I’m close to the 5th anniversary of starting my own business and that’s a huge milestone for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about how far I have come… about my successes and the good times AND all the mistakes I’m grateful I made because they’ve made me and my business better.
Here are my three biggest lessons (because that’s all mistakes really are, IF you’re paying attention):
1. Not asking for help. Part of this was just being cheap. I made excuses then about not being able to afford help, but that revealed the deeper issue — FEAR. I was afraid to admit I couldn’t do it on my own (which I falsely believed was at the core of owning my own business) and I was afraid I wouldn’t make enough to pay my own personal bills, much less anybody else. So I tried to do everything on my own – even my quarterly tax reports! In no known universe should I have EVER been doing any kind of bookkeeping to that level. All that did was steal far too much time and energy away from what I should have been focused on. My time and my energy are essential to my business thriving… but I was constricting that with all the heavy lifting and frustration of the day-to-day. Now, I consider finding and engaging help as a mission-critical investment. Currently, I have 5-7 people supporting me at any given time and I could easily grow that number (and probably will) in the near future.
2. Not charging enough for my services and expertise. And to be honest, I still struggle with this one as my business and I grow. Understanding and knowing your value is at the core of what I teach my clients on all levels… because to me, it’s the core of having and creating success. If you understand what’s special about who you are, what you do and the value it brings to others, then you’ll always know what your work is worth. Your unique combination of qualities is what differentiates you from the next person, even if they provide something similar. Once you figure that out, it’s easier to set your rates or pricing for your products that makes sense for you and your marketplace. It’s a continual process as you grow and change but after you do it the first time and see the results, you’ll get better at it.
3. Not starting sooner. I’ve had ideas for businesses for YEARS… at least 10 years before I actually incorporated my current business. But I never acted on them… partly because I didn’t think I had the skills for entrepreneurship, partly because of fear that they weren’t really viable. While I believe everything happens as it should, when we’re ready and I have no regrets, I wish I had tried some of those ideas when I got them. Knowing what I know now, I could have pulled off at least one of them while I was working full-time and I would have learned the first two lessons sooner. But mostly I wonder, what they could have become?
And these are only the top three… I share them in the hopes that you avoid them and learn the lessons I already did, so you’ll have the energy for the mistakes you’ll make and learn from. To me, this is just another step on my journey living in Fearless Authenticity… it takes vulnerability, strength and tenacity to look at yourself, know and admit you screwed up, then choose to do something different. And that’s what it takes to be better at whatever you want to be — person, leader, salesperson, co-worker, business owner — and see more success as you define it.
Here’s to celebrating the imperfections along the way!