In this episode, I talk about all the advice I wish I'd been given when I first went freelance and started growing my own business. Brace yourself as this episode is a full-packed guide of things you need to know to set up your business for success.
Being overwhelmed with things to do in business is connected to fears and beliefs about what you actually think is possible. (01:51)
Everything that we do is linked to a belief. (5:57)
It’s not about finding a unique thing that no one else is doing but finding what you enjoy doing. (7:09)
People relate to you, not your expertise. Think about who you want to help. (8:49)
Having a business plan gives you clarity on the next steps to take (9:50)
It is crucial to know who your ideal clients are. (10:48)
Setting up your finances. (11:56)
Making sure you are ready to do your marketing (14:08)
Checking the things to do in your business and if there are tools or others that can help you. (16:11)
Investing in the right tools. (18:33)
The importance of insurance (19:40)
Hi, I’m Ruth, a business coach specializing in helping freelancers and business owners adjust their mindset and their marketing so they can get fully booked with clients they LOVE to work with. I’ve helped hundreds of self-employed women achieve the time and money freedom they craved.
I’ve started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I’d created a glass ceiling for myself.
It was in 2017 when I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time that I wasn’t doing what I loved and fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. I don’t want the same to happen to you.
You can expect practical advice, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb all the obstacles you have been putting in your way.
I’m on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business.
Free stuff: https://www.ruthgilbey.com/next-client
Hello and welcome to the inspiring women in business podcast. My name is Ruth Gilbey, and I'm a business and marketing coach. I'm on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business. Now I started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was just grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I created a glass ceiling myself. It was in 2017 when I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time, that I wasn't doing what I loved, and I wasn't fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. And I don't want the same thing to happen to you. You can expect practical advice, interviews, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb all the obstacles you've been putting in your way.
Hello, and welcome to today's episode, which is all around the advice I wish I'd been given when I first went freelance and when I started growing my own business. For some reason, I don't know why I just didn't really pick up the books around being a freelancer or starting your own business. I didn't look online. I didn't listen to podcasts, etc. I don't think it wasn't as readily available back then. I think when I went freelance, it was about six years ago. I don't know where I learned about being a freelancer was kind of scrambling around working out as I went along.
So I've put together this guide of the things that I wish I had known about when I was first starting out. Now I think when we are thinking about going freelance or starting a business, we can get stuck in the kind of practicalities and technicalities of what that all means. And we can get overwhelmed by the massive to-do list. You can end up getting so overwhelmed that you don't end up taking any action. And from what I've seen from my clients and customers that I've been working with, over the years, this overwhelmed to do with the amount of things that we need to do, or you need to do is connected with your fears and your beliefs about what you actually think is possible. So what I want to do today is really drill down the things that I think are going to help you really move the needle in your business really help you with your mindset and your confidence around growing your business. So that it makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable. It helps you get rid of the things that aren't going to help you move forward in your business and focus on the things that are going to move you forward.
So as I say, I didn't spend time working on my own self-development or mindset when I first went out as a freelancer. And I think I always used to say, and it was always every year, a new year's resolution would come around. And I would be saying I wish I had a better work-life balance. And I think that the crux of that was only really in the last couple of years after getting coaching and working on my own self-development as well and getting more aware of what's going to actually support me and help me move forward. And what's going to help others move forward. Was this whole thing about having a work-life balance and keeping things separate, really wasn't serving me and wasn't helping me move forward because I hadn't made that connection that everything is interconnected. Whether you get a good night's sleep, whether you get your exercising you whether you spend time with your loved ones, whether you spend time winding down or having fun will help you not only in your life but will help you with your business. And this was a game-changer for me because I used to see those things as a luxury as an indulgence. And I should be, you know, working really, really hard. And if this isn't hard work and it doesn't hurt, then I haven't worked hard enough. And that's from this mentality. I think that is ingrained in us when we were probably kids that to do well in business or to do well in life, we have to work extremely hard, and that's what leads to burnout. And when I reframe that, and actually everything I'm doing is going to help me be more successful and make me show up as a better version of me, things started to really slot into place.
So that's my number one piece of advice for you that you're well your mind you're looking after yourself is the number one thing that needs to be prioritized, and you're working on your mindset and having a healthy mindset that you continue to work on is something that you need to develop. It comes with experience self-development with self-coaching or coaching. And it helps. It's what helps you work through the ups and downs of your business and your life as well. So that's why separating out life and business, I don't think it serves us particularly well compartmentalizing. So for me, being a freelancer and working for other people was a much safer option. And being a business owner felt really, really scary and as if it was going to be really hard work. And I realized I wasn't learning or reaching my full potential by staying as the contractor or the employee. So it's also about the stories that you're actually aware of, the stories that you're telling yourself when it comes to what you want your life and business to look like.
Now, everything that we do is linked to a belief. There's a belief attached to everything. This was another game-changer for me that when you actually realize that we tell ourselves a story, or there's a belief attached to every single thing that we do, and those beliefs service in some particular way. And it's understanding those beliefs, understanding what does saying you can't do something, give you. That's a big question. What does it give you? It might give you security. It might keep you safe. What it doesn't give you is it doesn't allow you to grow or move forward. It keeps you stuck. So being self-aware, working on yourself, asking yourself questions, but being resilient and looking after those core things that help you show up as the best version of you are the most important things in your business.
Now the next thing that I wanted to talk to you about is your values and trying to find that unique thing that you want to do. So this is a big thing for people. And it's attached to permission and wondering what do you want your business to actually look like? Don't spend time trying to find the one unique thing. It's not always about finding the one thing that no one else is doing. It's about you doing what you enjoy, and you are the one unique thing that makes your business stand out. Now, a lot of the time, we're in this echo chamber where we're looking around us. And we think we can't find that we can't do X, Y, and Zed. But that's how social media and advertising works. That's the way it works in life that as soon as you decide to become a coach to be a digital marketer or to have a particular profession or business or start a business in something, you will go online and see 100 other people doing that as well. And you'll think you can't then do that thing. And that's not true. There isn't one unique thing out there. And if we allow ourselves to not take action because someone else is doing something, that will end up taking no action. So allow yourself and give yourself permission to dial into not what anyone else is doing. Don't get sucked into comparisonitis, but really dial into what's that soul lead thing that you want to do for your business? What's the thing that you're really passionate about? What are your values? What are the things that you love doing? Spend some time really thinking about that? What are your non-negotiables? What do you want your business to actually look like? And remove any sort of comparisonitis or competitor research at this point and really dial into that you are more likely to make a success out of something that is passion led in life and business. So it's really dialing into that first.
The next thing is don't let your fear of whether you're ready to do something stop you from taking action because people relate to you, not your expertise. If we're always striving to be the expert, we're never going to take action, are we? If we're actually thinking about who am I going to help? Who's my ideal customer? How do I help them? Or actually not? How do I help them? If you just wanted to show up and help one person today? What would that actually look like where you are in your journey is going to be more useful to your customers than the person you see as an expert. Have you ever listened to a guru or all said expert and thought, well, that's great, but I don't feel you really get me because they could be too far removed from where you actually are to be able to help you? They're too far along in their journey. So think about that when you're thinking about your customer and how you can help your customer.
The next thing I wanted to talk to you about is making sure that you have a plan. This is something that I think a lot of people and I noticed this during my program when I said right in one of the modules I was saying write out your business plan. So many people had never actually done that. And what I said to my clients and customers is if you've never had and worked on an extended business plan, and you find it really off-putting, just start with one page and keep adding to it, but actually write down what you want, you know, I'm encouraging you to create one, even if you aren't going to share your business plan with anyone else. It's such a good exercise to do it alongside your goals, your goals, your business, and your life goals. As I said, right at the beginning, everything is going to be interconnected. And without a clear business plan and business goals, you can't make a start about what you're trying to achieve. It will give you focus and clarity before you actually start the next steps of getting doing your marketing and your sales and attracting your ideal client.
Also, part of that is actually really dialing into who you're actually serving who your client actually is. So many people skip the step of really understanding who their client is and don't focus on who their ideal clients are. And then they end up not being able to connect with them, and their content and their messaging won't resonate with them. Take time out to research your clients, talk to them and create your buyer personas. But don't base it on assumptions. If you have to start somewhere with assumptions and creating a kind of fabricated client, then you need to be open to as you get to know them in reality that you change that and you update it. But a persona or understanding of who your ideal client is should be based on reality who they really are. Have a think about who is an ideal client of yours that you've already got? Could you have a conversation with them and ask them questions and really understand their pain points and who they are and why they buy from you, why they buy from you, or why they work with you.
The next thing is is to get really interested in your finances. I always say get an accountant and get yourself a sound invoicing system. Something like a free agent or zero or QuickBooks and HMRC is moving over to make tax digital. I think most people have to do it now already. So you'll need to do all your invoicing and bookkeeping, using a system and process that actually complies. I use QuickBooks and receipt bank, and a lot of my clients use Freeagent and Zero as well. I also, as I say, invest in accounting and bookkeeping service as well, to me, it's just an essential investment, as I'm getting financial advice, as well as an accountant. And when I started out, I only had an accountant who did my tax return, and I did everything else as I went along. But as my business has grown, so did my need for more financial support. Be conscious of your finances, be aware of your finances, if you have your receipts in a draw, and you're doing, and you're looking at them once a year, this isn't the way to operate your business because you won't understand your cash flow, you won't understand what your running costs are for your business, you should be doing this as you go along. And these systems will take the pain out of it for you. So from now on you what you should be doing is as your invoicing or as you're getting your expenses in, you're uploading them into something as you go along, and your bookkeeping is happening as you're going along, not a once a year thing. Otherwise, you're not just going to be aware of what your running costs are or what you should actually be charging to run your business, and you could get into a cash flow problem. So being conscious, being aware, being interested in your finances is really, really important if you can try and make it fun and interesting as well. I've got just too many clients who used to say to me, they don't anymore, that they're behind on their invoicing or they're behind on chasing payments, or they don't review their costs and their pricing, they don't have a handle on it. And this is a number one priority for you. Otherwise, you're not really living in the real world of understanding what your running costs are and what you should be charging.
The next thing that I wanted to talk about is making sure that you are ready to do your marketing as well. You're getting yourself ready. The most important thing I think the number one thing when it comes to your marketing is actually having a website, and having a website set up that runs and works for you is interesting. So many people don't see a website as part of their marketing, and it is the most important part of your marketing. And yes, some people get lots of success without a website and get work. I've seen that happen. But can you grow your business without a website, and what could be the cost of your business by not investing in having a good website? All I've seen is as soon as people have a website how what impact has that had for generating leads and sales for their business and building authority as well. Take your marketing seriously and be strategic, and expect to spend at least 50% of your time doing your marketing for your business that includes your website that includes building relationships with people and networking online. Without marketing, you won't generate many leads and sales. And you're going to be just relying on the contracts that you have, and they could dry up. And that could leave you. So you need to have a system in place that's running all the time, get clear on what you're offering as well, you need to be clear on what your offers are. It's amazing how many customers are left wondering how you can actually help them if you don't have clear messaging. They need to understand how they can buy from you. They need to understand just really simply and clearly. And that's where your website comes in as well. What have you got work with me page on your website that has really, really clear offers? Get your social media channels ready as well. If you don't have a website yet, get your social media channels ready and make sure your LinkedIn profile is top-notch and up to date so that you can direct customers to it if you don't have a website. And also, don't try and be on every single social media channel. Pick the two where your customers are and the two that you're going to actually do really well as well.
The next thing I want to talk to you about is everything that you're doing in your business. I want you to have right from the start or make a start right now is everything that you do write a list of all the jobs that you actually do and think about whether you should be doing them whether there's a tool that could help you do them better, or whether you could get some support doing them right from the start. I mean, some people have said to me, I outsourcing when you're starting a business is not what people are thinking about. And I disagree with that. I think we need to be thinking about it right from the start. Outsourcing doesn't need to mean staff or investing in lots and lots of hours with someone. It just could be a few hours a week or a few hours a month and see outsourcing and getting support as the way that you're going to grow your business and that you need to be reviewing it all the time. You need to be thinking about what are the things that are keeping you creatively busy in your business and not growing your business or not doing the things that you love, what things are taking you away from the things that could move the needle in your business and getting used to outsourcing or getting used to finding ways of doing things faster, as well. So invest in support. What you should be doing is spending time on your business and thinking about the things that are going to move your business forward. The other thing that I would say is, you know, give yourself a startup budget as well, the amount of time I've seen people say to me this year, I'm going to launch my website or this year, I'm going to do this in my business. And they don't do it because they've tried to do it all themselves. And they've become busy in their business. And they are not working on their business. They're working in their business. And a website is one of the biggest things that I see people. They're still working on their website A year later, even though they might hate doing it. They might hate working on their website. They might not know how to do it. So invest in getting support. Either getting your website up or outsourcing someone to do it for you. A website is never finished. It's going to be something that you'll be using all the time in your business, something that you're going to be updating all the time, every week, I'm working on my website or adding a blog or adding content or working on my offers. And my website is working for me all the time, generating leads and sales every day—my list building with my website as well.
So the next thing is is I've touched on this before, but it's about investing in the right tools, I used to spend a lot of time I used to try really hard to not spend money on tools, and I probably wasted a lot of time by using the free tools. Now I'm really happy to invest in tools that are going to save me time and make my life easier. Sometimes the free version is excellent and will do and will actually do, especially in the early years of your business. However, sometimes it's a bit like trying to do something with one hand tied behind your back. I'm not saying special on every tool out there. Use them for free or make the most of the free trials. But don't deny yourself the full bells and whistles of a product if it's going to save you time and money. If it saves you time to solve a problem, then it's worth the investment. Also, don't get into tools overload, where you're just spending time reviewing tools all the time. The best tool is the one that you're actually using and getting FOMO about this tool or that tool all the time. It's just not going to help you move forward, get using a tool, stick with it and move forward with your business.
Okay, so let's just recap what I talked about today. I talked about number one priority when it comes to thinking about your business is you, your mindset, your confidence, your well being is going to help you show up as the best version of you and really dialing into what your values are and what you want your business to actually look like giving yourself permission to explore what you want. Number two is making sure you have a plan, and you have a business plan, and that you're conscious of your finances and interested in your finances as well. And you're setting yourself up with the right tools and support. Number three was about having a marketing strategy offline and online marketing strategy which connects with your sales and connects with your messaging and connects with you connecting with your ideal customers and building you know, leads, and sales to grow your business. Number four is making sure you invest in support and keep reviewing what you need to outsource and accept that outsourcing is going to be part of something that you do and shows you that your business is growing. And the fifth one was getting yourself professionally set up, getting insurance contracts the right policies in place, making sure that you are compliant when you're processing data as well. I hope you found that useful. I'll see you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening and subscribing to the inspiring women in business podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. And if you did, I would love it if you would leave a review. Now, if I've whet your appetite to learn more about how to play bigger in business and how to challenge your own beliefs around what's possible, then why not join my free Facebook group called the inspiring women in business Facebook group. When you join, you'll receive some free gifts from me showing how to make those first steps into leveling up your mindset and business.