Entrepreneurship is a wild ride and not for the faint of heart. No one should expect to start a small business and not make mistakes. Here are the four biggest mistakes I made at the beginning of my path of entrepreneurship as well as the three things I got right, right away.
Four Mistakes I Made
I didn’t know my niche
There is something to be said for trying new things, seeing if it fits, and adjusting from there. The first time I delved into entrepreneurship, I tried to help too many people. I didn’t know exactly what the purpose of my business was. I spread myself very thin trying a lot of different things and ended up not feeling like I had traction in any one thing.
It’s great to try different things and do trial and error but I needed to eliminate things sooner and focus. Because I did not know exactly who I wanted to help and how, I ended up feeling tired and exhausted. And also broke. My ideal client was not coming to me because I didn’t know who they were.
I didn’t have a business coach or mentor
It would have benefited my business and my confidence to have invested in business coaching and guidance. At the time, money felt so very tight that it can feel really tricky to know where to spend vs. where to save and figure things out on your own.
Dietitians don’t usually have business training in college and so RD entrepreneurs have to figure out their path on their own. I would have leveled up faster had I hired a coach. One way in which I delegate is to use an accountant to do my taxes and be available for financial questions. I now have the confidence to know that I’m worth having team members to make my own business better. I use another to proofread my blogs.
I didn’t have a community of entrepreneurs
Being an entrepreneur is exciting but at times I can also be very lonely. These days I’m in Heather O’Neal Mastermind, The Write Your Way to Freedom course and Facebook group, Ana Reisdorf’s RDs who Write Facebook group and Erica Julson’s The Unconventional RD Facebook group. It is so refreshing to be surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs who want nothing more than to see one other succeed.
There are plenty of people who need the services of dietitians and writers and when we see each other as community members instead of competitors we all benefit. Having the ability to bounce ideas and questions off of one another, ride the bumps, and celebrate the wins, together, helps us all to do better and not feel isolated.
I didn’t write very effective blogs
Clients will want to work with you once they know, like, and trust you and feel that you have value to offer them. How can you address their pain points?
I was not using my blog as a way to leverage my business effectively. I didn’t know about SEO or proper formatting. I posted some new recipes and a few ideas to be healthier in general, but since I didn’t have a defined niche, my blog posts weren’t focused. Effective blogs need to let your ideal customer get to know you, build the value of what you have to offer and end with a strong call to action.
The Three things I got right, even at the beginning
I’m not afraid to make mistakes and try new things
There is no way to avoid making mistakes. And truly, the mistakes we make help us to improve our process and purpose.
I now have developed better discipline to focus on the things that make the most sense for my business right now, but I hope to always be open to new ideas. I continue to have new ideas pop into my head as I am walking my dog, chatting with other entrepreneurs and reading books.
I’ve always enjoyed having accountability partners
Years ago when I first delved into the world of entrepreneurship I would meet with two fellow entrepreneurs once or twice a month. Together, we would talk about our current business plans, sticking points, ask for advice, and set SMART goals to work on until our next meeting. If you did not achieve the business goals that you set at the previous meeting, the next bar tab was on you.
My accountability partners have changed over the years but I still appreciate the chance to connect with other entrepreneurs, encourage each other and help to provide the structure and accountability of deadlines. We are all human and benefit from a little bit of structure.
It’s ok to change your mind
My original small business was a nutrition counseling private practice with freelance writing and public speaking components. I didn’t quite realize that freelance writing was a potential full-time career all on its own. I’ve always loved to write and was swayed by the misconception that blogging is just a hobby.
I now know writing, blogging, and copywriting are viable full-time careers. Writing is what really makes me light up; it is the work I was meant to do, right now. Helping fellow dietitians to achieve their private practice goals is what makes me really happy. I am grateful for the clients that I had in my private practice and the lessons that I’ve learned; I was also grateful to let it go and move on.
How is your business thriving right now? Where are you struggling? If you’re looking for more clients, more time, or more compelling language on your website – let’s chat!