As your business grows, you'll want to thoughtfully outsource and delegate. When you're just starting out, however, you need to know how everything works.
It's tempting to hire someone to build your website, take professional photos, set up your bookkeeping, edit your videos, and manage your social media. It feels like forward progress.
But I strongly suggest you start by doing all of these on your own, however daunting it may seem.
1) It will help you refine your own vision. If you outsource too much early on, you start to get too many opinions about what your brand should look, sound and feel like. You'll lose your center if it doesn't have a solid foundation, honed through trial and error.
2) You'll avoid unnecessary risk. If you don't know how to update your own website, or manage your own social media, it's a huge upset to your business if your assistant quits or your web designer is on vacation. It will slow your momentum way down. You should know how to quickly make the basic changes and updates you need to move forward.
3) It will show you that you can do anything. When we don't know how to take the next step we feel helpless. Once you figure it out - even if it's annoying, and time-consuming, and involves watching way too many YouTube videos - you're going to feel like you can conquer the world.
So what can you handle on your own, and how?
1) Build your own website. I work with so many people who put off starting their business because their web designer takes several months to finish their site. Don't hire a web designer right away! It's SO expensive, and as you get clearer on your offering you're going to want to make so many changes. You should know how to do this. You can use the intuitive AI templates Wix or Squarespace offer to create a decent website in an afternoon. YouTube is your friend here - there are so many videos that will walk you through all your questions.
2) Take your own photos. Yes, you'll want a professional photo shoot pretty early on. I wrote an article about the subject. But it's also nice to know you can get great quality photos whenever you need them with a little natural light, a cheap tripod, the timer setting on your iPhone, and portrait mode.
3) Do your own accounting and taxes. You should definitely incorporate and get guidance from a skilled accountant once you're bringing in any amount of money. But you're going to get the most out of your meeting with your busy accountant if you come prepared with smart questions.
This means you should have a general idea of what it looks like to incorporate (as an LLC, S-corp, or otherwise), set up Quickbooks (or Bench, an alternative people are raving about), and pay estimated quarterly taxes.
Google all these things - you're not the first entrepreneur to have to do some research around this. At a bare minimum, while you're asking around for the right accountant, keep track of every dollar that comes in and all your even tangentially business-related expenses in an Excel document.
And set aside a percentage of every payment that comes through in a savings account. Why? So you have money laying around when estimated quarterly taxes are due and there is no drama. Mark the dates when quarterly estimated taxes are due on your calendar right now.
4) Edit your videos and graphics. Again, there are so many free or cheap resources for this, like Canva and VSCO. An iPhone and tripod is all you need to get started making videos. Make sure the substance is there before you spend a ton of money on professional filming and editing.
5) Manage your own social media. So important. Sure, get some guidance if social media is totally foreign to you. But don't let anyone else run with all of it when you're just getting started. You really want your own voice to shine through here.
Eventually, you may be able to effectively communicate your vision to a skilled social media manager who really gets you. But you'd be surprised how many high-profile luminaries and influencers still manage their own Instagram. It's worth playing around with what works for you and what doesn't.
Doing your own work in these areas early on may result in B+ work. As a consumer and appreciator of others' work, you know what great looks like. You are not likely to produce great work on day one (or year one, or even year two). But if you let perfect be the enemy of good, you'll never get started.
Writers get the (admittedly a little gross) advice to "throw up on the page". Entrepreneurs should do the same. You have to just get started and you can refine from there. Action will bring clarity.
It breaks my heart to see would-be entrepreneurs hide behind hired experts, and think that if they just throw money at their business it will come together. Your business needs your unique touch. Dive into the details early on.
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