10 Lessons I Have Learned 2 Years into Owning My Business
I cannot believe that I am about to enter my third year of business! This blows my mind. I honestly feel like I blinked and this year has gone by. I am so blessed and honored to do what I love and help business owners and digital marketing professionals, better manage their own digital marketing. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, but I have never felt more like myself than I do with JO Social Branding and I know that this is my calling.
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As I reflect on my 1 year anniversary post, the lessons became much deeper. That first year was terrifying. Trying to get my legs underneath me and figure out who I am, what I offer, how to help clients and create a profitable business. As I review that 1 year anniversary post, and think about where I was just a year ago and look at where I am now – it is night and day.
There were many eye-opening experiences. Some that made me jump up and down and do a happy dance, others that made me want to vomit. Then there were others that completely transformed my business.
It has been a learning experience through and through. That is why I figured on my 2 year anniversary post I wanted to share some lessons that I learned:
1. Keep everything about your business close to your chest until you are ready to launch. There are others waiting to steal your thunder.
2. Create a dependable referral network. Most likely your clients need other services that you can’t or choose not to offer. Have others in your back pocket that you can refer your clients to. Make sure you trust them and are willing to hand off your clients to them. If possible, set up an incentive referral program as well.
3. Don’t be intimidated by the competition. Look back and keep an eye on how close they are but don’t lose sight of the target in front of you.
4. Set goals, timelines and checklists and stick to them.
5. Don’t be afraid to try something new. I would rather try it and fail then to never try it at all.
6. Never second guess yourself. Listen to your gut. It is okay to let opportunities pass you by if they don’t feel right.
7. Surround yourself with smart mentors.
I saved the best for last and wanted to explain in a little more detail.
8. Invest in yourself and your business. Of course gaining capital is one thing. There will come a point when you need to pay out to make life easier or make your business better. I did this with business cards, an invoicing system, training and scheduling. I pay more than normal for business cards. You know why? Because every time people grab them, they always comment on the quality.
Translation: If my business cards are that good, you can only image the business behind the card. First impressions are important.
I was nervous to invest with a scheduling tool for my website. However, when I looked at how much time I spent scheduling and rescheduling appointments it made sense. I was losing money in the form of quality time that I could focus on my business. It was an investment I needed to make. I have even invested in training programs, courses and eBooks to become a better marketing professional and businesswoman.
I make sure to invest in me. If I don’t then how do I convince my clients to invest in their own business by hiring me?
9. Take personal time for yourself and your family. As an entrepreneur or business owner it is very easy to get tied up in the daily grind.
If you feel tired, take a nap, go for a walk, go out to dinner, get away from the computer for awhile.
Chris Brogan has a yearly 3 word exercise that he discusses here. I adopted this process last year. The first word on my list for this year is “Present”. I want to be in the present and more importantly, I want to be present with my family and friends. At the end of last year I felt life was a little out of balance, more focused on the business than time with the family. Now, I don’t feel bad walking away from the computer for family or friend time. I adjust my calendar and plan accordingly. Especially for our significant others. They are just as vested in our businesses as we are and deserve to have us unplugged and dedicated to them.
10. Value yourself and time. The main accomplishment I learned is to value myself and my time. I don’t feel bad for my rates, where I did before. The eye opener was in my first year of business. I tallied the hours I worked (including prep work which I didn’t charge for) and the income I had made. It was pennies that I was making per hour. I had felt like someone had punched me in the gut. Of course I felt I needed to “put my time in” and it would “pay off in the end”. I was doing myself and my clients a disservice.
Then I met another marketing consultant, her hourly consulting rate was 5 times my hourly rate.
That individual didn’t provide any more value than what I had to offer, but she had confidence in herself and her business.
As Seth Godin stated in his Freelancer Course, and I am paraphrasing, “You are no different from a Lawyer who charges by the phone call, don’t undervalue yourself.” Now I know my value and worth and share my hourly rate with pride.
As I wrap up this anniversary post, I want to thank everyone who has made this possible. My husband, our family, and friends, my mentors, my clients, my Constant Contact network, presentation attendees, blog friends, social media connections, newsletter subscribers and more.
This would not be possible if it wasn’t for you. I am honored that you include me in your lives in some form. Thank you and here is to a fantastic year 3!