It’s been a little over a year now since I decided to embark in this journey of starting my own coaching business on the side of my full-time job. It’s been quite the journey so far with lots of different emotions, highs and lows, but most importantly I’ve learned a lot and pushed myself out of my comfort zone in ways I would have never imagined. One of my biggest struggles has been getting out of my comfort zone and putting myself and what I was trying to do in the public eye. But I knew that if I wanted my business to grow and succeed, I had to get over my fears (and myself) and focus on helping others and providing value; even if it meant putting myself out in the public eye . I had to realize that it’s not about me but about the value I can provide to others. What’s kept me focused has been having a vision of the career fulfillment I wanted to achieve while being able to create something under my own terms and schedule. Secondly, the difference and impact I want to make in other people’s lives.
I’ve met a lot of great supportive people along the way who have been valuable throughout this process and offered help without ever meeting me. I say all this to let you know that if you’re considering starting a business or side hustle, just go for it! Once you begin the process you will meet so many great people along the way, new opportunities will come, and you will figure it out as you go. My advice is get started and you will find the answers you are seeking along the way, it doesn’t have to be perfect you just need to go for it! Below are some lessons I’ve learned along the way so far. Enjoy!
1. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs & build your network
Starting and growing a business is not an easy process. You will have your ups and downs, there will be times when you feel that what you’re doing is not working, you will have self-doubts and you will be putting in long hours without making much money or any at all. Therefore, it’s crucial that you have the right community of people surrounding you who will be supportive and have you’re back when things get tough. It’s also great to build your network, to share best practices and build partnerships. Some places you can meet other entrepreneurs/business owners are at local organizations in your industry, your local chamber of commerce, LinkedIn and Facebook groups, networking events, and local Meetup groups. You never know what new opportunities may arise from building those partnerships.
2. Find a mentor/role model in your industry who has built a successful business
When you’re first starting and learning you won’t always know what you’re doing, in fact many times you will be questioning if you’re doing anything right at all. You may be an expert in your industry but if this is your first business, there will be a lot to learn along the way. Therefore, it’s important to find a mentor in your industry, someone who has been doing it for years and has been successful at it. This will help you learn from them and confirm that your specific niche and business idea is profitable and there’s a market for it. Once you’ve identified someone who fits this category, connect and follow them on social media to learn about them and their business. You can even go as far as asking them if they’re open to an informational interview. I personally found my two mentors this way and I even invested in coaching with them. It’s always great to learn the hoops from someone who has walked through that same path and have achieved success.
3. Get out of your comfort zone, don’t let fear paralyze you!
If you want to grow, your will need to say goodbye to your comfort zone. When I first started, I was afraid to put it out there and let the world know what I was doing. I had impostor syndrome and did not want to portray myself as an “expert”. I was too afraid to put content out and mortified about posting videos and doing Facebook lives. This held me back for months, until I decided that if I wanted my business to grow and if I truly wanted to help others, I needed to share what I knew as well as my story with others. I still get nervous before doing live videos, but it does get easier with time and practice. So, don’t let fear get in your way, reality is that there’s someone out there who needs you and the services you can provide to help solve their problem and needs.
4. Invest in learning
Reality is, you won’t always have the answers and there will be times you will need to invest in learning a new skill, in courses and even in coaching and/or a certification depending on your industry and type of business. I’ve invested in all of the above and it has been a life changing experience; I’ve learned and grown so much in the past year because of it. Investing in learning will also give you more confidence that you’re growing your business in the right direction and help motivate as well as hold you accountable because there has already been some investment and level of commitment.
5. Be intentional with your time
When you’re trying to grow a business on the side of your full-time job, every minute counts. You will have to juggle between both as well as time to spend with your friends and family. What’s helped me is setting a schedule and blocking out time where I consistently work on growing my coaching business. I’ve had to make some sacrifices and cut down the time I spend relaxing, watching TV or going out with friends in order to work on my goals. I’m not saying don’t have fun, we all need a break but you will need to be intentional about it and block off time to work on your goals. Keep in mind that success doesn’t always come easy, it’s constant work and you will have to make some sacrifices from time to time.
6. Test out your product and services
You will need to do research in the process and get to know your target market well. Before you invest in a website or marketing materials, know who you’re serving, get to know what their problems are and how you can help solve them. Some of the ways that I’ve been able to test things out when I first started has been by coaching others for free, creating content for others to test, conducting market research surveys and interviews, joining Facebook groups within my industry and posing questions to my target audience as well as providing value by helping answer some of their questions. These are all ways in which you can learn about your markets needs as well as provide value.
7. It doesn’t need to be perfect; you just need to start
I’ve wasted so much time trying to make things perfect when they don’t need to be. Overthinking and being a perfectionist will hold you back. When you’re first starting something, think of it as your first or second even third draft. It will get better over time but if you don’t put it out there, you're not giving yourself the opportunity to improve and you will remain stuck. Don’t compare yourself with others who may have years ahead of you, they had to start from somewhere too so don’t compare your beginning with someone’s middle or end. Just continue taking daily action and your craft will only get better over time. As your business grows, you will be able to invest in professional help with certain tasks and projects but for now don’t worry as much as how things look and go with what you have.