This week I’m celebrating 3 years in business! It has been a wild ride and in the spirit of honesty and transparency I’m going break down all of the lessons that I’ve learned.
I want other entrepreneurs to know that the ups and downs are normal and that you have to go through them to get to the sweet spot. And if you’re feeling discouraged, you are not alone.
I learned a lot of things the hard way. I want to share them with you now because I think it’s important to talk about everything that goes into building a successful business, even the stuff that’s not so fun.
Here are 8 lessons that I’ve learned in the last 3 years of business. My hope is that these lessons will encourage you and you will be able to apply them to your business and minimize some of the detours that I took along the way.
Lesson 1: You need to be your own boss
Many women starting out treat their business like a hobby. They don’t treat it with the respect that it deserves.
When I first started I allowed other people to tell me what to do. I took on the wrong clients, I undercharged, and I had no boundaries. I was not being my own boss and it was exhausting.
If I could go back and redo anything, I would take my business seriously from day one. I now know that if you treat your business like a hobby you aren’t going to hit your goals, you aren’t going to be profitable, and you certainly aren’t going to bring in clients.
Lesson 2: Know your audience
When I first started my business I said, “I’m going to target small business owners.” That was it! Because my message was so general no one could connect with it. I was trying to reach everyone and I ended up reaching no one.
As soon as I clarified who my audience was and I began talking directly to them, that’s when I started to build an engaged following and get steady clients.
This is exactly what I help my clients do now. I help them figure out how to connect with their audience, how to grow their own audience, and how to convert their audience into clients.
Lesson 3: Don’t listen to others
I listened to a lot of opinions from well-meaning family and friends at the beginning of my business journey. Big mistake. Your family/friends aren’t paying you, so why are you listening to them?
Yes, it’s great to take advice from other people and have a support system. But if you are spending all your time listening to other people then you’re not going to build a business that lights you up, that you’re passionate about.
It’s important to set those boundaries and remind yourself of whose business this really is. It’s YOUR business, and you need to treat it like that.
Lesson 4: Focus on one thing at a time
This is actually what led me to hitting my first 10k month! For an entire month I focused on marketing my 1:1 coaching packages and that’s exactly why I was able to reach a new income milestone.
At the beginning of my business I tried to be everywhere. I also tried to market everything. I didn’t have a focus and I was overwhelmed.
“You will get better results and move faster if you simplify things.” – Michelle Vroom
Whatever you focus on will grow.
Lesson 5: It’s all about progress, not perfection
When I first started my business I spent a TON of time perfecting my website. As soon as my website was launched, I had no plan for how to bring people to it. I should have been more focused on having conversations with people than the colors on my website!
Your audience isn’t looking for perfection. People want to do business with people who are real, and perfect is not real.
Stop waiting around for the perfect time to start something. With action comes clarity. You’ll learn along the way. You’ll mess up and make mistakes. But there’s no such thing as failure unless you quit all together.
Lesson 6: Treat people like humans
People make decisions based on emotion. In the beginning I wasn’t engaging with my audience. I wasn’t giving them space to talk back to me and it showed. No one was emotionally connected to me and therefore they didn’t want to work with me.
Don’t just look at a person as a potential sale. Don’t introduce and invite that pressure into your business because your potential clients will pick up on that pressure as well. And no one wants to do business with someone who is pressuring them.
Lesson 7: Expect the unexpected
I’ve learned that there is always a reason behind the unexpected circumstances. And while we don’t always realize it at the time, looking back it can be easy to see why something happened the way it did.
Any lost client is an opportunity for an even better client. Whatever situation you are facing right now, know that you don’t have to be in control. Things are going to work out. Not the way you expect, necessarily, but they might work out in a way you never anticipated.
While you may not get completely comfortable with change, you do need to expect the unexpected. And realize that those unexpected situations that seem so bad can actually be the best things for you.
Lesson 8: Get support
As high achieving women, we see asking for help as a sign of weakness. Yet that is the very thing I had to do to take my business to the next level.
About a year and a half into business, I invested in a coach. It was scary to invest but getting that support has changed my entire business. And since then I’ve invested in a Virtual Assistant and a Podcast Manager to help me serve more women.
Investing in support can look different for everyone. If you want your business to thrive and succeed, you’re going to have to stop doing everything yourself and let someone else help you.
I would love to hear what lessons struck a chord with you. What stuck out to you? What lessons have you learned? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my Facebook group and join the conversation!
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