Business is hard. Seriously hard. I’m in a mastermind group with women who have been in business for over a decade and they STILL have months that are difficult, when work is slow and the money doesn’t come in. Business challenges don’t just stop coming because you’ve “made it.”
When I started my first business, I had these grand visions of a client-packed schedule and making a full-time income. It just doesn’t work like that in the beginning. Now, well into my second business, most months are good, but there are still months that are a struggle.
I want to share with you three times I almost gave up – yeah, just bagged the whole thing – on business and how I overcame them, with the hope that it will give you some encouragement for when you’re feeling down on your business.
#1. My first year as a massage therapist.
Can I repeat myself for a sec? My vision: booked solid. Paying my parents back for that loan they gave me. Bringing home the proverbial bacon. None of that happened. I think I saw 5 clients a month for like 3 months straight. It was so crappy. I was crushed.
I spent money on traditional advertising like newspaper ads that didn’t pan out. I was gifted $1500 in radio ads as a wedding gift and bartered massage for almost another $2000…and didn’t get a single client out of it. I had no idea what I was doing and nothing seemed to work. There were a lot of, “What was I thinking?” moments and stumbling around until I figured out how to market and get referrals and hustle.
Challenge: Fumbling at starting a new business.
Solution: Just go with it. A first business is a serious learning process. Keep learning and improving and fake it till you make it. You’ll get there if you don’t give up before you’ve really started.
#2. When 2 virtual assistance clients dropped me at once.
About three months into my virtual assistant business, two of my clients (who paid me about $300 a month combined – but that seemed like A LOT when I was starting out) dropped me at once. They said they were rethinking their marketing and what was working for their business, which is legit. Every business should be continually evaluating their marketing, where leads and clients are coming from, and adjusting accordingly.
At the time, I felt like it was my fault. I must be a bad assistant and terrible at my job. If I was terrible at my job, I might as well give up.
That just wasn’t the truth. Maybe we weren’t a good fit or maybe they really did need to revamp their marketing. But I had other clients that were happy with my services. I had to learn that client turnover is part of freelancing. People change their minds. People change their plans. That’s business. I had to toughen up and realize that not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone wants what I have to offer.
There are other people who do.
Challenge: Losing clients.
Solution: Realize that that’s normal. Clients will come and go. There are always more clients out there. Find out where your ideal clients are hanging out and provide them with valuable information and solutions.
#3. An almost-no-income month.
Almost no income…2 1/2 years into my business. There is an unfortunate period between Christmas and warm weather in which massage just isn’t as popular in the area where I live. People are broke from buying Christmas gifts. The New Year’s got people busy on new projects. Pennsylvania is damp and dreary and people don’t want to leave their house. After the gift certificate surge around the holidays, the only people coming in for appointments are people with certificates that are already paid – if they even feel like braving the weather.
I got swept up in it at the end of 2016/beginning of this year. It was such a bad month that I told my husband it felt like, “A really expensive f*cking hobby.” One month of pulling from our savings to pay my expenses was enough to make me wonder if what I was doing was really worth it.
It was worth it. I got through the rough months, business picked up again, and I learned the important lesson of planning for those months next year.
Challenge: Slow months.
Solution: Keep marketing. Keep networking. Don’t just sit there and wait it out – BE PROACTIVE! Put in the hard work and know that if you do, it’s going to pay off eventually. This too shall pass.
Business is hard for just about everyone from time to time. Don’t get discouraged! Entrepreneurship takes a lot of perseverance and dedication. When it gets tough, remind yourself why you started and what your goals are. Face those business challenges head-on! There are always things you can do when business gets slow or when you’re just starting out to push through it.
Working on your own terms means being responsible for your own success or failure. You choose to succeed by choosing to put time, effort and yes, sometimes literal tears, into your business. Choosing success means that you don’t give up. You keep improving, growing, and forming connections until something gives.
What was the toughest business challenge you faced and how did you overcome it? Share with me!