5 Steps to Realizing Your Business Dream

This post is written by Jen Havice, a forty-something blogger, writer, and social media consultant. When not helping small businesses navigate the social networking jungle or writing commentary for her humor blog, she chases after two large dogs and rides an even larger horse. She and her husband call Minneapolis home. 

When I turned 40, something unexpected happened. I freaked out. 

It happens to most of us at some point in our lives. We reach a milestone and suddenly find ourselves suffering from a bad case of existential angst. Something needs to change and it can no longer wait. 

In my case, that something was a career (or lack thereof.) I had moved from city to city with my husband over the years for his job. I worked a bit here, volunteered there but, all in all, I never found my own path. Four years ago on my birthday, that all changed. 

1. Stop Being Scared 

I know that’s easier said than done. Believe me, I’ve spent the last 44 years being scared of something. I’ve been afraid of failure, success, offending someone, not being liked.

You name it, I feared it. The worst part, I allowed those fears to keep me from pursuing work I really wanted to do. 

2. Just Do Something 

I started writing and developed a blog. At first, there wasn’t much of a plan. This was good and bad. I needed some time at the beginning to figure out where I wanted to go.

I was not prepared to jump into a full fledged business. I knew I wanted to write online and create some sort of personal brand.

I also knew that getting bogged down in too many details before I had dipped my toes in the shallow end might have spelled the end before I had begun. 

3. Get the Facts, Get Focused…

…and then worry about quitting your day job. 

I spent well over two years writing social commentary, building up a following on my website and learning just about every possible way to use social media to get myself noticed.

That was all well and good but I wasn’t able to monetize it. I realized that I was tired of working for free. 

At the same time, I had people coming out of the woodwork asking me for social media advice and help. “Why not integrate this budding social media consulting into my existing website,” I thought. I did and it was a bad idea. 

For all intents and purposes, I had developed a personal brand with my social commentary blog. The people who came to it along with my Facebook page had certain expectations.

Getting social media tips were not part of them. My readers were confused. Engagement suffered. I was frustrated.

4. Find a Mentor and Make a Plan 

I dawdled for more than a year, doing a bit of social media work while further muddling my brand. I finally understood that if I was going to make a successful go of my business, I had to brand it separately and take it seriously. 

Part of taking a business seriously is investing in it and yourself. Coaches are not just for high school football teams.

There are plenty of people out there who can help you frame your business and get you moving down the right track. Hire one. It’s money well spent. 

5. Work Within Your Skill Set 

When I first started out, I let myself get overwhelmed. People would ask me to help them with certain projects and without delving enough into the nitty gritty, some of the time I would find myself working on things that were just beyond my skill set.

I would spend too much time on a task and then not bill for all of it. I was doing a disservice to both myself and my clients. 

These days, I only take on work that I know I can do well and makes sense for my business. When I’m faced with something I need to get done, I ask myself if I have the time and skills to do it efficiently. If not, I outsource it. 

Remember to take into account how much you charge for your time. If it takes you three hours to do something that will only take someone else 20 minutes, it probably makes sense to pay that person to do it. The frustration factor alone may be enough to tip the scales. 

What is getting in the way of your business goals? Let us know what sparked you to start down a new path.

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  1. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I went through a somewhat similar situation last year in finally leaving my job to help my wife run our business. We dealt with a lot of fear and a lot of “what-ifism”, which I think is only natural to a certain extent. Now that I can look back on the last year I begin to wonder why on earth I waited so long and how that can motivate me to grow our business.

    • Jen Havice says:

      I’m glad you could relate. I think this is something that resonates for a lot of people. Sometimes, we need to stop worrying so much about failure and go for it. That applies not just to business but everything in life.

  2. Ijeoma Stephanie says:

    Good feedback, especially about starting a blog. We have similarities in that we research and study social media. I have friends and colleagues interested in working with me. Now I need to take my expertise to the next level.

    • Jen Havice says:

      Good luck! I think the biggest challenge I’m facing now is getting real focused on what I’m offering. People sometimes forget that that services are in a sense still products. Knowing how to frame what you’re selling is half the battle.

    • Jen Havice says:

      Thanks, Kyle! I’ve been searching out new mentors recently to help me get to the next level. We all need other people to keep us moving. Some of them can be good friends with expertise but I’m not opposed to paying someone when it’s needed.

  3. Jo Lynn Deal says:

    Wonderful post. I especially love your quote “coaching isn’t just for high school football teams!” It’s so true! Thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • Jen Havice says:

      Jo Lynn – You are so not alone. This is why I’ve decided to be honest about my journey. It’s so frustrating to feel like you have skills and something to offer but are afraid to take the leap because that negative voice in your head is telling you that you can’t or aren’t good enough. Be practical without keeping yourself down.

  4. I think the last part, by far is the biggest piece once the decision to push forward has been made. The first thing I tell people, whether they are starting their first venture or experienced at running a business, is to outsource everything they don’t do as a service for their customers. Simply put, why would you waste time doing your own books, payroll, legal stuff, or anything else that would occupy the same time you could be doing billable tasks. As you said Jen, it probably would take someone with experience a fraction of the time and end up saving the business quite a bit in the long-run.

    • Jen Havice says:

      Exactly! The problem is that so many of us forget that thinking we are being frugal and saving money. On the flip side, this is a challenge in marketing my own business. Getting people to understand the value in using social media effectively and efficiently has been an uphill challenge. While it’s by no means rocket science, it can become a black hole if you let it. Waste time monkeying around on it or pay someone else to get you on the right track. Makes sense to me.

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