This week marks five years since I started Jess Creatives. Of course, this is where I say that it’s crazy how much has changed and all that I’ve learned. But, that’s kind of the whole point – we learn and grow as business owners. So, the lessons learned and advice below are things that I’ve learned, from the very beginning until now.

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Start simple

You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles when you’re just starting. Don’t fall into peer pressure and let yourself become overwhelmed. If you start reading blogs and attending webinars, you’ll hear recommendations of tools and resources over and over again. These things are great! But, they aren’t essential for those just starting out.

The first three years of business, when it was still a side hustle, the only tool I was paying for was my website. Everything else I was using was free. And, there weren’t many tools I was even using to begin with. Did it matter? No. I still got to quit my job and take my business full-time.

Takeaway: Focus on what’s necessary. Get a website, have a way for people to pay you, and contracts. You’re in business.

>> Related: How to Start Freelancing

Figure out what you love

During my second year of business, when it was still a side-hustle, I began to question if I really wanted to do this – did I really want to make something of Jess Creatives? Because my day job was so draining and uninspiring, it left me feeling drained and uninspired after work. So for awhile, I let myself take it easy, I did minimal work.

After a slower period, and taking time to think about everything, I knew for sure that I wanted to design still. I started realizing at this time, that I don’t love every single design project – and I don’t have to. I still struggle with this sometimes. It can be hard to say no to clients sometimes.

Takeaway: You don’t have to be (and you shouldn’t be) all things to all people. Determine the kind of clients and projects you love the most. Depending on where you’re at in your business, you may find that you can’t be as “picky” as you want, but it’s something to work on.

Action trumps ideas

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, ideas are meaningless. So many of the successful entrepreneurs are successful simply because they execute their ideas. It doesn’t have to be executed perfectly. You can refine or re-launch later.

I’ve launched several things that flopped – ebooks, mini courses, full courses, and even service offerings. But, it’s given me more insight on the creation process, and about my audience. Of course, there are also other things that have had great success! For instance, my YouTube channel – a small idea, that I almost didn’t act on.

Takeaway: Put in the work. Don’t be afraid of failure. Creating new products and services will help you diversify your income, and reach more people.

Adapt and evolve

Algorithms will change. New platforms and strategies will come around. As business owners, we have to adapt and evolve to stay in touch with our clients, and reach new clients. This isn’t to say that you need to jump on every bandwagon that comes around. But, if everyone in your industry is doing ______, and you’re not, and you’re struggling to get clients? It’s time to make a change.

I was so intimidated to start doing video. I didn’t like the idea of being on screen, I didn’t want to put myself out there. But, I kept seeing stats and info about the power of video, and how its influence is growing and will continue to grow. I decided I couldn’t ignore this platform anymore, and jumped in.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Failing to stay current (at least to some degree) could prevent you from growing your business. Watch what’s happening in your industry, and see what might work for your business.

Invest

Especially when you’re starting out, it’s hard to spend money on your business. My advice is to start small. Maybe you just buy an ebook about how to improve your copywriting. You have products and services to offer, that will allow other entrepreneurs to invest in and grow their business. I’m sure you don’t want to list every offer at $10. If you want to be paid what you’re worth by others, you should also expect to pay others what they’re worth.

The first big investment I made in my business was buying this course a few years ago. Man oh man, was I scared to buy it. But, the ROI I’ve seen from that investment is immeasurable. Another investment that I was really, really scared about was joining a six month group coaching program. It was about as much money as I spent on my business the entire previous year. Again, the ROI was immeasurable.

Takeaway: Not every investment has to be hundreds or thousands of dollars. Start small with books and courses. But, be willing to invest in your business!

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