Belinda Sanmiguel 1-year anniversary

5 Hard Lessons I Learned In My First Year as a Marketing Consultant

On January 12, 2021, I officially established my business.

I thought, Is this a mistake?

No one really tells you what it feels like to start a business. Many people say entrepreneurship is not for everyone. You will not make anything your first year, and it takes time. But no one tells you about the gut-wrenching emotions you have with yourself every night when you lay in bed, thinking about your future.

No one tells you about the shitty feeling when you see your accounts dwindle.

Belinda at desk

I will say that this year, I grew a thick skin. I learned a lot about how it really is to be a freelance marketing consultant. I also learned how to handle the not-so-fun parts of freelancing.

On a bright note, I learned about how to create great relationships.

I want to share my lessons, so you can feel better about starting a business.

Lesson 1: Don’t Focus on What Everyone Else Is Doing

Unfortunately, there seems to be this obsession with Instagram. People are doing Reels non-stop. Reels nor Instagram work for me.

I am sure doing these activities works for some people, but not me. In the beginning, I found myself in discussions with other marketers who Reels and Lives, and honestly, I was burnt out.

I am not here to bash people that do all of these. In the beginning, I thought I really needed to do all of these activities to get a following and be successful.

Why did I think this? Where did this logic come from? Who knows, but please do not get obsessed with what everyone else is doing.

Think about your values. If social media is burning you out and not making you money, then take a break.

Lesson 2: Think Outside Instagram

What is your view of Instagram? When I started my business, I was obsessed with Instagram. I constantly checked how many likes, comments, and messages I would get.

Since starting, I have not signed one client from Instagram. Just because people say you should focus on Instagram doesn’t mean you should.

Test out each channel and find the best one that works. If a channel isn’t serving you, then stop using it.

Lesson 3: Know Success Does Not Happen Overnight

I often see posts on Facebook about business owners making 10k months within 6 months of starting their business. When I read these posts, I instantly felt like shit. Should I be making 10k months already? Is that realistic?

The answer is no. We all have our own unique journeys. Do some people make 10k months quicker than others? Sure. Do you have to feel bad about it? No.

As most successful entrepreneurs suggest, try not to compare yourself to others.

Lesson 4: Trust Yourself

When I quit my job at the end of 2020, I was terribly unhappy.

Even though I did not have clients, I knew quitting my job was the next step.

There were days when I would sit at my cubicle, look out the window, and ask myself, is this it?

To be fair, I learned everything I know about SEO, digital marketing, branding, and copywriting at my last job.

But my gut told me things needed to change. The Morning Slack messages made me nauseous.

I knew the universe was watching and looking out in 2020. On October 31, 2020, I put in my two weeks.

Lesson 5: Be Ready to Take Many Risks

Most people are afraid of taking risks. Some people are too comfortable in their safe bubbles. You don’t stop taking risks when you start a business.

There will be times within your first year of business where you may spend money or time on things that don’t work out.

This year has been filled with challenges but also wins. I signed three clients. I hosted my first event with Delectable Dialogues!

All in all, I would say this year has been great. Starting a business has been a challenging journey. But I can confidently say that I am happier and more fulfilled today than I was two years ago.

I am grateful for my husband and my supportive family, who have been by my side through this journey.

Belinda at Bru Chicago

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