It’s amazing how fast our first year has gone. It’s been an incredible journey, and as well as learning so much about business, I’ve also learnt a lot about myself. Looking back over the past year, I thought I’d share with you the five key things I’ve learned in case they might help you too:
1. You can’t do it all yourself
There’s no denying that at the beginning you’re going to have to do everything. But as you start to grow, it’s important to invest in the areas that are going to drive your business forward and consider outsourcing where you can.
I recommend working out how much you pay yourself per hour and if there are tasks that can be outsourced to an expert in that field for less, wouldn’t it make business sense to do so? That way you can concentrate on your priorities and the things you’re brilliant at. Outsourcing will help you grow so much faster than if you spend loads of time trying to do it all yourself. Nowadays you can learn anything on YouTube, but it will take you a hell of a lot more time (equating to more money) than if you invested in someone else who is already brilliant at it. That’s been a key lesson over the last year.
I encourage you to find your zone of genius and outsource the bits that aren’t within it or that you don’t enjoy. It’s also a great feeling to support other small businesses by outsourcing as you’re giving employment opportunities to other people.
A good deed and saving you money/ time? Winner!
2. Be kind to yourself
You are your business, so if you're not taking care of you, it’s not going to function half as well as it should and could.
Wow, what a lesson this has been! Whatever self-kindness looks to you, I believe you should invest in a bit of this every day or at least every week. Whether that’s 20 mins with a book before you go to bed, going for a weekly massage, or taking a day off a month to do the thing that lights you up.
Whatever it is that’s your version of self-care, or self-kindness, build it into your schedule. There’s no point firing on all cylinders and not giving anything back to yourself, that’s the fastest route to burnout.
Listen to your body and your mind and feed both with goodness; your wellbeing and your business will both thank you for it.
3. Find your tribe and utilise collaboration over competition
This is so important. Over the past year, I’ve built one of the best circle of friends I’ve ever had. It’s all about finding people that really resonate with you, that lift you up, that make you feel positive every day, and that support you. Find those people, keep them close and remove yourself from the energy suckers, the drainers.
There will be people that question what you’re doing and imply that you can’t do it. Ignore them, they are simply noise that you don’t need. Instead, pay attention to the people that celebrate your wins and offer help, support and advice in the challenging times; build your tribe around them, and give back to them just as they give to you.
You will grow so much faster if you do this and will feel so much more confident about yourself. Your business will become a positive place if you’re surrounded by the people who cheer your success instead of being ‘jealous Judys’ or ‘negative Nigels’.
Also, don’t be afraid of building relationships within your field of expertise, your niche is likely to be where firm friendships are built because you'll truly understand each other! Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it, being pals with the competition. Kind of goes against everything we’re ‘supposed’ to do in the survival of the fittest.
Well my friend, throw that rubbish rule book out of the window! My business besties are all within the PR, social media and coaching sectors. You’d be amazed to see what doors can open when you open your mind to collaboration over competition and truly welcome it into your life.
4. Invest in learning
Investing in your learning is vital for the success of your business. There will always be things we need to learn in business and it’s about choosing wisely. Don’t fall down the trap of doing every single free webinar that comes your way because there are a lot of them out there!
It’s easy to get sucked into the noise when you’re starting out. You can lose days watching and learning, to the point that you can overwhelm yourself with information. Think about the things that you really want to learn. The things that will really benefit your business and will really help you grow and expand your knowledge - what will help your clients and attract new ones? Only follow the people that you really resonate with and teach you things that help you grow.
There are also great benefits of investing in a coach – someone who’s been where you are now. A great quote I heard recently is ‘success leaves breadcrumbs.’ Look for the breadcrumbs that lead to the success you want - breadcrumbs that relate to you, breadcrumbs that are in your vision. Follow those breadcrumbs to your own version of success. Don’t copy and use people as a blueprint, instead use them as inspiration, how did they get to where they are.
Find people that you can learn from and invest in them with their coaching, courses or workshops if you can. Use their breadcrumbs to find your own version of success. Investing in learning will make you stand apart from the crowd.
5. Speak to yourself like you would a best friend
It’s so easy to compare yourself to people that are doing similar things to you but you need to remember that they are at a different stage in their journey.
I’ve got people in my circle who I really look up to and feel super inspired by, and initially, it was hard not to compare myself. But what I have made a real effort to remind myself is that I’m at the end of year one of my business, whereas my peers have been established for four and five years, some even 10 or 20!
You are your own version of business, you are your own person, you have your own knowledge. You have your own brilliance. You will not build a successful, sustainable business by copying someone else’s success. Stay in your lane, find your zone of genius and use others as inspiration.
A great way to avoid ‘comparisonitis’ is to minimise your social media scrolling. Remember, social media is a showreel – it’s not a true reflection of life. People don’t talk about the bad days, of which you can guarantee there will be some, the ups and downs are part of life!
We all know that when owning a business, one day you can feel on cloud nine and the next day you can hit rock bottom. The key is to keep going and build your foundations - don’t rush the process. Look at where you want to be and work towards those goals. Do something every day that moves you a little closer. And remember don’t be too hard on yourself.
I’m at the point in my business where I’m investing in my mindset because growing the business has uncovered a few things for me that I need to work on in order to keep growing. Speak to yourself like you would a best friend and think what advice would you give to them?
I hope you’ve found my reflections useful – please let me know below if you did.
Remember, don’t get swept up in doing everything. Do the things that you feel passionate about and don’t be influenced too much by what everyone else is doing. Use the breadcrumbs for success as inspiration to create your own path. There is room for everyone in business.
If you trust the process and follow your vision and goals, change tactics where you need to, and be open-minded to change, you won’t go far wrong. Also, be protective of your boundaries so that you don’t burn out.
Here’s to year two!