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9 tips to start your own business - 2 years girlboss

A few of the most asked questions during my workshops and via my social media accounts last year were: How can I start my own business, be successful online and collaborate with brands (on social media) as well!

Although I really understand that this is something people aspire, I never really asked someone this myself, I kind of rolled into it, as all my previous work experiences clicked with something I really loved.

Which is: inspiring others online by sharing stories and pictures about my own experiences. And helping others succeed online and on social media through marketing campaigns, promotion, building concepts and branding strategies.

Little over 2 years ago, after having been active on my website & social media accounts for a few years, I took the leap to quit my steady job and went to the Chamber of Commerce, to register my own PR & Marketing company; Authentic Chic Travel & Lifestyle.

I never dared to do this before, as I didn’t want to invest money in products, or take too many risks. But since I already had a few people in my network asking for my services I felt this concept had a chance to succeed, without having to invest too much.

Therefore I would never say just go for it. Really think it through and find out what will work for you first, before you quit your job and take the leap!

But don’t just take my word for it! In my opinion it's very important to know who you're taking advice from, and to know what their background is! Therefore I summed up some facts for you, not to brag, but to hopefully earn your trust, to be able to help you on your way as well:

  • I'm a certified online marketeer,

  • I manage social media accounts for several companies on a daily basis,

  • I have set up my own website and social media accounts over 3,5 years ago with over 135,000 followers combined till date,

  • Since I registered my own company 2 years ago, I have worked as a consultant for 22 bigger brands and companies, such as; 333Travel, Bilderberg Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Bjorn Borg, LaDress, Ichi, We are Garcia, Goldbergh, Bamboom, Peugeot and many others.

  • I love helping others to become more successful on social media, therefore I also set up seminars, workshops and masterclasses 1,5 years ago,

  • Since then I hosted 20 workshops for over 125 start ups/freelancers, and have been booked for 24 company masterclasses & private consultations,

  • I even hosted my own workshop trip to Lisbon last year in September for a group of amazing female entrepreneurs!

  • And next to the freelance consultancy work I do for regular customers, I have had the pleasure to work with 16 tourism boards all around the world, while following my passion and doing what I love.

Sounds too good to be true? Well it’s not, mostly just hard work, some strategy, and a lot of networking! And of course I am more than happy to help you achieve this as well.

Therefore I put together this top 9, based on my own experiences, which you can use as a checklist, and can hopefully guide you in your decision:

1. What can you offer & what makes you happy?

When I look back the idea of being my own boss has been in my head for a long time, and I successfully created new brands and projects for my employers on many occasions. I always liked to take the lead, working individually or while leading small teams.

I was always quite creative, yet commercial, pro-active and I always loved marketing, creating and networking. Which are certainly ingredients needed for being your own boss.

So ask yourself; ''what are you good at, what can you offer others, and does this come naturally to you?''

Finding something that does, and is in line with your character and strengths, will make it easier to succeed and will keep things fun, as being your own boss has many downsides as well!

Like having to do everything alone, working hard 24/7, the insecurity of short term projects and generating enough income each month, and having to do lots of administrative work and tax reports.

So also ask yourself; ''can you handle the downsides, and insecurity of not having a steady income, and constantly having to pitch for new projects as well?''

2. Does your idea need an investment?

I would highly recommend to make a business plan, before you decide to invest in something!

During the jobs I had in fashion, sales, buying and marketing the past 18 years I have thought about starting something several times, like my own brand, store or web shop, I just never dared to make a big investment.

So I made several business plans, and always came to the conclusion that I would have to sell too much each month to break-even, and these ideas would restrict my freedom too much. In the end I am happy I did this first, and found a more risk free alternative by offering consultancy services to brands and freelancers now without big investments. All while still being able to do what I love for a variety of clients and with much more flexibility.

This is still in line with my previous work experiences and network, which involved branding and marketing as well, and for the rest I educated myself through online courses.

3. What are you willing to sacrifice?

Being your own boss may sound great, but certainly takes sacrifice too! Are you willing to work really hard to make your company succeed, even in the weekends? And do you have a financial back up? Maybe you need to move to a smaller house or cheaper apartment, but you have to be prepared for slower times as well. That starting period when you are building up your portfolio with no customers at all, and those months when you have fewer projects, which means a very low income..

If you have a big spending pattern and need a lot on a monthly basis, then this is probably not the right choice for you.

4. Save first or keep a steady job on the side

I would advise to have at least 1 year's spending money saved up to cover those periods when you get sick or have no projects. You need that back-up, as you won't be insured, like when you have a steady job.

I did this by shifting to a part-time job 4 years ago first, to create more time to start up my website and social media accounts next to my day job. To build up my network and services, while still having a steady income, and being able to save up for 2 years.

5. Build up a network & fanbase in advance

Having a good network that knows you, trusts you and creates word-of-mouth promotion has proven essential to me. Also having big numbers on my social media accounts, with a professional look, and an attractive website really helps to build trust and credibility to attract and convince future clients.

Make sure to invest time in this by building this up first, before you take that big leap!

6. Visualize & communicate

Put yourself out there and show people what you're doing by posting about your process, projects, customers and meetings on social media and your website. Share blogs about your knowledge to attract clients. Getting people to hire you for their project is all about trust, goodwill and credibility.

LinkedIn is a very good platform to network, increase credibility and show others what you’re doing to convince them.

To build trust you can also share reviews of previous clients, so potential clients can identify with these, and see that you are active. Make it visual, post video’s and show behind the scenes images to make it even more personal and interactive.

Visual and personal branding is everything nowadays, and if you do it right attracting new clients through social selling should follow automatically.

7. Teamwork makes the dream work!

So go network, team up and help others as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or work together with other freelancers, mediators and competitors by collaborating and sometimes even give each other work! This might sound contradictory, but can really work to your advantage if you find the right people to collaborate with, and expand your network together.

8. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Being able to offer a certain service is nice and having a specialty is good, but as the market is constantly changing and competition is ever growing I found out that is also important to stay flexible and widen your options!

That’s why next to social media management, I also offer promotions, campaigns, coaching, consultancy and have created workshops and masterclasses, made-to-measure to different subjects, so I can generate income in several ways.

When one thing goes down (like Facebook and Instagram, which is becoming more and more difficult to handle), I can offer something else. I also try to work for a variety of clients, from brands in the fashion industry, to travel brands, tourism boards and companies in other sectors, to spread my knowledge, build up a wider experience and keep creating new chances for my company.

9. Invest in the right things & stay educated

I’m not saying this to promote my own services or sell my workshops. But I really think it's important to invest in a good website and online, or offline courses and consultancy, if this is something you need to expand your knowledge, and bring your business to the next level.

After all when you register your company you can deduct all of this from your income taxes as business expenses at the end of the year.

I myself try to follow a few workshops every year to stay updated about the newest developments in my sector. And there are also various good webinars online you can attend to stay educated for free. Just make sure to find the right ones for your sector and business, hosted by people you trust and who are really knowledgeable!

I hope this post created more awareness and helped you find out if starting your own business is something for you as well.

Of course you have to find your own way, and can also come to the conclusion that this is not for you after all, which is OK!

But if it is, I am always happy to help! At the moment I am even creating more personal, smaller and practical masterclasses, focused on social media for your business in general, content creation, personal branding and social selling.

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