This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.
I had no idea I was starting a small business when I started my blog six years ago. I insisted it was just a hobby for years because the thought of making it a legit business seemed like such a hassle. Wrong! I learned a ton of business lessons the hard way, but you don’t have to. SunTrust asked me to the top 3 pieces of advice I would tell a person just starting their business. So here goes!
Take yourself seriously
Whatever your business idea is, you have to take yourself seriously. Women especially tend to downplay what they’re working on. ‘Oh, it’s just a blog!’ I’d say to people. ‘It’s just a hobby!’
And, honestly, my accountant was pretty dismissive for a long time. I wasn’t making much money, and I was still financing projects out of pocket. When it started to make a little revenue, he started asking about checking accounts, LLCs, and taxes. My response was a dumbfounded look.
I was taking cues about my business from someone else, rather than taking control for myself. Starting with a clear ‘this is a business’ mindset will help you get your ducks in a row much faster. And that will save you tons of time in the long run. Don’t let defeating thoughts slow you down.
The foundation is key
This starting a small business checklist is exactly what I needed six year ago. Yes, you need to figure out the legal structure for your business. Yes, you need a business checking account. Yes, you need a system to track expenses.
As someone who enjoys the creative let’s-make-stuff part of blogging, these details are like sticking pins in my eye. It took me 5 years (!) to get around to using a program to track expenses. And shocker, it’s approximately 1,000x times easier than doing it manually.
And while you’re establishing the right financial practices, I highly recommended applying for a trademark of your company name, if it’s available.
Don’t try to be good at everything
One of the hardest things for a small business owner to do is ask for help. Entrepreneurs are used to doing everything for ourselves! I figured out how to start a website on my own. I taught myself about WordPress, ad networks, social media, etc. But the biggest change in my blog happened when I gave up on learning something.
I posted on CraigsList to find a freelance photographer and was flooded with responses. As soon as a pro started shooting my DIYs, blog traffic took off. To this day, I still struggle with not being able to take a darn picture. Other bloggers take gorgeous photos, how is this a skill I can’t figure out?
Some days I beat myself up for not being able to take pretty pictures. Some days I realize it’s okay to not be good at everything. That I’m a better blogger when I take advantage of other people’s talents. Everyone needs support.
And to grow my business, I’ll take all the financial support I can get. The SunTrust Small Business Best Practices Guide is really helpful because they share practical business advice for every step of way, from starting a small business to thinking about retirement. I’ve already downloaded it to discuss the next time I see my accountant. I don’t want to learn any more lessons the hard way.