Twelve years ago today I had a dream to create a different life. I wanted to be extraordinary, I wanted to be my own boss and I wanted to do something different.
Today is marked down for a reason. It was the day that I finally took action. I booked a room to host my very first art class. It was nerve-racking, I hadn’t advertised yet, found a model for the class or how to even pull it off. All I had was a deadline looming over my head.
Fast forward to now, I have operated four of my own businesses, helped close to one hundred others to improve theirs using online marketing, implementing operation systems, design and branding and so much more. I have learnt so much on my journey so far and today I want to share them with you.
Because starting a business is one of the greatest things you can ever do but to be successful you need to grow.
12 lessons from 12 years of Entrepreneurship
1. Never stop learning
Twelve years ago blogging looked completely different. It was about writing content quickly and producing loads of it. Thankfully times have changed and it has evolved and now I am only writing one post a week. But during the early days of my content creating I actually studied journalism to help me pick up my writing skills and be able to produce more content quickly. At first, I was so slow, I had no clue about what I should write and soon developed my own method and style to create content.
Be it learning to blog or something else in your business that needs to evolve look at ways you can develop it through learning. Keeping an open mind and furthering your own knowledge on different components of your business – it will keep you in front.
2. It’s all about community
A successful brand and business is one that is all about community. Having a strong group of people around you, sharing, engaging, and talking about your business is a powerful tool. Creating a community around your business doesn’t necessarily have to lead to more sales it’s about creating hype. For example, for my art classes, I use to run yearly art exhibitions for my students. It was a load of hard work and I didn’t get any monetary gain from it but I loved the event. In return for these events more and more people would talk about my art classes. Years later on my blog, I created a blog hop called the Garden Share Collective, where we had monthly get-togethers and talk about what was happening in the garden. These use to bring loads of traffic to my blog and I landed speaking roles at several events in the area I lived. People love to garden!
The one thing you can take away from building a community for your brand is that you need to love it, you are doing it from a place that is heartfelt and of service. My new community is the Online Biz Besties group where I get to hang out with other fabulous women and talk about developing our businesses – its loads of fun.
3. Have a clear vision
There is no point trying to build an empire when you don’t have a clear vision. Now I am not saying that you need to have a five-year plan because let’s be honest when you are an entrepreneur things change. Life happens and your business evolves. But what you do need is a clear vision for where your business is heading and what you would like it to look like.
Think about the following for a moment – What do you want to be known for?
If it is to just pay the bills that is fine but that is all that you are going to do. Allow yourself to really visualize what your business will look like in the future. How are you going to make an impact? Are you and your business going to be known for being wildly successful, the philanthropic work you do on the side or the life-changing course you create?
4. Know your customer
Imagine this for a moment. You are a hairdresser and you specialise in haircuts that transform people’s concept of great hair that is practical. But the only problem is you are talking to the wrong people. Knowing exactly who your customer is and what their needs and wants are you can advertise to them directly instead of perhaps to the masses.
I do think if you can target your ideal customer when it comes to promoting your business which is narrowed down to a small niche group. It will save you money and time. You can’t please everyone so please the people you can help. Want to read more about why you need to know your ideal customer – here are five reasons.
5. It’s a marathon, not a sprint – Don’t give up
I have established three businesses over the last twelve years and the first year is always the toughest. Not only is it built in with so much learning. It is also the time when finances are tight and for me, that leads to stress. However doing this now for the third time, I have come to realise that a really successful business grows organically.
And, to be honest, you don’t have to do it all straight away. Allow yourself space to breath and enjoy the ride. Each business evolves over time, it changes and moves direction (perhaps only slightly) but you need to have enough space to see it happen.
I am going to refer back to blogging again, it really is a great element to add to your website but here is the thing. It takes time for Google to recognise it, and then as you keep doing it over time, you start to get more and more hits. In any business, it takes time to get your feet off the ground. But as word of mouth spreads, your website listing increases and your social platforms grow so too will your business. Be patient. It’s coming.
6. Resist the urge to compare yourself to others
If you truly believe in what you are doing, you won’t feel the need to go and check out what others are doing and then fall into a pit of despair because you aren’t them!
Focus on your business and where you are going and that is it. I know it is easier said than done, but it does take time to grow a business and if you are comparing yourself to others who have been in the game for years and you have just started, you are wasting valuable time. You could be focusing on ways to improve your business instead.
7. Never be afraid to reinvent yourself
Molding and tuning into what helps your ideal customer may see you changing direction. To be honest I have have done it. I initially started my business to help mums start their dream business and it has evolved to me consulting more than I had anticipated. I retarget my ideal client to the go-getter, high vibe entrepreneur who is wanting action now and needs help with their marketing. And I am getting more business because I listened to what my customers wanted but also found that I really loved the work.
8. Some people won’t understand you and what you do, and that’s ok
This has happened to me so many times. When I was a full-time blogger, I tried to explain to people what I do for a living and they would glaze over. Look, it even took my parents a few years to come around to understanding. They got there.
The thing is the people who don’t get what you do are not the people that need your services, you can still explain briefly what you do because you never know who people know. So when they get that glazed over look in their eye, just ask them a question about them. Turn it around.
9. You have to invest in it
You need to spend money to make money. The more you invest in your business the more you will grow your business. I remember scrunching my face up at the thought of even spending money on my business to help it grow. I was stubborn and I also believed that I could do it myself. I was young what can I say.
When I ran my first ever facebook ad I spent $5. It was huge. But what I got was 50 new likes on my facebook page. Now, this was almost eight years ago, so don’t expect that to happen again unless you know of any special facebook magic genies that I don’t. (if you do send them my way). Ok, so it was a big deal. From there I went on to use Facebook ads to promote my workshops which would sell out. The only way for me to get those people was to advertise. That is only one way you can spend money on your business there are so many other ways. But if it is time to invest in your biz to grow, do some research, pull up your knickers and dive in! You won’t regret it.
10. Have multiple sources of income
This is something that I have learnt from when I first started blogging. Ten years ago, if you wanted to make money blogging, you had to mix it up. I use to run Google ads, do sponsored content, I also wrote recipes for local papers, ran workshops and did some speaking engagements. If I only focused on just one of those things, what would happen if I couldn’t find work or it was a crap month for speaking gigs? So no matter what you do, take a look at your product list, see what you have to offer and create new ways to create more income.
Right now I do business coaching, a lot of consulting and soon I will be running workshops and online courses. Multiple sources of income.
11.Build a great team
Here is the biggest tip: Do not hire someone because they are cheap, or they are super qualified. Because – get ready – you can always train someone to do a job. So hire someone who gets your business, someone that you can easily communicate with and above all could imagine going out on a Friday night with to have a drink.
A strong team builds a strong business, and anyone can be trained with a little time and effort to do a job the way you like it. So invest in personality that helps your business be what it is.
12. Learn from mistakes.
Have the humility to learn from your mistakes and be ok with actually making them. By making mistakes you can improve things that were a little wonky or need fixing to make your business better. But you also don’t want to go out of your way to make mistakes. Always be aware of what can or is happening in any of your business procedures.
Some of my greatest work has come from mistakes. I wouldn’t be so darn organised if I didn’t learn from previous behaviours. I seek out solutions or alternative methods for many of my daily tasks. Because I don’t just want to be average I want to do something great.
Hopefully, I have shared some of my wisdom along with some of how I got to where I am today. Let’s call it a sneak peek into my life.
What is the number one thing you have learnt in your business?