It’s been exactly one year since I started Sophie’s Proof, this seems crazy to me as time has flown by but it also feels like I’ve been working on my business for so long. And while I’m nowhere near to becoming a mentor and giving business advice, I thought I’d share some of the things I have learnt along the way in my first year of my business.
Don’t force It
When I first started, I was taking on clients left, right and centre. I knew what I wanted from my business and when I finally specialised as a fiction editor, I found that I was enjoying my work more because editing fiction was the reason I started my business in the first place. If I had realised this from the beginning, then it would’ve saved me a lot of time and stress.
Another example of this is with my blog. As a writer, I want to be producing as much content as possible, however in the past I was creating blogs that I thought other people wanted to read and therefore I hated it. Each week I would struggle to find content ideas and it would make the process harder. Now with my Sophie’s Proof blog, I produce content fortnightly and never fail to come up with ideas of motivation as I love the subjects I’m writing about. My previous blogs just weren’t right for me, that’s why they were never successful.
For a long time, I spoke in hushed tones about my business. I didn’t feel like it was real and was scared to talk about in case someone pointed me out as a fake. The fact of the matter is though, I am getting paid to provide a service, so whatever anyone says, I am a business. The more people who know about your business means more support, more engagement on your social media and essentially FREE word of mouth advertising. Celebrate your hard work and be proud of it.
Take a break
Now I’m definelty someone who needs to take their own advice, but burn out is real. Working for yourself is hard because there’s no one in charge of you, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re working. For me, I felt like any time I wasn’t doing anything, I should be working (I still do, this is something I’m still trying to work on). The problem with this is you'll get to a point where you will start to struggle with working (no matter how much you love it). Downtime is important, especially as too much and not enough breaks can affect your quality of work and impact your business.
Record and keep EVERYTHING organised
I cannot stress this enough and you will thank yourself later. When I first started, I did record everything but it wasn't really organised. This past week, I spent a long and very frustrating few hours attaching invoices to payments, my receipts to expenses etc etc. This task takes no time at all if you do it as you go, however saving up a years worth of payments to do in one afternoon, it's hell! Even if you set aside one day a month to stay on top of your expenses, you'd definelty be saving yourself a lot of stress.
Know your worth
Even if you're starting out, you set your boundaries and prices. Charging less than your competitors is a good way to start and gain experience, however don't take this too far. I was so happy to be working in the beginning, I found that I was majorly undercharging some clients. I didn't do my research on prices until a little later and I think if this was something I had done earlier, I would've been in a much better position. Remember just because you're starting out, it's still YOUR time.
Obviously take this point with a pinch of salt. If a project isn't right for you, or perhaps something you don't particularly do, then don't do it. In the beginning it can feel wrong to turn down paid work but it's so important that you do. This work may take up a lot of your time and if it's completely out of your area, you may struggle to complete it to the quality that's expected. If you have to say no, then do it. I promise that the right kind of projects will come along that will be more suited to you and your business.