Last year, when I launched this business, although I knew I was on the cusp of something amazing I really had no idea what I was about to launch into and just how much it would change my life!
Now, with a year of this business behind me, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve learned it fast. Through trial and error, success and failure, learning and unlearning… I’ve built a successful business for myself and crafted a life that I love.
Here are my 10 biggest takeaways from the past year:
1. Scheduling is paramount.
In being your own boss, it can be very tempting to just work "whenever you feel like it" but trust me when I say that a schedule is important! It helps you set goals, establish a routine and set clear parameters for yourself.
2. Learning is important, but implementing what you’ve learned is even more important. There's a lot of information out there - webinars, courses... it's overwhelming! And whilst it's great to get as much knowledge as possible, don't get so caught up in learning that you forget to put your newfound skills into practice!
3. Don’t let the fear of making mistakes stop you from trying anything.
You WILL make mistakes. That’s a fact. But in doing so, you’ll learn and in my experience, you’ll learn the crucial lessons far faster if you dive in fearlessly and make the mistakes than if you sit on the sidelines trying to make sure that everything is perfect.
4. Saying “no” will build you a better business.
Don't say “yes” to opportunities that you know are wrong for your business (because the whole “What if I don’t make money?” fear can easily get to your head), and don't agree to taking on more than your schedule would allow or to “favours” that will soon become unprofitable. You're running a business. It's up to you to set the ethics that you'll abide by - and have those ethics clear from the start!
If that niggling voice in the back of your head tells you that you don’t really want to take an opportunity, listen to it. You’re not obligated to take every opportunity that knocks on your door.
(Side note: It’s also okay to say “yes” to opportunities that you feel right about, even if you don’t know what comes next).
5. Be very clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It can’t just be about the money. It can’t. Write down your focus and stick it somewhere where you can see it daily – it will help, trust me.
And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s “too soon” to make long term business goals or that you don’t need them. You do need them. You need them now.
6. Spend time living.
It’s pretty natural to feel that the longer that you spend tethered to your computer working on your business, the further you’ll go.
But woman, listen to me: you NEED to go outside. You need to have coffee dates that are unrelated to your business. You need to go shopping. You need to spend time with your loved ones and watch movies and pick flowers and sleep in on weekends and doing whatever makes you feel joyful. You do.
The longer you deny yourself the liberty of doing anything other than working on your business, the more you’ll lose sight of your overall goals and the more you’ll lose that passion and zest that got you started in the first place.
7. Know your value, and charge it.
You need to charge what you KNOW you’re worth. Not the cheapest price that you think will hook people in, and not the most ridiculous, overly inflated price that you think Kim K would charge if she were you – but the price that’s justified.
To establish this price, you need to do your research – what are your competitors charging? Do you think this is fair? Is the service that you provide better/of greater value than your competitors? What would your ideal client be happy to spend on your service?
Ask yourself these questions early on.
8. Get comfortable with the gritty, unglamourous elements of business.
Accounting. Chasing up late payments. Finding leads. All parts of business that most people aren't particularly fond of, but they’re necessary. Find a way to make the parts of business that you don’t like fun – and you’ll end up strangely enjoying them in time.
9. Allow yourself to feel stressed if you need to.
The idea that you’ll be the coolest, breeziest business owner ever, sipping lattes over an issue of Vogue as you effortlessly breeze through your morning emails is appealing, for sure. And some days might be like that. But don’t freak out if not all (or even some) of your days are like that. Acknowledge that there will be days where you wake up to a total tornado that needs fixing before you’ve had time to make a coffee or put on a bra. There will be days where you have no emails. There will be days when you’ve got a killer headache and are feeling just a bit too thinly spread. That’s okay. Learn from those days. Know what your ideal day entails and find a way to make that happen.
10. Master the art of productive procrastination.
In those moments where you’re sick of working and just need a break, it’s very tempting to go veg out and do nothing.And whilst that can work sometimes, more often than not you’ll return from your work break to find that you’re even further behind on your deadlines and more stressed than when you left. If you need to procrastinate a task, do it productively – that is, spend the time on another area of your business that’s “easier” to work on. That way, you’re still achieving things and furthering your business, all while tricking yourself into thinking that you’re taking some time off.
But the biggest takeaway that I've learned?
It’s up to you to define what success means to you, and that’s a role that only you can fill.