I’m celebrating International Women’s Day 2018 by asking for advice from women in business. From finding your tribe to charging what you’re worth, these 15 online business owners have learned from experience.
Ready to get started? Let’s jump right in.
Have a support network
“With apps like Messenger and social media networks like Twitter, finding and reaching out to your ‘work family’ has never been so easy!”
Starting out as a freelancer can be incredibly daunting and, by its very nature, lonely. Add to the mix that you’re working on your own, without a team to bounce ideas off and going freelance can suddenly seem particularly overwhelming.
A mentor doesn’t have to cost you money (although obviously paid mentors do exist and can be worth their weight in gold). I was lucky enough to find a course leader I got on very well with who was happy to respond to my question filled emails for the first few months. This gave me enough of a confidence boost to know that I was heading in the right direction and offering the best advice.
I also connected with a couple of other freelancers locally with services that complimented mine.
Over the years my support network has expanded to include other social media consultants just like myself across the UK. With apps like Messenger and social media networks like Twitter, finding and reaching out to your ‘work family’ has never been so easy! Pippa Akram,
“Be a giver and help others to help themselves.”
1. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people who will inspire you on your journey in business and who share your values.
2. Be a giver and help others to help themselves.
3. Believe in yourself and don’t listen to the “imposter” in you! Imogen Allen
Believe in yourself
“You are already so much more capable than you know.”
But if I have to single out one thing I would tell my younger self and any woman considering working for herself or starting a business, it would be to start sooner.
You are already so much more capable than you know. The people who are out there working for themselves and running companies do not have a secret formula that you don’t yet know, they’re just applying themselves and their passion and getting better at it one day at a time.
Do not wait until you feel like you know enough to start. If you’re any good, you will never feel like you know enough and at the same time, you already know more than you will ever need to know! Eleanor Ward
“You’ll be happier and more successful if you at least try to believe in yourself.”
There are so many times during my career when I doubted my abilities. I still doubted myself when I became self-employed, despite companies actually coming to me to ask for my social media expertise.
I’ve come to realise that if you doubt yourself, you’re actually holding yourself back from achieving what you’re truly capable of.
It’s not easy to change your mindset. In fact, it’s a daily battle. However, you’ll be happier and more successful if you at least try to believe in yourself! Elizabeth Harmon
Embrace the learning curve
“It’s okay to be a bit rough around the edges sometimes.”
Things are constantly evolving and changing and you need to adapt to that. If you wait for everything to be perfect the moment will have passed and most likely you won’t be showing the real you.
So, hit go on that website, publish that blog post and stop re-recording that Instagram story! It’s okay to be a bit rough around the edges sometimes. It’s all part of our story and storytelling is one of the greatest assets you have in connecting with your audience. Carly Stringer
“Keep it simple, do your research, and take it one step at a time.”
You never thought you would have your own business, you never thought you would have the need to or that your life would follow this course. But it did. And you’re doing it, whether you know how you are managing to or not.
However, what I would say to you before you start is believe in your abilities (you can do it!), keep it simple, do your research and take it one step at a time. It isn’t a race, you will get there in the end.
Don’t punish yourself for not knowing everything straightaway. Embrace the learning curve and have fun with your new experiences.
And don’t get scared by clients – they’re just people too! Kerry Harrison
Stay focused on what you want
“Stay true to yourself.”
“Don’t get distracted by what others around you are doing.”
Know that you can and will do it. Have confidence in yourself and focus on your own path; don’t get distracted by what others around you are doing. Annie Brown
“It’s okay to ignore advice if it doesn’t sit right with you.”
So my advice would actually be that it’s okay to ignore advice if it doesn’t sit right with you, and instead seek out the people whose approaches really resonate and listen to them (for me it’s Paul Jarvis). Katy Carlisle
Do things your own way
“Everyone works differently, so experiment with different habits and ideas and figure out what works best for you.”
My advice to you on starting out is twofold.
One: you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re actually going to do your work after you get back from your walk/coffee with a friend/the pub. Do it before you go.
Two: setting specific working hours, adhering to a strict routine and looking to others for accountability WILL NOT WORK FOR YOU. AND THAT IS FINE. Everyone works differently, so experiment with different habits and ideas and figure out what works best for you. Screw what everyone else thinks. Do it your way. (This applies to ev-er-y-thing, not just productivity). Karen Marston
Don’t undervalue yourself
“Don’t undervalue yourself. And don’t reduce your rates just to make a quick buck.”
When I think back to how little I was charging clients for work when I first started Teapot Communications in 2015, I really do cringe! It’s one thing doing a bit of work on the cheaper side to get yourself established, but quite another completely selling yourself short.
Providing quotes can be scary. I still hold my breath sometimes when I send through costings to a potential client for a big project! But if you’re confident that your pricing is on point and you know that you’re worth what you’re asking for, then your conscience is clear.
There will always be people who say you’re too expensive. But you can’t win every job – and you can’t please everyone.
Don’t undervalue yourself. And don’t reduce your rates just to make a quick buck. Zoë Arpin
“If you want your business to success in the long term, don’t undercharge for your time.”
Have confidence in your abilities and skills and, most importantly, if you want your business to succeed in the long term, don’t undercharge for your time. Emma Sheppard
Make time for self-care
“Self-care is so important and it’s too easy to work ridiculous hours when running a business and forget about your own health and happiness.”
Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you that it will never work and don’t worry about the competition! There may be other businesses offering the same services but what makes your business unique is YOU, so just be your authentic self, build relationships with people and the rest will follow.
Also, value your time and your worth! Don’t offer low prices to gain clients or give away too much for free. You know you provide great value in the work that you do and people will soon see that via testimonials and recommendations from your happy clients.
Most importantly, don’t burn yourself out! Your self-care is so important and it’s too easy to work ridiculous hours when running a business and forget about your own health and happiness. Outsource anything that you don’t enjoy doing or that is a poor use of your time as soon as you can! The investment will pay for itself in no time. Emma Read
Don’t compare yourself to others
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
It’s good to keep an eye on your competitors and an essential part of a successful business, but comparing yourself is unhealthy, it feeds the Imposter Syndrome Gremlin and won’t make you a better businesswoman.
Eyes on your own paper. Sam Burgess
Make the most of every opportunity
“If I could have my time again, I’d tell myself to exploit every opportunity I had.”
If I could have my time again, I’d tell myself to exploit every opportunity I had. While I still worked there, I could pick my ex-boss’ and colleagues’ brains. I can’t do that now – but I did check in with them six months after I went full-time and they had some great tips for me. I wish I did that before I left! Elise Dopson
…and my own advice?
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – there’s more to life than work.”
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Whether we’re talking about how much you can achieve in a day or where you’d like your business to be in a year, set realistic goals.
Give yourself the space and time you need to regularly check in with your feelings and your progress. If there’s an aspect of your business that’s making you miserable, consider outsourcing it or dropping it completely. You can only do so much – the days are never going to get any longer.
Finally, there’s more to life than work. If you’re working at 7 pm on a Saturday night, something isn’t right. Log off and get yourself a bloody big glass of wine! You deserve it! Sophie Livingston