Late last year, I announced that Karen and I were launching our resume writing and career services business on a full-time basis.

It was a massive decision for us and one that we didn’t take lightly, but we haven’t looked back since.

It hasn’t always been easy and we’re not where we want to be yet, but it has been an enormously fulfilling journey so far.

Whilst our business had been operating for two and a half years before we went full-time, we have been on a steady learning curve in 2013, so here are seven lessons that I’ve learned:

It won’t happen overnight – There was a part of me that hoped that as soon as we went full-time, then the extra clients that we needed would magically appear.  Alas, it was not to be.

We are making progress towards our revenue goals, but six months in, we still have a little way to go.  We’ve always said that if we can survive the first year, then we’ll be well on our way and that looks like it will be the case.

I need to keep hustling – One of the skills that I’ve had to learn is how to sell more effectively.  Since going full-time, we’ve introduced a couple of additional services that have enabled us to increase our revenue per client.  However, these services don’t sell themselves and require me to make a pitch to each and every client that comes our way.

In addition, I’ve had to start attending networking events to build our brand and get the word out.  It takes time and consistency, but I’m gradually building more and more connections in the community that are helping our business to grow.

We need to stay adaptable – I always suspected that our business would evolve when we went full-time and here are a few things that I didn’t expect:

  • It’s harder to get into speaking in schools than I imagined.
  • We are finding more clients interstate and internationally that I would have predicted.
  • Using Skype has been of enormous benefit when meeting with clients from a long way away.

As we continue to grow, I’m sure that our revenue streams will continue to evolve.  Some opportunities (such as speaking in schools) will take a long time to establish, whilst I’m sure that there are other opportunities that we haven’t even thought of yet.  The challenge is to persist and remain open to new ideas so that we can find ways to expand our niche.

We can’t rely on one marketing strategy – In the first six months of this year, here is a list of marketing strategies that we’ve attempted and analysed:

  1. Improved the SEO of our website.
  2. Started Google AdWords.
  3. Tweaked the wording of our local newspaper ads.
  4. Letterbox drops in the streets around our house.
  5. Placed our branding, phone number and website details on our car.
  6. Cold-called schools and other relevant groups.
  7. Increased our social media presence.
  8. Added a video introduction to our home page.
  9. Put our details on every free business listing we can find.
  10. Placed flyers and business cards in every community centre in the area.
  11. Spoken for free at numerous small business and community events.

I’m also attending a couple of career and small business expos in the next couple of months.  Basically, if we think that we can increase our brand awareness and get new clients from something, we’ll try it.

We understand that there isn’t one magic bullet, so having a diverse range of options is advantageous.  We measure the effectiveness of every marketing activity and have to be careful not to spread ourselves too thin, but I think that we’re getting the hang of it.

I need to keep praying – If you’re a Christian and you want to increase your prayer life, start your own business.  Seriously, you’ll be praying like never before.  I know I am.

It won’t happen in isolation – We have a fantastic group of friends who freely offer support and encouragement and I am incredibly grateful for that.  I have also been able to meet some terrific people who have given me the opportunity to speak at events, utilise my talents and promote our business and I appreciate each and every opportunity.

As I reflect on this, I am reminded that although Karen and I are the only people working in the business, we need others if our enterprise is going to flourish.

We can do it! – One of the risks for us with this venture is that neither Karen or I have had close family members who have owned their own business.  We weren’t raised in a culture of being our own bosses and there were a lot of unknowns for us.  As a consequence, we had (and to an extent, still have) a few questions that we ask often of ourselves:

  • Are we made for this?
  • Do we have the right skill-set and temperament for it?
  • Can we make this work?

Increasingly, I am confident that the answer to these questions is a resounding, “Yes!”

We love what we do and are getting great feedback from our customers which is very encouraging.

I know that there are no guarantees, but I am very optimistic about the future and look forward with great anticipation to the exciting future ahead.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far.  Your prayers, encouragement and interest in our journey is very much appreciated.

And if you, or someone you know, is looking for help with their career, you know where to find us.

If you’ve been in business for yourself, are there any lessons that you would like to pass on?

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