This is the first post from my upcoming series which will cover my experience of starting my own business. I talked in my previous post about this new chapter and what I hope the blog will bring in the future. This post will focus on how I have arrived at this position, the difficulties I’ve faced and ultimately will face, and what the future looks like for me.
I have always been interested in the entrepreneurial world. I won my University’s entrepreneurship award for a project I did during my final year. I loved the hands-on pragmatic approach and creativity that is required. It takes a great amount of energy and passion starting your own business and this is something I crave. I’ve always felt like at some point in my life I would work for myself, doing something I was proud of creating. I didn’t necessarily know what it would be, but I just thought that at some point I would tackle it.
I’m the type of person who can easily get caught up in some new ‘life hack’ for starting a business, or a new podcast on entrepreneurs, or a new book about marketing and disruption. I think it’s important to never stop learning and taking in new information, through whatever medium. Some might argue I should be putting the time I spend reading the latest tips on starting your own business into actually starting my own business. Elon Musk famously said ‘I’ve actually never read any books on time management’. But most of the time I listen to podcasts while commuting, or I read before bed. I think podcasts are such a great and practical medium to take in new information. I might do a post sharing my favourite podcasts and some books I’ve found useful at some point. I listen to podcasts either through Apple’s app or NPR’s One app which has a lot of great podcasts too.
So where am I at with my ‘business’? I use quotations because, for me, it doesn’t really feel like a business yet, not until I actually start making some money at least. But before I jump into where I am today, let me take you back to when this first all came about. It was sometime in March, a big job prospect I was banking on had recently turned me down during one of the final stages which still felt raw. I knew I wanted a career in marketing. I was also mainly applying for positions within digital marketing which often included an aspect of social media marketing.
I was considering all sorts of options, one which included returning to Costa Rica and starting to freelance as a social media manager for local businesses. I knew I was capable and had the expertise, I also knew some local businesses who would’ve potentially took me on to start off with and allow me to build a credible portfolio. This idea began to grow and fester in my mind, but I was reluctant to, what felt like, give up here at home and commit to a future back in Costa Rica.
One day I was speaking with my father about this idea and he mentioned something which had been right under my nose all along. It’s important to note he runs his own business selling and servicing EPOS systems, for which he has a large clientele of restaurants and bars. He thought, why not try it here at home, using his connections, and running some form of social media management within the hospitality industry. Immediately it made sense. Why not? This was something I wanted to do, and now hundreds of potential clients were on the table. At least that’s what the optimist in me thought.
I wanted it to be so much more than just maintaining the Facebook page of a few local restaurants, I wanted to use the latest technology, create an immersive experience for businesses and their audience, whether using drones, 360-degree cameras, or eventually virtual platforms. I used the past tense ‘wanted’ because, even though that is still every intention and vision of mine, I need to start at the very beginning and take the right steps to get there.
I have big ambitions which seem silly and outlandish, especially when I still don’t have any clients. But this has always been my problem, I race ahead with an idea, I dream and get carried away. Which is good at times, but it’s also counterproductive right now. Did I jump into this too naively? Who am I to say I can and should start a digital marketing agency? What’s more is how frustrating it is to imagine and visualise your idea in its success, and then struggle to take the very first steps.
I’ve set up my website, to a level at least I am happy with for now. I would like it to feature a blog and more importantly a portfolio of my clients and how I have helped them. I have begun distributing some print advertisement detailing a free social media audit on offer, and this has gone out to over 1,500 local businesses. I’ve set up a bank account and registered the company, I’ve been on several social media courses to further my understanding, everything is in place. All I am missing now is the clients.
I was under the impression this would happen overnight. I genuinely believed my leaflet would generate at least a 1% success rate. Which would’ve meant 15 potential clients at least enquiring and being interested in the audit. Even if only a third of them had become paying clients, that would have been a great start for me. Realistically I need ten clients for this to be considered some form of success, this would both warrant a full demand of my time and would generate a good source of income. But right now, I don’t think the leaflet is going to generate one client. Over half of them have gone out and I haven’t heard anything yet. Not a peep.
It’s just been the end of May bank holiday and as of today, now restaurants and bars will be a little quieter, I am going to begin cold calling. I am a little reluctant to start doing this. Quite frankly because I am not very good at it and even though I realise many rejections are expected, it’s still defeating. Again, maybe I was naïve to think I wouldn’t visit a place where I needed to start with cold calling. But the reality is I do, and a lot of it. I know once I have a few clients my whole outlook will change, I’ll have a lot more faith in this and will be able to use that positive energy to continue growing. But right now, it’s very difficult. Finding the energy and faith to know this is really going to work.
I need to build a portfolio up, not only for potential clients to see but for my own faith. I am confident in my own ability to pull this off, but at the same time, I need the reassurance of knowing that I can actually do it.
I apologise for the long introduction and lack of visuals. The following start-up updates will tell more of a story and I’ll try to avoid the longwindedness. This post was originally over 2000 words when I wrote it, there are lots I wanted to say and cover and I feel like I’ve just rambled my way through it. Hopefully, the following posts will be more straight forward and offer some real insight. Expect an update on how the cold calling is going by the end of the week.