We alllll make mistakes when we’re starting out on the entrepreneur journey. If you didn’t make any yet, then you’re probably not taking enough risks - mistakes are just part of the deal, and believe me, I tested and tried out a whole lot of them, just for funsies! Some mistakes are learning experiences, but there are a few mistakes that will cost you dearly down the line, so to save you from making those, I’ve compiled 9 things you should definitely NOT do when you start your business.
This applies at the beginning, but also always. Don’t do shady things like lying to your customers, buying Instagram followers, or basically anything else that you may feel uncomfortable telling your grandma you did!
Look for Loopholes or Shortcuts
In the same vein, try not to avoid things you don’t want to do, even if you feel like you’re getting away with it. Working in cash so you don’t have to report it on your taxes, accepting payments via PayPal Friends + Family to avoid credit card processing fees, and other loopholes like this can come back to bite you in the butt. Accept that things cost money and take time, and do what you can to be above board all the time. This sometimes means taking the harder path, yes - welcome to small business ownership.
Focus Only on Social Media
Speaking of Instagram, a lot of new businesses focus on social media growth only. Remember that your social media following isn’t actually yours - Mark Z. could take that away from you tomorrow, and then where would your business be? Grow your business in multiple ways, use different marketing channels, and include social media as only part of a larger strategy.
Say “Yes” to Every Job
You think all business is good business, but I’m here to tell you that isn’t true! Everyone takes a few crappy jobs while they’re figuring things out, but every job you say yes to means you’re saying no to something else. Take jobs that bring you closer to at least one of your goals - even if that goal is just to put food on the table this month.
Work Only for Clients
I have a lot of new business ladies ask me how to create new work when their paying clients aren’t quite “ideal” yet. The answer is simple - just make it! Someone doesn’t have to be paying you for you to create beautiful work. The more you put out there of your “ideal” work, the more people will ask you to create work like that.
Make Up Pricing
It’s simple - you should always have a solid reason behind your pricing. None of this “it’s what so and so charges” or “I asked a facebook group” - if you don’t know why you’re charging what you’re charging, then you likely aren’t covering the costs that you need to. You may decide to charge less if you’re just starting out - I’m not a fan of this method, actually - but either way, at least have that solid reasoning and understand what area you’re cutting that cost from (hint: it should be your hourly rate, not any material costs). Check out our YouTube video on 2 Common Pricing Strategies for Creatives!
Copy Other People
Well, this should be looped into being shady, but it happens a lot so I made it its own point. Clients often send me other artists’ work as examples, but as much as humanly possible, I try to avoid copying another creative’s work. Not only because it’s illegal, but also because I can’t make something as well as the original person did, so it’s always always always going to turn out worse than something I make on my own.
Provide too Many Options
I used to ask clients what they wanted from me wayyyy too much, and it’s not a smart move. First of all, it’s confusing. The client is hiring you because they don’t know what they want. They don’t know what’s possible, and they don’t know what’s going to turn out best. So asking them for opinions ends up with weird, out of sync expectations on both sides. Provide 1-3 simple options for them, and they (and you) will be much happier.
Let Clients Have All the Say
And lastly, you should not let clients have all the say. It seems counterintuitive, but clients feel like they get a much better experience when you set boundaries with them from the beginning. That way they know what to expect, and they’re taking advantage of the unique skills you have to bring to their project - not trying to dictate the relationship.
So let me know what you think of these 9 Things you shouldn’t do when starting your business - I can’t wait to hear some of the mistakes you’ve made in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to provide some guidance and feedback. If you’re just starting out, of course we have some business resources for you - especially our First 30 Days Workbook which takes you through building a foundation for a long-lasting, goal-oriented business including topics like taxes, contracts, branding, and handling mistakes.