By Kylee Sallak
I opened CityPole Studio 10 months ago and I would like to share the 6 things I have learned so far that NOBODY tells you.
A- BEING FOUND ONLINE ISN’T AN EASY TASK -AKA- GOOGLE IS A BULLY AND YOU HAVE TO PLAY BY THEIR RULES
It turns out, you have to bust your ass to get remotely close to the front page of a Google search. I genuinely had no idea. Who does? Unless you run a business who’s livelihood relies on being found online, you just assume Google knows all. It knows I want hardwood floor samples in a light wood color and that my boyfriend wants to shop for an engagement ring, so it must also know everything else in the known universe too.
How do you remedy this Google ranking issue:
B- YOUR BUSINESS IDEA IS GOING TO CHANGE- DON’T FIGHT IT
Yes your business plan is brilliant and lovely. But if you are resistant to change your business will fail. Being stubborn and immediately dismissing other people’s ideas, simply because it isn’t YOUR idea, is not going to help your business grow. It is very likely you will have to make major shifts and changes as you go.
This isn’t a bad thing. It is ok to admit other people are right and you were wrong. I think our egos tell us otherwise, but it is actually admirable, for example, to say, “My price point was way too high”, or “my target audience is not at all who I thought it was going to be”, and any other number of changes that aren’t part of your first plan. Does it really matter where good ideas come from? No. So relax and be open to ideas outside of your own.
C- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH OTHER ENTREPRENEURS
This is a lonely path. You put your life savings plus quite a bit of debt into opening a business. Suddenly you are in this really scary, really stressful place that very few or none of your friends understand. It helps to make an effort to connect with others in your field who understand what it is like to own a business. Cross promotion, sharing ideas, practicing pitches, being a sounding board and just in general feeling heard and understood is extremely beneficial.
I am fortunate that my boyfriend and my sister are both entrepreneurs, so I have them as a resource. But there are also other networking resources. I am a member of a networking organization called Body Local that holds weekly networking events for members to connect, network and grow their businesses. Body Local is specific to my industry, wellness and fitness, but just Google “network with entrepreneurs” and see what comes up near you and in your field.
D- YOU NEED AN ACCOUNTANT SOONER THAN YOU THINK
Get an accountant and get familiar with QuickBooks. The further behind you fall, the more tortuous QuickBooks will be. You are going to think an accountant isn’t really relevant right away and you will be totally wrong my friend. You will likely also be falling behind on paying important taxes if you don’t have an accountant telling you what you need to pay, when you need to pay it, and why you need to pay it. Just think of it like a wedding planner. And while you are doing that, I will be over here looking up accountants for you.
E- BUY ALL DOMAINS RELEVANT TO YOU AND YOUR BRAND BEFORE SOMEBODY ELSE BUYS THEM
Domains are not expensive. Unless it belongs to another person who is in the business of buying 1000s of domains and reselling them at way more because they know how badly you want it. To avoid that happening, just buy up lots of domains that are related to what you are doing and who you are.
For example, I realized wanted CityPole.com months after getting CityPoleStudio.com. I went to buy it, and it was gone. The person who owns it wouldn’t even negotiate with me. Here’s another example. I know 2 people who wanted, for personal branding reasons, to buy their first name last name .com domains, and when they went to purchase them, both had been purchased by competitors who wanted to prevent my friends’ businesses from growing. Kind of like playing chess. Think several moves ahead. Your future competitors are thinking ahead. Plan as though you know you will be successful and you are preemptively protecting your brand.
F- YOU ARE PROBABLY GOING TO NEED MORE MONEY -WAY MORE- MONEY THAN YOU BUDGETED FOR TO GET YOU THROUGH
Whatever amount of money you THINK will get you through to break even, double or triple it. However long you ASSUME it will take you to start making a profit, double or triple that length of time. This sounds like a real downer, but in all honesty it is better to know now and make plans for an investor or a business loan than to naively think everything will go according to your plan.
To wrap up, the entrepreneurial path is not for the thin-skinned. This shit is hard. And scary. And on the days I want to hide under my desk and cry because I am afraid I will fail, I let myself spend a few minutes freaking out, and then pull it together, smile, and get back to my mantra: “This is going to work. I am just like the tooth fairy. This is going to work”.