Last week I ran into a colleague at a networking event. She started a business about a year and a half ago and we had met to talk about marketing around that time. I asked how business was going and she reminded me of something I said when we had met.
It takes 18 months to get into a groove.
I may have forgotten I told her this, but she sure didn’t and said it was absolutely true. 18 months is a great milestone in a small business. Within the first year you have a few clients and you’re still getting setup and going, working out all the kinks. At around 18 months (it’s not an exact science…) you’re in a groove. You know what you’re doing and your target market (if you’re networking in the right places) knows you’ve been around and in business for more than a hot minute.
If you’re a small business just starting out, don’t get defeated. And don’t get defeated if you’re at 18 months and don’t feel this is true. But if you’re running a small business full time (IE: no day job and doing this nights and weekends) then at around 18 months, you’ll probably start to see an uptick in business. Here’s a few things that can help:
- Network – all the time and everywhere. Meet EVERYONE. Take those coffee meetings, go to that event that your friend recommends instead of staying home and watching TV. And obviously do ALL the follow up afterwards!
- Don’t Get Distracted – Yes at some point you’ll need a marketing consultant and CPA and a business coach and a new website. But in your first few months your budget is tight and you need to figure out what your priorities are. Don’t get distracted by shiny ($2000 conferences anyone?) objects.
- Talk to Others Doing It – The best thing I did when I started my business was talk to my friends who had their own companies. What do I need to do? Do I need to hire a lawyer to file a LLC or can I fill out the paperwork to be a sole proprietor right now? What do I need to know that I don’t know? What tax and financial stuff should I be thinking about? What list building?
- Take Amazing Care of Your Clients – When you’re starting out you’ll make mistakes. But make sure that those first few clients, even if you’re working out the kinks, you’re talking to them right away if you do drop the ball. Don’t sweep anything under the rug, take great care of your clients. They’ll be your biggest referral sources if you do it right. And oh so loyal…
I know I’m missing other tips for starting a business – what advice have you received that’s been helpful to keep the momentum going as you’re launching? If you’re near the 18 month mark, where are you stuck and in need of help?
Starting your own business is the hardest and BEST decision I ever made, and it wouldn’t be possible without great support along the way!