I've been in marketing since 1989. Yeah. That long. You know… before the World Wide Web became publicly available.
I was a broke, single mom of a 2-1/2-year-old. Shawn was the sole provider of a growing family and not making a lot of money either.
But we had big dreams; weren't afraid of working hard, and we had a lot of stick-to-itiveness.
While it’s fun to work toward becoming a mogul, it’s rarely glamorous, and it requires more hard work than I could have imagined. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you can do it with little more than a cellphone, decent wi-fi, a relentless ability to brush off rejection and the focus to keep your eye on the prize.
In the first few years of your startup, the prize probably won't be a million dollars in the bank; it’s going to be survival. It’s staying hungry and staying afloat.
The following tips are a few things I stopped doing that made all the difference in getting myself and my business where I wanted to go.
No More New Clothes
Stop buying designer clothes. Please. Stop. You can’t afford them. The stress of debt can make the joy for life fade from your eyes, and that speaks much louder than designer labels. I went to conferences in thrift clothes. And I'm not talking about still crazy expensive thrifting done in stores that only carry labels like Chanel and Ferragamo. I scoured through rack after rack to find suit jackets and sheath dresses that had come back into style and cost less than $20. I took the time to find items that fit me just right without jeopardizing my finances to do so.
Fit Is the Key to Professional Dressing
Most clothing stores are cut to fit one body shape very well. Once you find a brand that fits you well, you stick with them, right? Wrong. Your body changes all the time, and so does the fashion industry. When you go to a thrift store, you’re not looking at the latest offerings for the season. You’re stepping completely off the grid.
You’re training your hands to feel quality fabric. You’re training your eye to recognize if the pants from the '60s or '70s are flattering on your body. The best part is, if no one knows who you’re wearing, they don’t have any idea who you are not wearing! When they ask where you got it, coyly reply, “Oh, it’s vintage.” This leaves them guessing what you’ll wear next.
Learn to Cook and Cultivate Your Crew
Stop spending money on eating out. It’s tempting to tell yourself that socializing is networking, but it’s time to be brutally honest with yourself. Are you connecting with people who are going somewhere? Or are you wasting time, energy and money on people who aren't helping you achieve your goals?
To master your trade, you’ll have to spend more time than the average person (a lot more time) studying, practicing and putting in the time. This doesn't mean that networking isn't important; you just need to find the right events to further your business. Be judicious with your time. It’s your most valuable commodity.
Serious Tech Says You’re Serious
Now that you’re not spending your whole paycheck on clothes and overpriced food, it’s time to invest in the tools of your trade. To work in my industry, I needed a laptop, graphic software, a cell phone and wi-fi. That’s it. I didn’t need office space, a PR firm or marketing dollars.
These days, you don't even need to spring for Photoshop to create graphics with so many free apps available now. I'm a big fan of an app called Moldiv, a free collage photo editor with lots of layouts, text options and a bunch of other bells and whistles. It's great for quick blog graphics and banners.
You don't even need to invest in a camera, either. A smartphone like the Galaxy Note5 can take professional-quality photos for your website, blog, and social media. Don't waste money on a DSLR or point-and-shoot when you already have a tool that can do it all.