On the brink of burnout at your corporate job? Tierra Wilson knows the feeling. After seven years of working for a marketing agency with high-profile clients and even higher turnaround, she had the breakdown-turned-epiphany familiar to all entrepreneurs: She needed to rediscover her passion and start her own company. From that collapse sprung Studio Lavi (studiolavi.com), a “creative studio” specializing in marketing for lifestyle brands. Wilson shares her top five tips for beginner entrepreneurs to inspire your leap to self-employment.
1) Put sales and marketing first.
“The quickest way for your business to fail is to get caught up in doing the work, so much so that sales and marketing get puts on the back burner. Many new entrepreneurs live in a constant state of feast and famine. I’ve been there. You focus on sales and marketing, pause to do the work, then when the work is done you realize you have no customers, and you go back to sales and marketing again. This cycle gets put on repeat for years. As a business owner, generating new business is your first priority over everything else.”
2) Embrace your competition.
“It can be lonely being an entrepreneur, especially when you are just getting started. Your business takes first priority, and relationships tend to suffer. An unlikely source of encouragement and friendship? Your competition. Last year I co-started a group with other creative agency owners like me, and we talk every day in Slack. We share resources, tips, tricks and even send each other referrals. Reach out to others in your industry, and you’d be surprised at how your competition can turn into your biggest cheerleaders.”
3) Network in real life.
“Social media and online networking is a significant part of an entrepreneur’s business outreach. Around 80 percent of my business comes from online sources. The other 20 percent? Real-life networking. Close the laptop, put the phone down and hit the pavement. Do this once a week, or twice a month – whatever works for your schedule. Talk to people, go to networking events where your customers are, do speaking engagements and get the word out about your business.”
4) Be consistent.
“Most entrepreneurs have heard this before, but I can’t stress the importance of being consistent with your strategies. Once you decide what methods work for bringing business into your business, put all your energy into those methods and do them consistently. At Studio Lavi, we realized that Instagram marketing and email outreach were our biggest generators of income. So we always post to Instagram four to seven times a week, and we send emails consistently to our audience.”
5) Hire fast and fire fast.
“There is this old business mantra that says to ‘Hire slow, fire fast,’ but for startups and new entrepreneurs, to grow you have to hire fast and fire fast. You can’t do all the work if you want to build a growing business. If you are doing all the work, you are a freelancer. If freelancing is not your goal, you hire fast, and if someone is not working out, fire fast. As a startup, keeping bad hires on your staff can eat into your budget quickly.”