I, myself, just wrapped up my first year. This year has been great to me, but I have also learned a lot of hard lessons. But the best thing about this year is that I understand my business so well, its like we one.
So some things you should know if you too are about to start or are in the mist of your first year...
You probably won't a ton of money.
Pretty much every business article you will read will tell you this. And they are right. Most the money you make you will be reinvested, spent on advertising, attending events, all kinds of different things. You may even spend more money than you make. Don't be discouraged by this fact. Unless you are totally in the hole and have seen no growth, understand that this is part of the process and if you feel your business growing, next year will be better.
Quality, not Quantity usually wins.
Your first year you will want to do everything. Any opportunity to make money, go to a party, doing a small fair, whatever it is, you will do it. And that's great. It helps you learn what you like and dislike, what was worth the trip and what wasn't. Sometimes you will find that you might waste some money doing things that don't pan out, but again, this is all part of the process. The second year you will know more about the events you attend and waste less time using marketing tactics that don't work, so you will probably be a lot more profitable.
You have to pay taxes, and you will hate it.
I have never owned the government money, so tax season was always great for me! I got a nice check and all was right with the world. Not this time. You will owe the government money and it will PAIN you to pay it. It will hurt you to your core. But do it. Seriously. If your gonna go to jail, you want to go for something cool like protesting for human rights, not for something like failing to pay your taxes. During your first year, try to save some of your money because you won't always know how much you may owe. The first time you have to pay taxes, make sure you make note of how much it was so you can know for the next time.
You will acquire haters and/or copycats.
Ah. There is a quote I always tell my sister when she dealing with jerks, "My haters are my greatest motivators." You will find that once you start getting a bit successful or your business starts gaining some legs, people who you don't even know (and some you do) will come out of the woodwork with all sorts of objections and rude comments. And the best part of it is that most of the people who have something to say are usually not doing anything half as hard as running their own business. So don't even worry about.
You will meet a lot of people, don't dismiss them.
Networking is big your first year. Your going to feel like you meet everyone and give everyone your card but nothing is happening. Just wait. After a while all that talking and explaining what you do will come back and benefit you. Keep your new friends and all those business cards and things will start to pay off.
You will learn how to manage your time- or you won't.
So just because you weren't super busy your first year doesn't mean you can take a break. Keep looking out for events to do, keep in touch with contacts, write those blog posts, do whatever you can do because once you get busy, you will wish you had time back to do all those things.
You will see trends, so pay attention.
Even if things aren't as busy as you would like, pay attention to trends. For example, I have found running classes during the summer was not really a good idea because people are away with their families. The fall is very busy for most tarot card readers, so make sure you try and get most of your other work done before that. Paying attention to trends is important so you will know when to save up money for the times that business is slow.
What have you learned in your first year of business? Let me know!