Surviving your first year in business is tough, so today I wanted to share five things I've given up as an entrepreneur which has helped my small business grow.

They say surviving your first year in business is the hardest task you’ll face. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since launching my own business is that no day is the same. Although I can say with certainty I have more control than ever before over the direction of my career, there are things you quickly learn you need to give up if you’re going to make a success of being self-employed. And I feel like, 6 months into working freelance, I can confidently say what those things are…

Comparing Your Journey To Someone Else’s

Your level of success isn’t the same as someone else’s so comparing your journey is a losing battle. I would often find myself sucked into the comparison whirlwind of seeing other people’s into photography or huge houses, perfectly decorated, and start to doubt my abilities.

But as time passed I realised, just because I’m interiors blogger in a small rental who more often than not takes an out of focus picture, it doesn’t make me any less of a success.

I started to celebrate the mini-milestones in my own career and stopped worrying about others’ success. We can sometimes become blind to everything we’re achieving, undermining ourselves simply because we’re not at the same level as those we admire. The only person I compare myself to now is yesterday’s me.

Get Rich Quick Webinars

Let me just start this with a disclaimer. I think certain webinars can be absolutely fantastic. I’m a huge fan of Jenna Kutcher and Melyssa Griffin’s way of teaching. Hell, I absolutely binged on webinars when I decided to go it alone. Everything from how to grow my Instagram, to writing the perfect headlines, to driving traffic through Pinterest.

But there are so many out there that you can quickly reach information overload, where one piece of advice conflicts the other and you’re left feeling even more frazzled than before.

I decided to stay clear of ones like “How I Made £20k In 24 Hours” and “Get 10K Instagram Followers In Less Than A Month”. You know the ones. The get-rich-quick webinars that have become an internet phenomenon this year. What these teachings fail to tell you most of the time is that £20k wasn’t just sitting in their banks – they’d spent £10k of that on marketing their service or product, £5k in other expenses and they had a left-over profit of £5k. Not to be sniffed at I know, but all I’m trying to say is don’t believe all you watch.

Plus, you watch the videos, you read the blog posts, you put every single thing into action and you still don’t reach what they’ve promised, so what happens? You feel crappy about yourself and your abilities. No-one needs that, especially not at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.

Saying Yes To Every Email

When I first became self-employed I said yes to pretty much every opportunity that landed in my inbox. One, because I suddenly had all this free time and I was damned if I was going to waste it. And two, I was scared to turn paid things down in case that was the last drop of money to ever grace my bank account.

But what I quickly discovered was, saying yes to everything meant the elusive “burn-out” was ever only one blog post away.

So, instead of making numerous trips down to London for press events – which to be honest I got very little out of – and saying yes to every single campaign, I became selective in terms of what I who I wanted to work with.

And guess what? I’ve had more time to dedicate to working with amazing brands since. Yes, I’ve turned down well-paid work because I didn’t have time in my schedule or on reflection, it wasn’t a good fit for Apartment Number 4. But now I feel so much more in control over my schedule, and I’m excited about working with some amazing, well-fitting brands. 

Focusing On The Wrong Channels

I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve spent worrying about Instagram and my distinct lack of growth on that channel, especially in comparison to those in the same industry as me.

I’d compare Likes, worry my photography wasn’t good enough, wonder why brands wanted to work with me when I “only” had 5k followers – the list goes on.

It was only when I actually stopped to take a look at how much traffic was being driven from my social media platforms, that I realised I’d been channeling my focus in the wrong direction.

Yes, Instagram was amazing for engagement, being inspired and creating a beautiful grid, but Pinterest was a huge part of my growth, and that’s what I needed to concentrate on. Since I started pouring my efforts into that, I’ve grown from 22k monthly views on Pinterest to a staggering 1.8million a month. Which in turn is reflected in the number of people visiting Apartment Number 4 on a daily basis, almost tripling the page views from the start of the year.

The key here is to not worry about what other people are focusing on – take some time to look at the analytics of your business and see which platforms are aiding your growth. Once you know this, spend time becoming a master in your chosen subject and you’ll soon see growth. The best part is, now I’m not (as) worried about Instagram, I’ve seen a real shift in my creativity and love for it again.

Negative Money Mindset

If you’ve listened to my Put Yourself First podcast with follow entrepreneur Kat Horrocks, you will have heard me talk about money blocks. Our view of money can make or break our businesses and I had to rethink my whole attitude to earning more and my worth as a business woman when I became self-employed.

I ran Apartment Number 4 alongside a well-paid job in the publishing industry for 8 years and the majority of that time I was completely underselling myself – my view was, well if I don’t charge much, then the brand won’t be mad when my photography doesn’t turn out as well as other bloggers. What kind of warped mindset is that?

So I changed.

I began listening to money-focused podcasts and audio books (Get Rich Lucky Bitch is my current one), writing down money blocks that I had and letting them go, realising it wasn’t “bad” to want to earn a decent amount of money, and I raised my prices.

And do you know what happened when I raised my prices to reflect the work I was creating? I continued to get work, and I’m earning more a month that I did in my old office job. I don’t take anything for granted, I’m grateful to be paid to do something I love, and I work hard 5-6 days a week (can we not mention those two days last week when I sat on the sofa and stared into space), but I know my worth and I know how much a positive attitude towards money can change the game completely.

Obviously, each journey is different and you might take a look at this list and realise you’ve already given up most of these points. But I wanted to share incase there was anyone else out there questioning their entrepreneurial path and whether it’s the right thing to continue with. I’m there with you, trust me. But just giving up these five things has changed my work attitude completely.

Is there anything here you particularly struggle with with surviving your first year in business? Let’s chat in the comments below. 

In case you missed it: How To Stay Motivated, Kick-Ass & Achieve Your Goals | What To Do When Business Is Slow | What Are My Future Goals As A Full-Time Blogger?

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