One thing I heard (and still hear) so much from entrepreneurs was that they had family and friends who were NOT supportive of their business ventures. I did not (and have not) ever experience this when I started my business. As I look back over this last year I wanted to figure out why. Most of it has to do with my family being so entrepreneurial in general, and how my parents raised us, but I think there are some other things that I've done that have played into this as well. This post gets real honest towards the end, but I hope you also find it encouraging.
In the beginning I was really just side-hustling on this business. Honestly, it was a side, side business. I wanted to start wedding planning, but as I learned about online marketing, I discovered the whole VA world and realized I could get paid for posting for others on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (which I'm still blown away by!). My parents always taught us to do things the right way the first time, so even when I only had one client, I wanted to be the best VA for her I could. Someone was paying me to do work, and I needed to honor that relationship.
Once I started working from home, I felt the pressure to work a full 40 hours and have something to show for it. But I realized that's not exactly what I wanted to do. I think there is a time to work a full 40 hours, but by working smarter, I could work less hours and enjoy the freedom that working from home gave me. However, that didn't mean I stopped working, it just meant I started working with a plan in place. I worked on blogging, created and tested several email opt-ins, and continued to learn about business and social media.
Having a plan is the best thing I could have done for my business. In June of this year, I invested in a 6 month marketing plan. It was a lot of $$ to swallow but I knew that I wanted my business to truly be that - a business. It takes a lot of work to run a business. I should know, both grandpas and both of my parents run/ran huge local businesses, while being parents, active church members, and doting grandparents. I can guarantee you that when they started their businesses, there were some doubtful moments (oh how I wish I could tell you how both grandpas started their businesses!!) on whether it was going to work or not, but they kept at it. They put in the hours. I was chatting with my dad this week and he was taking a course on Facebook ads and pay-per-clicks so that he can help grow 3 businesses that he owns. He's 60 y'all and still learning and planning and growing. (Hey Daddy, want to run my Facebook ads??)
Stop the Play
Okay, this is where we really need to have a chat. And trust me, when I got this text from my mom, I got the same feeling in my stomach that you're probably getting right now.
Here's the background: I had posted on my personal IG that one great thing about working from home was being able to work from bed. I'm not sure if Momma noticed that the story happened at like 6am but that's beside the point. Her point was that everything I do represents my business.
Here are some tough questions to ask yourself and your loved ones:
- Why don't you (I) take my business seriously? Is it something I do or don't do?
- Where am I spending the majority of my day? Scrolling Pinterest and Instagram and actually not doing any work?
- Am I just spending money on courses and never finishing or implementing them?
- How can I start getting more serious about my business?
- Do you have an actual business plan in place?
Yes, I've taken off on a Wednesday to go to a Braves game at 12p, but what was I doing right up until the moment I needed to leave? Working. Now I don't want you to think you have to work 24/7 and you can't share the amazing things our line of work offers you, but if you're posting from the pool every day of the summer, I'm most likely not going to buy from or hire you, I'm just not. And don't get me started on duck-face, low-cut shirt selfies on anything related to your business. I'm not going there today.
Social Media Reputation
When we're starting and running our businesses, we need realize that our social media is the foundation for our reputation. I don't follow everyone that follows me, and I check out most everyone's Facebook, Instagram, and website before hiring them. It's all apart of that "first impression" cliche. If someone hasn't posted on social media in a while, but they're trying to sell me a course (even at a lower cost) it's a little red flag. Now, I totally get that we can get so caught up in the work that social media falls to the wayside, but even just posting 1x day through a scheduling software is huge for your reputation.
Becoming an Owner
Even a year in, it can be hard for me to say "I'm a business owner" to people I meet in person. Typically I follow it up with "I do freelance social media management" because that seems more relatable and that's what I feel like - a freelancer not a business owner. My office is in a nook under our stairs and my assistant is in another state. I don't feel like a business owner. But the fact of the matter is, I am a business owner. The Social Walker Agency is an LLC with clients who trust me and Nichole to help grow their businesses. I send invoices, make money, and give advice. I recently listened to a podcast by Christy Wright with Christine Caine (Ep. 1 of Christy's Podcast) and they both brought up the fact that we can't do things off of feeling because it will never feel just right. They said to be active and your feelings will follow. So even more than before, I'm determining that I want to act like a business owner (on social media, to clients, things behind the scenes - I even started paying myself regularly this month and have a business savings account now!) because I want to truly feel like one. Because I am. And so are you. We just all need to start acting like it.