jemma Porter found the same, “It’s vital to not undervalue yourself. No one should be expected to write a page of content and only be paid in pennies. It might be tempting to do it for experience, but you have to take on a lot more work just to pay the rent.” Using a tool like TSheets can teach you how much time work takes. Don’t sell yourself short. Ever.
4. Getting from idea to conception can be the toughest part.
I remember when we came up with our idea but hadn’t launched, a friend asked me if I was afraid I would lose everything. Everything?! It froze me. I had to check in with myself on whether I believed her fear. Fortunately, my belief in our product outweighed the fear. But small moments like that can mean everything. How many of you have had an idea but gotten stuck, not sure what the next step is or whether you had what it takes? We all have. The key is getting unstuck and taking one leap forward.
Celeste Ruberti is a hairstylist with an idea for a hair care line. She did some research, and the feedback was very positive. And then one business consultant told her that there was little chance she could compete with the large companies. What?! That could have been the end. But Celeste chose not to agree and is now taking cosmetic chemistry courses to move her idea forward. Don’t let someone else hold the pen to your story.
Running a small business can be exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time! Learning from those who have done it before you or who are tackling the challenge now is one of the best ways to make better decisions for your business. It will lead you to more chance of success. I’m cheering for you!
Leslie Barber is the business leader for OWN IT, a community for small business owners hosted by Intuit QuickBooks. She’s passionate about fueling small business growth and is an entrepreneur herself as co-founder of NutraBella, the maker of Bellybar prenatal vitamins.