What’s Holding you back from taking the Leap into Entrepreneurship?
When I tell people the story of how I quit my corporate job and started a small dog walking business their usual response goes something like this:
“Wow, I wish I could do that but....”
• “I can’t afford to take the risk.”
• “There’re already so many business’s providing the service I want to in my area.”
• “It’s going to take too long to make money at it and build up clientele.”
• “I have no idea what I’m good at or passionate about enough to build a business out of.”
Before I made the leap, all of these concerns ran through my mind and I’m pretty sure that’s the case for most people thinking about starting a business. It’s scary, well terrifying actually, to leave a consistent pay cheque for the unknown and yes, it takes time to build up steady work. You also have to get comfortable with marketing and making connections with people and having uncomfortable conversations. I want you to know though, it’s completely possible to overcome these roadblocks that may be holding you back.
Here are some things I’ve learned over the past three years of starting a business, including a few key points I wish I knew sooner!
If you feel like you can’t afford to take the risk or you aren’t sure what type of business to start, do it on the side first! I’m sure you’ve all heard about side hustles by now and they’re no joke. This is a great way to find that secret talent or passion of yours and how to potential turn it into a full-time business. You can work on it in the evenings and on weekends and really get a feel if it’s something you would want to do full-time.
If you think the market is already saturated for your business idea, please reconsider! Find a niche, something that makes you and your business standout. When I started researching dog walking company’s in my area there were at least a dozen that popped up, kennels, doggy daycares and other dog walkers. However, I noticed that most of the dog walkers only offered in-town services and walks around the neighbourhood. I on the other hand wanted to offer trail hikes & walks in the forest. That was my niche, it set me apart from the other dog walking businesses and it totally worked. I also want to mention that even though there are plenty of other people offering similar services, there’s still an abundance of potential clients out there. It’s also very important to pick the clientele that you think is right for you, not everyone who’s seeking a dog walker will be the right fit for our pack. I may even recommend them to another business if I feel they are better suited with them. That may sound counter intuitive to growing a business but trust me, you’ll be much happier and more successful in the end when you know you will be able to meet & exceed your clients expectations!
Making difficult phone calls and having tough conversations. I know I’m not the only one who would much prefer to communicate over email, text message, carrier pigeon...really any other way then talking on the phone! I get nervous and think I’m going to say the wrong thing. But sometimes it just has to be done, so you better get use to it. Even if your dreading a conversation and are super nervous, this is how you build solid relationships and bring in new clients. Make these calls earlier in the day and get them done with. No use stressing about them for the entire day because they’re never actually as bad as what you think they might be.
Be firm when it comes to pricing! People WILL try to negotiate with you to get cheaper rates or discounts but do not, let me repeat that...DO NOT feel pressured to do this. I know you’ll want to you as you’re just starting out building your business and yes, the occasional discount or promotion is OK but please don’t under estimate yourself and the service you’re providing! Believe in yourself and know that you offer a top-notch service. You’ll ultimately gain the type of clients that respect you, your time and they’ll be happy to pay the going rate for a trustworthy and reliable company to provide the service they need.
Know when to ask for help! This is something I wish I did much sooner. I worked for a year covering all the walks by myself and grew a solid customer base. But by the end of that year I was exhausted and maxed out. I couldn’t possibly fit anymore clients in my schedule and I knew I reached a breaking point. I had to make the decision to hire somebody or to go at it alone and not be able to grow. To be honest, part of me was scared to take that next step. It meant managing a busier schedule, managing more clients, giving up control (yes, I’m one of those type-A perfectionist who find it difficult to delegate but I’m working on that!) and the hardest thing was knowing that my bank account would take a hit if I was to divvy up my workload with someone else. That was short term thinking though. It was necessary for me to make a short term sacrifice so I could bring on more clients which would mean long term gain. Thankfully the stars aligned and someone reached out to me inquiring about a position. It was the perfect time and the push I needed to grow the business. Now I have three amazing women to work alongside with and the business wouldn’t be what it is today without them!
Learning to say no and setting time aside for yourself. This one took me two years to figure out and I wish I would have done it sooner. I was burnt out, working all week including weekends, taking on new clients and rarely saying no to an appointment request. My fear was that if I started to say no, especially to weekend work, my clients would be upset and take their business elsewhere. Clearly I was wrong, my clients have been very respectful and understanding of the need to set aside time for myself. I now have time for family and friends and my body can rest after many km’s walked during the week. I wish I could of learned to say NO much sooner!
If you’re thinking of starting a business or side hustle, I hope these insights help. Be confident, know the intention of your business, work hard, do your best and I promise you, you’ll attract the clients you’re looking for!