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Five Things I Learned My First Year of Business (2022) Part 5

This article first appeared on Medium in May 2022

May 5th marks the one-year anniversary of registering my business. I am the sole proprietor of a media consulting company. I help people get on TV: crafting their pitches, shaping compelling content, and helping with their “at-home” studios for remote interviews.

My first year goals were small: discover my client base, manage cash flow, expand my network and service offerings. I’m happy to report I have met these goals and am now entering Year 2 with a focus on scaling up and expanding.

This week I’m sharing five key pieces of advice I’ve followed during the make-or-break year for many entrepreneurs.

Key Advice: Grow Slow

Six years ago I competed my first and, to date only, marathon. I’m a slow runner. Even a 10K takes at least an hour to finish. But I love distance running and I love training.

When you’re building endurance for distance running, you’re actually encouraged to run slow. Every training program has a mix of training runs: race pace, hills, speed drills. But the most important training run is the long, slow pace.

Each training run damages and repairs your running muscles in a different way. But it’s not all pushing yourself to the limit. When you take it slow, you let your body get used to exerting running energy over a long period of time.

This realization gave me the courage to train for a marathon, even with my snail pace. And it’s the same mindset I had when I launched my business.

I like groups of threes, so for my first year I had three goals:

  1. Establish an online presence for my company. This included getting a professionally designed logo for multiple platforms, a website, and designated spaces on social media. I completed this the first month.

  2. Secure three clients. I wish I could say there was a thoroughly researched thought-process behind this number. I would be lying. In lifestyle, there’s a general rule that once you see something three times it’s a trend. One client is lucky. Two is quick word-of-mouth. Three is substantial referrals you can build a business on. I completed this seven months after launch.

  3. Quit the bridge job. When I launched the business I also took a freelance news writing job. This job covered my living expenses while I added more clients to the roster and racking up more billable hours. I worked my last news shift on April 6, 2022–11 months after launch.

Small, measurable goals are key for the first year. So much of this year will be spent figuring out and laying the foundation.

Also, you want to set yourself up for success. I signed three clients in the first seven months, but I also met with many more. And this was all through word of mouth.

If I did more lead generating and self-promotion, the client-base may have been higher.

But in the first few months, I didn’t have a lot of consulting work to leverage. That took time.

I posted each segment online and put a lot of thought into each post. It’s not enough to just post a screen grab with “her’s X client on Y show. Click for the segment”.

I wanted to share some of my process and give a sense of what it’s like to work with me as a creative partner. I also made sure to tag my client in each post so it was automatically shared on her network.

The strategy worked. My clients have all come through her network, either by direct word of mouth or by association. I now have six clients, possibly seven, at different stages of development. All with minimal self-promotion.

If you do good work, your clients will talk about it. They all have contemporaries facing similar problems. Happy clients will refer you.

In the beginning, this can be enough. Do I want to draw clients from a larger network? Yes. But in order to this effectively you need the right platform and you need a body of work to back it up.

It takes time to find the right platform. And it takes time to develop a body of work strong enough to motivate people to buy what you’re selling.

If you act too quickly, you’ll spin your wheels on sales funnels that never pay out. Take it slow and become the go-to expert in your field.

Take the time to make your expertise irresistible to potential clients.

If there’s one thing I’m most grateful for, it’s the slow growth of my first year of business. I’ve gone from being dependent on the news writing gig, to being solvent with consulting. I can cover my bills with the basics of getting people on TV.

Now I’m looking to scale and expand what I’ve built so far.

One of my clients is best-served making her mark on the podcast circuit, so I’m investing the time and energy to get good at that.

Some of my clients are interested in booking lucrative speaking engagements, so I’m negotiating that. I’m also branching out into brand partnerships, pitching and negotiating those agreements.

I’m sure I’ll come across other opportunities to scale, but I’m in no rush. I’m here for the long-haul, which means a quality and consistent product.

I don’t need to be first. After all, everyone gets the same medal in a marathon.

The information in this article is for entertainment purposes only. It should not be used for financial or business advice


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