At Podcamp this past Saturday, I presented a session called How to Quit Your Job, Be Your Own Boss and Never Look Back and was excited to see that the room was PACKED (and that the rain and 9am start time didn’t keep people in bed). It’s clear that this is a big topic on people’s minds. After my presentation, a few people came up to chat with me afterwards. One conversation that stuck out to me (and a question I get A LOT) was when a gentleman asked, “How long did it take you to get a steady stream of clients in your business so that you felt secure and successful?”
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I haven’t arrived there yet. I started my health coaching practice two years ago this past February and it’s been steadily building since then. Honestly, there are months when I get no new clients. There are times when I’m scared shitless wondering if my business will ever pick back up and how in the world I’m going to pay my bills. Then there are times when new clients are lining up to work with me like I’m the messiah of nutrition and I’ll get a few new clients within a week.
At the same times, I HAVE noticed that clients come easier now that I’ve been in business for two years. Am I at a place where I can sit back and relax about it? No. I always have to be marketing my business, building it and searching for new clients. But as I said, it’s easier now.
In my Podcamp presentation, I said “treat the first few years of your business as an entrepreneurial ‘schooling’ period” and don’t throw in the towel too soon.
What do I mean by this? Well, say for instance, that you decide today that you want to become a doctor. What would you do? Well, you wouldn’t just quit your job and immediately become a doctor, right? You would quit your job and enroll in medical school. Once accepted, you would study for 4 years, then you’d do a few years of residency, and then you’d have to pass multiple medical exams. Then and ONLY then would you be able to start practicing medicine. But during that 6+ year learning period, (1) you will be working extremely hard learning what you need to know, (2) you will not make much money (in fact, you’ll most likely be going into a lot of debt), and (3) it will not be easy.
This is similar to what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. There is a learning period after you quit your job and before your business becomes the successful enterprise that you want it to be. Just like medical school, this is an important step in your life and your business that you can’t skip. This is the time when you learn everything you need to know to be successful with your business in the LONG-TERM.
The bottom line is that you need to give your business enough time to grow and to get through this “schooling” period. You need to have those ups and downs with clients or customers because those are the times that you learn the most. Don’t throw in the towel too soon. Give your business at least 2 to 3 years (if not more) before you even think that it won’t work. And trust me, it will get easier along the way.