5 Takeaways from 5 Years in Business
March 2017 marks my fifth year in business, and I’m celebrating by sharing my five biggest takeaways.
You don’t have to take a job that’s “out there” you can create your experience. The process can be intimating but having someone who’s “been there” can help. If you are looking for guidance, contact me personally for a complimentary consultation, by clicking here.
Saying I’ve developed a business for over five years is a sentence that shocks me a little as a write it. If I can do it, anyone can carve out a path for themselves. All you need is enough courage and a goal you are willing to sacrifice everything to achieve. I wouldn’t say I’ve figured it all out, but I’ve learned a few things from my mistakes. Avoid a few of my notable bumps in the road by reading my biggest takeaways.
Create What You Seek
Creation is crucial if you want business success no matter what age you may be. My background is in the online content management industry which requires an endless supply of creativity. I create graphics, infographics, blog posts, and the overall content strategy for businesses.
What I also create are business relationships, referral relationships, designer relationships, and industry relationships. The amount of things you must create as a business owner can seem endless. The trick is nurturing experiences that will take you to the n. If you aren’t willing to do something it isn’t going to happen this can be a tough takeaway but one you must learn early on in your career.
Character Counts More Than Hype
We all know people that ooze charisma. Charm can help get your foot in the door but when it comes to long-term success people will start to see right through those alluring dimples. You have to do more than just look the part; you have to possess the kind of character that builds trust. Doesn’t the old saying go, “People do business with who they like, know, and trust.” To me, the third adjective is the most important. From my experience, nothing kills a business relationship faster than lack of faith.
Whether it is a product or a service in today’s economy you can not hide, cover up, or hope no one notices. This is why good character is crucial when your clients or customers feel like you genuinely care about them the decision to leave or discontinue is more thoroughly thought through than if they have no personal connection with them.
I have lost clients when the person “felt” like I was not, personally, focused on them enough. I’ve also nurtured relationships for years to the point that many of my clients feel they couldn’t trust anyone else. The relationship we have is worth more than any numerical value. If you create one successful business relationship, you can build more. Whether you are emailing, texting, in a one-on-one meeting or connecting for a Skype call, prepare early, no one wants to wait on you, show a genuine interest in everything he/she says and offer ways you can help. You don’t have to have a power point, spend thousands of dollars on a website, or have a pitch memorized to impress someone. People will be impressed by your focus. Let actions do all the talking.
Give Yourself Time To Reflect
If you are looking to be a young entrepreneur the sooner, you learn to give yourself time to reflect when you’re in a heated situation the more relationships you will be able to keep intact as the years go on. Remember to keep your cool during conversations relating to experience, delegation, and even payment. That can be a tough one to learn especially as your time as a young business owner grows, you have to remember that life experience does count and you need to understand your place.
I can remember having issues with an out-of-state client. The account was a large one for me, in the fashion industry which I loved, this was during a time when I felt my business was taking off and my brand was quite something. I was more confident during this time but often nieve.
I sent over my neatly typed six-months contract, which the client had agreed to, and felt invincible. Nothing would stop me from having this customer for at least six months. After taking over the content management, I pitched maintaining an additional blog without thinking twice, and she seemed enthusiastic about the idea. When problems started to emerge with my seemingly perfect client I snapped at the store owner in an email and quickly received a call where she scolded me for my lack of business etiquette.
Being twenty-three at the time and thinking I knew everything I remember rolling my eyes and dismissing her comment. Oh to be young and assume you know more than someone operating a successful Brick & Mortar boutique. I often miss the false confidence but have embraced the earned wisdom. Having years to reflect on the situation I regret sending that email and dismissing her advice. I did learn a valuable lesson, though, if you get a text, email, voicemail or some other kind of correspondence that impacts you emotionally. WAIT to respond I would say at least 12 hours but if time persists take twenty-four hours to respond if you need. It is better to say nothing than to say something you will later regret. A good night’s sleep can cure many things, maybe even the urge to create unnecessary drama in your business. No matter how upset you are remember that you are responsible for your brand.
Age, Education, and Experience Don’t Mean Everything
Speaking of learning to pause and reflect before responding in emotionally charged situations my next biggest takeaway after five years in business by twenty five is to stand up for yourself and your ideas even when someone is being disrespectful to you.
Making an effort to be respectful and not send emotionally charged virtual correspondence is smart. Allowing someone to discredit you because of your age or for simply being new to the area is not. I learned this takeaway while networking in Denver, Colorado after relocating from Boise, Idaho. Not having a single business contact in the area prior to moving was scary indeed. Add in the fact that I was twenty-three and a week out of college and I can say that I was beyond nervous and FORGOT to factor in my previous business success. If you can be successful in one place, you can be successful in another if you have the right mindset. I let insecurity ruin mine.
I found myself wrapped up in creating business relationships that were completely one-sided because I felt like they “knew Denver” which was something I was lacking. I forget what made my business successful, to begin with when I started. Which I can say now is not the case. I let me age and being new to the area hold me back. I felt like I need to help certain people to get into the local scene and made this mistake multiple times. In business and in life the majority of people are out for themselves to some extent, if you can find someone that is genuinely interested in collaborating, respect those relationships. They can be few and far in between. Avoid superficial relationships from the start. If someone is ignoring you, to begin with, chances are they will continue to discredit the relationship you are working to build.
I’ve often found myself in business relationships that weren’t serving me and stayed in them for too long because I thought it helped me in a new area. Now that I’m not so new I realized that I needed to stay focused on my vision. When you’re in business it’s okay to say no at any point in any relationship. If something doesn’t feel right say something and move on if the situation still is not fixed, you cannot fix everything, and you’ll feel saner if you don’t try too. Every second, day, week, or year you make it as an entrepreneur matters don’t forget your strength in a moment (or moments) of temporary weakness.
Develop Fierce Independence
When you own a business there is no one telling you when to clock on and when to clock off, there is no “quality control” there is no distinct ladder to climb. This fact can scare many and can keep one from hitting the one-year, five-year, or 10-year mark. One of my greatest takeaway from over five years building my brand is you MUST be ready to be fiercely independent. This doesn’t mean you will do everything alone; it means you have to be willing to own up to the mistakes, missteps, wrong turns, and then, in turn, you will be able to take credit for your first success. The more independent you are in making decisions, the easier the road will be. Don’t stop or start based on other people’s will you must become the driving force. You will no longer be dependent on an employer, and if you get successful enough soon, employees will be looking to you.