10 things NOT to do when starting a new business
A lesson learnt the hard way.
As we find ourselves wandering into our 6th month in business, we thought it might be a good time to grab a brew, sit back and think about all the things we have learnt. We feel very ill equipped to start offering out advice for success, but what we can do is tell other people who are starting out what NOT to do!
1. Forget to enjoy the freedom
After a decade of working 9–5 it’s harder than you might think to get out of the habit. So at 3pm on a beautiful sunny day when you’ve just wrapped up a project and sent all those emails that you’ve been meaning to send all week — Instead of sitting in front of your laptop searching through jobs boards, scouring twitter and inevitably ending up browsing airbnb for your next holiday, get outside! Make the most of your free time, this is what it’s all about, so don’t forget to enjoy it.
2. Be scared to talk money.
Receiving an enquiry from a potential client can seem very exciting at first, your head starts spinning with all of the ideas and it’s all too easy to get carried away, spending a day designing them an all singing all dancing proposal. Only after you’ve emailed it, you then receive a reply saying “We were thinking more like £100” — Save everyone’s time by asking about their budget before you even open a deck.
3. Hide at the back of a networking event, grab your few free biscuits and leave before anyone noticed you were even there
Networking really isn’t for everyone, and as 2 fairly introverted designers, we’ve learnt this the hard way. We can’t all float around a room easily conversing. Instead, we’ve had to find a networking style that works for us. (And this is still work in progress!) Instead, we find the people that we’d wish to talk to and invite them out for a coffee or a walk. One on one and personal is more our bag!
Fear can be a cruel master, and when you’re starting out, it’s continually sat on your shoulder. So when you’re pricing yourself for a job, for the sake of winning you will often massively under price yourself. Yes, be considerate of the fact that you’re new and businesses might feel like that they’re taking a risk on you, but everyone loves to haggle, so create a little wiggle room and make sure you don’t leave yourself working 5 days on a project and only getting paid for 2.
5. Definitely don’t work outdoors all day without sunscreen
Trust me on the sunscreen
6. Hide from spreadsheets
As a creative even having excel on google sheets on your computer makes you want to vomit! But unfortunately sometimes, seeing all of the pennies lay out on a screen for all to see is a necessity if you want to be able to eat for the next month…
7. Forget who you are
There will be a reason that you left full-time employment, why you’ve left money and job security behind, and I can tell you that it’s probably a pretty damn good reason too. Make sure you stick to who you want to be and what you want your ‘brand’ to say about you. Remember the life that you wanted for yourself and keep asking yourself if what you’re doing is going to get you there.
8. All people care about is money
Wrong. This is the weird conception that we had when we were first talking to clients. When they asked us for a cost for a job, that was literally all we were giving them, and then we wondered why we weren’t winning as many jobs as we’d hoped. People care more about value. Clients want to know why they should spend their money with you and how much you are going to give them for what they’re paying. Sell how good you and your ideas are before you even think about money.
9. Work from a studio
Our plan was always to find ourselves a beautiful studio in the countryside to spend our days, but instead, we have fallen in love with being ‘digital nomads’. As long as we have our laptops, a sketchbook, pens, a brew and internet connection, we can work from wherever we want. Don’t take on the burden on a property until you really feel you have to. Elevate some of the financial pressures, and have fun with it! Airbnb and small local businesses have supplied us with some outstanding ‘office’ spaces.
10. Work, work, work, work
It’s the things that we do when we’re not at work that make us who we are. Make time for the things that you love, even if that means working a little harder to fit in the things that you don’t. A full morning of accounts can be much more bearable when the promise of an afternoon up in the hills awaits.