It’s actually been over a year since I officially became a business. Last month was so busy and so short, I completely forgot that a year had passed until recently. I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting in the past week and it seriously blows my mind that I am still here.
The person who is more comfortable being social online than in real life.
The person who has a background in BIOCHEMISTRY of all things (I don’t even remember half of the stuff I was taught. I still have my textbooks to make me look and feel smart).
The person who was horrible at every retail position she had.
That person is the same person who built a consulting business from a blog from the ground up and continues to do so.
The first time for anything is always the steepest learning curve (remember learning how to ride a bike or how to drive?) and I know that with having a business it is no different. You are constantly learning, pushing and challenging yourself, which is why at the end of the day, I think having a business is a good fit for me. I have always had a competitive streak in me. I only wish I had known sooner, but hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps 10 years, 5 years, even 2 years ago, it just wasn’t the right time and place.
Now that a little over a year has passed, I would like to share some lessons that I learned. Feel free to nod your head vigorously as you read through them or even say a HELL YEAH out loud.
15 Things I Learned From My First Year of Business
1. You will work hard, harder than you’ve ever had in your entire life. And then you will learn to work smarter and not as hard.
2. You will end up spending less time with your non-business friends and more time with business friends, but don’t completely neglect your non-business friends. They are the necessary break you need in once a while from your business.
3. Everything is figureoutable (I foresee this being an official word in the dictionary. It’s only a matter of time.) and Googleable. Some things are worth doing on your own. Some things are worth taking a course or workshop on to get some guidance on and some things are worth investing in eventually (i.e. website design, professional photos, business coaching, mastermind group, etc).
4. Protect your time. SERIOUSLY. Learn how to assign priorities (client work, onboarding new clients, following up with warm prospects, marketing your business – YES. Viewing someone’s vacation pictures from Cuba – NO.). Learn what can be rescheduled, delayed, delegated and even omitted. Learn to take breaks! I know it may seem at times like everything is a priority, but if you break it down and really scrutinize your tasks, you’ll see that certain things aren’t that much of a priority after all.
5. Listen your gut. If your gut is telling you something, don’t ignore it.
6. Focus on connecting, rather than networking. We all know those people, the ones who make it rain with their business cards, the ones who try to sell you something on the first call/meeting. The way I see it, connecting is like dating. You’ll have some bad dates. It’s inevitable. But then you’ll get those great ones where sparks fly and lead to something more. Cultivate meaningful relationships with the right people.
7. Not everything you try will work out the first time around. But that doesn’t mean you give up. In order for your business to move forward, you have no choice but to be resilient and persistent. My first meetup (and I suppose my last one for the time being) had only 3 ppl, one of them was my husband. My first webinar only had 1 attendee. I had a Facebook group that had only 20 ppl and it was like a ghost town. You have to be willing to keep trying or try different things, keep failing and most importantly, keep going.
8. If you want other people to believe in your services/products/unique selling proposition, you need to believe it. Like you’re willing to go to battle for it. Fight to the end.
9. Self-promotion is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a necessary thing. This needs to be done on a regular basis, even when you’re busy with clients. You plant the seeds today so you can reap what you sow in the future.
10. You know more than you think. Something that may seem trivial/simple/easy to you may seem difficult/frustrating/mind-boggling to someone else.
11. EXPERT = EXPERIENCE = EXPERIMENTATION
12. Your ideal client may take awhile and may be tough to find, but when you do find them, it’s the best feeling in the world working with them.
13. Don’t be afraid to ask for things. Don’t be afraid to follow up either. But know your limit for both of these things as well.
14. Don’t be afraid to say no to things either.
15. No goal, no dream is too big or too crazy. Proof? Two words: Elon Musk.
To those who are just starting out or who haven’t reached their year 1 yet, make a note to reflect on your 1 year anniversary. It’s a great way to see how far you’ve come and how much further you’re going to go in year 2.
What would you consider to be a key takeaway from your first business? Do any of the ones mentioned resonate with you?