What I wish I’d known when I started out

I’m often asked by my coaching clients what I wish I had known when I launched my business. Of the numerous lessons I learned the hard way, these are the 10 I see as key:

  • Make all your decisions with the assumption that you will still be in business in five years. Knowing you’ll live with the long-term results of your choices encourages you to make wise decisions.
  • It’s always about the client’s needs; it is never about your qualifications. Never pitch a service until you know why your client would want it.
  • Create what Alan Weiss calls “marketing gravity” — you want to attract clients, not chase after them.
  • Your clients are paying for results, not activity. Focus on what differentiates you from the $15/hour “professional” services on the web.
  • You have to initiate discussions about money and payment with your clients; remember: it’s business, not personal.
  • Volunteering is a tremendously effective way to market yourself, provided you are member-facing and you highlight your professionalism.
  • Until a prospective client is willing to commit to a project, you’re not talking to a client.
  • Your clients will be the source of your ideas for new products or services. Listen to them when they say, “I don’t know if you do this, but could you…?”
  • Time management is critical. Can you stay focused and productive without an office structure or looming deadline?
  • You will find this an even more rewarding job than you expected!

What do YOU wish you had known when you launched your business?

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