The Modern Career Girl officially launched earlier this year. But not too long ago, I was experiencing the same excitement when I launched the re-designed site of my previous lifestyle site, MintedMag.com.
And before that, I was really excited about changing MintedMag.com from a quarterly digital magazine to a daily-updated website.
And before that, I was over the moon when I first launched Minted Magazine—my start as an entrepreneur.
All those changes have happened in less than a year and a half. One year and four months, actually.
You’re probably thinking that I’m fickle with my business decisions. It’s not that I can’t lock one idea down and stick to my guns…but if I just don’t see one thing working, why not change things up? They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, things broke. I started (well, tried) fixing.
I’m finally at a point where I’m happy with what I have going, and that’s TheModernCareerGirl.com. I’ve taken all the things I did wrong (and there were many), learned why they weren’t working for me, and have applied it to this new site. After all the time lost, money down the drain, and sleepless nights, I bring you my awesome list of mistakes any entrepreneur can learn from, regardless of what industry you’re in.
1. I Wasted a Ton of Money (My 2012 taxes prove it.)
There’s the mantra that it takes money to make money. I don’t disagree with that at all. BUT, the caveat is that you shouldn’t waste money. Spend it only if you know it will help your business, and not because it’s simply a want. It sounds easy, but once things get rolling, it’s hard to say no to certain expenses that you think are necessary.
For example, I spent so…much…money on a website redesign. My justification was that readers want a website with all the bells and whisteles, so I have to spend the money on a programmer to jazz it up. Well, $4,000 later, I have a website I’m no longer in love with, or using, and nothing to show for it but a maxed out credit card.
Now, was the re-designed website going to make me money? No. It was for pure vanity. I could have gone with a $55 template and coded it myself to my liking (which is exactly what I did with this site). In my industry, content is king, so I should have focused on the content and not so much on the look.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest in a website with features like a responsive theme, friendly user interface, and visual appeal—you just don’t need to put so much money into it until you have the money. There are tons of pre-made templates that are more than suitable for any business starting out. And if you’re using WordPress, like myself, there are limitless plugins to help you make a website that caters to your industry and needs.
2. I had a Vision…But No (Effective) Strategy
Companies grow and change over time—that’s completely normal. But constant changes that lead to more changes, without any real direction makes you look, well, like you don’t have any idea what you’re doing. Just like I mentioned before, I went through so many changes. Since inception, I’ve always had the same kind of content, voice and demographic. But what I was really lost on was the platform and branding.
Do I want people to view my content in a magazine format? Do I want to release content quarterly in bulk, or daily in doses? Do I want to be just a blog, or an entire lifestyle “brand”? These were questions I should have focused on right from the beginning. I had the what (publishing career and lifestyle content), the who (millennial women), the why (because I love writing and sharing what I know with others), but not the how (ultimately as a daily-updated website). It would have saved me a ton of time, money and tears if I had spent more time in that one area.
The best way to overcome flailing wildly along this journey as an entrepreneur is to really think about the who, what, how and why. Who is your demographic? What is at the heart of what your company/brand does? How will you give your customers/clients/readers what you have to offer them in a way they’ll respond? Why are you doing this—are you passionate about it?
As inspiration, try examining other successful brands/companies in your industry and see how they would answer those questions.
3. I Lost Motivation
Never, ever, ever lose motivation to make your business succeed. If something doesn’t work, figure out why, find a solution, and start again. Don’t simply stop when things aren’t working for you anymore.
I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t fall into a rut. I did. It lasted a good four months or so. And out of the 19 months I’ve been doing this, four months is a LARGE portion of that time. If I could take that time back, I would have had this site up and running while it was still 2012.
What happened was, I noticed the website wasn’t getting the traction I had initially hoped. I saw better sites popping up left and right (oh, the wonders of the web), and I got kind of discouraged. I’ll admit, I almost gave up. If you’re in that same rut right now, let me be the one to tell you to get up, change out of your pajamas and start thinking again about why you wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place. Think of those awesome days of productivity and accomplishments in the earlier days and remember what motivated you back then, and channel those thoughts to the present.