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What I Learned From Opening My Own Business

  • September 16, 2015
  • By Brittany
  • 0 Comments
What I Learned From Opening My Own Business

Hey friends!  So it’s been a few months since I announced that I was opening a pop-up barre studio on Cape Cod for the summer.  After going through the season and then deciding to extend it by opening up my online studio, I’ve learned a lot.  Of course there are things that I thought worked out great and some things I would change.  I wanted to put together this post as informative for others who might be considering opening their own business but also so I could document my own thoughts and suggestions to myself going forward. So here’s what I learned from opening my own business.

1.) Plan in Advance.  I decided to open my studio and then my online studio on a tight deadline.  As a result, I felt like I was rushing to finish the details on time, which obviously caused me a lot of stress.  I gave myself less than two months for the opening of my physical space and only about a month before launching my online studio.  I would say that I really needed a good six months for my physical space and probably about three months for my online studio.  Although you can certainly accomplish a lot on a tight deadline, I think it is better to feel like you’ve thought everything through than feel like you are rushing through the details.

2.) Pull the Plug.  Planning in advance is key to a successful business but you can also get into a planning rut where you try to make everything perfect and as a result, you never actually launch your business or product.  I know I can be guilty of this.  I keep postponing in hopes that I’ll be able to make my business more perfect but in reality, I never get anything significantly done.  One of the great things about giving myself a very short timeline to get things done was that I HAD to hit go by a certain point.  I recommend deciding how much time you think you will need to launch your business and then putting a non-negotiable launch date on the calendar.

3.)  Advertise.  Obviously no business can be successful if you don’t advertise but advertising can be extremely costly and for a small business, it can be one of the largest expenses.  I recommend doing targeted advertising.  For instance, since I was opening my studio on Cape Cod, I reached out to Cape Cod print and online publications to place advertising there since it would attract my direct clientele.  One thing to watch out for with advertising and marketing is that there are tons of consultants who want you to spend a ton of money to have them give you this assessment and help you reach your potential audience.  While this may be the right decision for you, if you are just starting out, it can also be a huge money pit.  I recommend casting a wide net and then assessing how many clients you actually receive from each of these outlets.  I ask my clients to tell me how they heard about me and then I decide how to spend my advertising budget based on their answers.

4.) Consider Free Advertising.  For me, one of the best sources of clients was advertising that I didn’t even have to pay for!  This sounds like the golden goose egg doesn’t it?  Well, it is and it isn’t.  First of all, the absolute best advertising you can get is word-of-mouth and you get that by being great at what you do.  That doesn’t just mean offering a fantastic product or service but also having great customer service and rewarding clients who share your passion for your business.  Another great form of free advertising is Groupon.  Now, Groupon is wonderful at getting your business into the email boxes of locals and drawing them in.  There are two caveats and one is that you have to be able to retain their business and the second is that you have to be able to use Groupon successfully in terms of timing and pricing.  For me, Groupon brought in a lot of business but, as I’ll discuss more below, their pricing model really hurt me in the long run and the timing on the Groupons is very long, which isn’t great for a pop-up studio.

[bctt tweet=”Tips and tricks when you start your own business”]

5.)  Pricing.  Pricing is very tricky.  You want to make money off your business, otherwise you wouldn’t have started it, but you don’t want to drive away customers by overpricing.  For me, one of my biggest mistakes was not offering the right kind of package.  Because Groupon discounts your full-priced package and then takes half of everything you make, it ended up being a really killer for me money-wise.  And with only a short season, most of my clients didn’t really need to buy additional classes.  If I could do it over again, I would have re-considered my packages (for instance, offering an unlimited summer season package) that were more expensive in total but not per class and offered that through Groupon.  Also, you want to make sure you are on par with other studios.  I did some research of studios close to where I was starting my pop-up studio to determine pricing.  Similarly, with my online classes, I researched other studios before setting the prices for my classes.  Also, don’t be afraid to offer a discount or give a little away for free if you think in the long run people will want to sign up at full price.

6.) Admin.  Admin work is not my favorite.  I never loved accounting and who enjoys paying bills?  One of my biggest weaknesses has been not keeping strong enough records.  It is so easy to fall into a trap of not keeping great records but it is so important for understanding your profits (hopefully!) and expenses.  By keeping great records you’ll also be able to determine where you might cut back on costs and where you can hopefully beef up some profit margins.  Additionally, keeping great client records will allow you to reach out them so they constantly have you in mind and remember why they love your business!  

7.) Don’t Forget the Legal Stuff.  As a commercial lawyer, I was definitely aware of all of the potential ways I could set up my business and the legal impact of each of these structures.  I was also aware of how much each one cost and the reporting requirements for each one.  Because I had this background knowledge, it was easy for me to decide my business structure.  But I also had to consider things like copyright and patent law when deciding on my business and class names and picking music.  Additionally, there are often local requirements for obtaining business licenses that must be complied with.  This may all sound overwhelming but actually anyone can tackle these things with a little bit of research.  I recommend checking out the Secretary of State’s website before starting any business.  And when choosing a name, do a quick Google search to see if anyone else has your name and for an extra bit of safety, also check out the USPTO trademark search database

So, as you can see, there are definitely mistakes I’ve made that I’ve learned from and hope to change as I move forward with my online business and my pop-up studio next summer.

[bctt tweet=”What I learned from opening my own business”]

Readers, do you have anything to add to this list if you are a business owner?  What mistakes have you made in the past that you’ve learned from?  What are some of your greatest successes in your business or career?

By Brittany, September 16, 2015
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0 Comments
  • Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious
    September 16, 2015

    Very informative Brit! I will be bookmarking for future reference.

  • Marielle
    September 16, 2015

    So awesome that you did all this Britt, I’m impressed! The admin and business aspect completely overwhelms me, but these tips are very helpful!!

  • Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama
    September 16, 2015

    Awesome tips!! I appreciate you sharing this critical info as I look to start a bit of a business of my own in the next 6 months. I am so proud of you for doing this, and I have to agree with the advertising and word of mouth points the most. People talk. Bloggers have big audiences…so that kind of exposure is super critical! You are my shero!

  • Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    September 16, 2015

    Interesting post, lady! Last year when my hubby started a business, we learned a ton about what worked and what mistakes we made and wouldn’t do again. It’s all a learning process right? I definitely am not good at keeping nicely detailed records either, but I’ve been trying to be a lot better this year!

  • Sara
    September 17, 2015

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts—really helpful to see how your brick-and-mortar and online businesses were different.

  • Holly
    September 17, 2015

    It does sound like a ton of work–hope you had some help and/or moral support! It seems like you enjoyed it all the same!

  • Renee @ Bendiful Blog
    September 17, 2015

    Great tips! Groupon is always such a weird product for people it’s either a great success or the cause of all sorts of drama. When I worked in advertising we always steered new clients away from them since they never really had a firm understanding of how much money groupon was taking from their offer. And what the long term was for clients who were getting a serious discount.

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