“Times passes too quickly”. People say this when your child starts school. Or when you hit a milestone birthday. I think your first year in business should be on the list as well!
November 2020 saw me dabbling with building my own website and finally agreeing with my coach that I was ready and motivated to start my own business.
November 2021 sees me writing my 8th blog (I didn't quite manage one a month!) on a new website, about to send a newsletter to my email list of clients and supporters and planning my second year in business.
I carved out some time to reflect on that first year of business and thought I’d share my learnings with you. I hope for those just staring their journey it’s useful and for those that are several years in, you can resonate with me (your hints and tips for the future are also welcome)!
1. Everything takes longer than you think
This seems a bit ironic given I’ve just said the year has passed so quickly but the day-to-day tasks of running a business take longer than you plan for.
Learning – outsource to others when you can and review the time you allocate for activities now you’ve a more realistic timescale.
2. You need to make money to grow
Yes, I know I need sales to make my business profitable and to pay the bills but I hadn’t considered I need the sales to develop and move my business forward – think business coaching, training programmes, technology to automate, outsourcing from the never ending to do list etc.
Learning – in the early months it may feel like you’re boot-strapping everything but as your business grows factor in a % of your earnings each month to go back into developing you and your business.
Photo source: Pexels, November 2021
3. Your ideal client is always evolving
I’ve worked on this a lot and think I’ve a pretty clear idea of my ideal client. But I’ve still had the odd time where I’ve missed something obvious or not crafted my message well enough.
Learning – your ideal client will change or develop over time so it's important to keep reviewing and checking. I think this is particularly true in the current climate as people are looking at the world from a different perspective. Think about how many people have changed jobs, careers, their shopping habits, their views on 'big' issues like health and wellbeing or the environment in the last 18 months...
4. Take every opportunity that comes your way (but do this alongside point 6)
Don’t be afraid to take opportunities that come your way, even if they’re a bit out of your comfort zone.
Learning – prioritise the opportunities that push you out your comfort zone as they tend to reap the most rewards. Remember to offer opportunities to others too (what goes around comes around, right?)
5. Don’t be afraid to try/do things for your business even if you don’t feel 100% ready
I’m a bit of a perfectionist so this is definitely one I'm working on! It can be easy to get bogged down with making everything perfect that you take twice as long to deliver or do something.
Learning – 'done' is better than 'perfect' and you can always create a next time to improve.
6. If you’re not sure, go with your gut!
You’ll be faced with difficult choices and decisions. And they can be tough to make if it's just you! Sometimes you’ll have to take a leap of faith and I'd recommend going with your gut.
Learning – in my experience, 9 times out of 10 your gut is right!
7. Celebrate the small wins
It’s tough running your own business and it can be a bit of rollercoaster! I try to appreciate the small wins – a social media post that gets a great response, a lovely testimonial from a happy client or a referral from a business contact. These are the baby steps that are taking me towards my end goal and a successful business.
Learning - the small wins are important and you want to enjoy the journey as well as the destination!
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