- Lauren Widrick
How I Would Start a Business from Scratch Today
I have been in business almost 6 (!!!) years. This milestone has me asking myself:
If I were starting a business today...what would I do differently?
Um, the answer is damn-near everything.
So, I created this mini-masterclass of an blog post for you.
If I were starting a new business from scratch TODAY, here's what I would do:
1. Open a business bank account
This is really embarrassing (especially because I come from investment banking!) but I failed to set up a separate bank account when I got started. My Side Hustle money got all jumbled with my main money and I ended up spending it on dumb shit – ultimately delaying my exit from corporate. Don’t skip this step. In fact, open two accounts: One for revenue and one to save for taxes.
2. Embrace the role of Chief Salesperson
UGH, I was SO terrible at Sales! You know why? I hated it. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I dreaded and avoided it. When I DID gather up the nerve, I sent cheesy cold messages and even made COLD CALLS (blech!!) which was miserable. I finally hired a sales coach who taught me that sales is simply about listening, connecting and illuminating possibility – all of which is a *gift* to the other person. Seriously, commit yourself to falling in love with sales. This not only determines whether or not you make money…it determines whether or not you enjoy your business!
3. Pick a niche (and stick with it for 6 months solid)
If I were starting today, I would pick a hyper-specific niche and roll with it for 6 months. Why? It’s SO much easier to find clients that way. I know…there are so many people you want to help. I did too. But pick one and hone it for a while. You’ll learn the art of messaging and marketing, which you can translate to any future niche. In the beginning I was a Life/Executive/Leadership/Business/Whatever You Need Coach and sales was so f*cking hard because my service wasn’t FOR anybody. So pick a lane, and know that it WILL change!
4. Send a friends and family e-mail
I was such a weirdo in the beginning stages. I didn’t have my shit tight, so I rarely talked about my business to people. I wish I knew how to shout it from the rooftops! I provide a template for this e-mail in Slay Your Side Hustle. It’s not a marketing e-mail to clients…it’s simply an announcement to your friends, family, and trusted colleagues – with a very clear ask for help making connections. Your first client is always within one degree of separation from you, and your friends and family truly DO want to help you. I promise!
5. Take three “beta” clients at 50% off to start
For a new business, I’d take 3 “beta” or tester clients at half price. Not free…but at a deep discount. Trust me, I’m ALL about charging your worth! But for these first 3 clients, I want you to get the wiggles out without any guilt that you “don’t know what you’re doing”. By your 4th client, you will have the swagger, experience, and testimonials to charge full price. Sales is SO energetic and the sooner you are confident about your service, the sooner you’ll become a sales ninja.
6. Host regular visibility moments
For this point, I was gonna say “have a social media strategy”…and then I remembered I made my first six figures in business with ZERO social media! No, I’m not suggesting that for you…but what I’m saying is social media can be a real distraction in the early days. You post and post and post…and no sales come in. I’d rather you give people a real taste of working with you! Host a webinar, get booked to speak, pitch yourself on podcasts, host a panel…you get it. This is the fastest way to expose people to YOU and how you work.
7. Have firm AF business hours
Sweet Lord Baby Jesus do not co-mingle your Side Hustle Hours with your day-job hours. My crazy ass was trying to squeeze coaching clients in-between work meetings and it was nuts. In fact, I even got caught by a d*ckhead coworker who tattled on me to my boss! So, to combat that…create firm, mutually agreed upon hours for your business with your employer AND family. No sneaking around…and no trying to do your business “after the kids go to bed”. Set the hours and stick to them!
This is me in month 11 of my Side Hustle...with a 14-day old baby. I'm really not even that good at time management...so if I can do it, trust me YOU can do it!
8. Have a clear financial exit plan from corporate
If I were starting a new Side Hustle, I’d create a super-clear financial forecast and work toward it. My original goal to exit corporate was 6 months…and that shit took me 2.5 years!! It was only in that final 6 months that my exit was locked in (when I gave a 6-month resignation notice to my employer). I provide a Freedom Fund calculator and forecast template in Slay Your Side Hustle to take the guesswork out of this.
9. Find a qualified business coach to shave years off the process
This may sound loaded coming from me, but I would absolutely find a business coach who had the playbook. I spent years guessing, googling, trying, failing, almost quitting, embarrassing myself...you get it. It was only when I hired a sales coach that I found my stride (and had my first 6-figure quarter!). My clients are moving SO much faster than I did. They learn the Setup > Socialize > Sell method in Slay Your Side Hustle that takes 90 days (not the 2.5 years it took me to figure it out!)
10. Surround myself with fellow Side Hustlers
OMG, my Side Hustle days were so lonely! My entire network was people in corporate, and starting a Life Coaching business felt like running off to the circus. This is 100% the reason I created Slay Your Side Hustle as a group program with over 80 alumni at this point! We call ourselves “the squad” and everyone truly gets this roller coaster we’ve signed up for…I’m telling you, the squad can be the difference between wanting to quit and sticking with it when shit gets hard.
WHEW! That was fun to go down memory lane. And now...it's your turn. What's the #1 thing you're struggling with in your business? Between myself and my clients, I've truly seen it all. Want some laser-business advice? Book a no-pressure activation call with me. It's FREE!