It’s hard to believe that I’ve owned my own full-time business for HALF A DECADE. (Holy crap!!!)
There have been moments of glory, moments of frustration, mistakes, lessons learned, times where I felt inspired, times where I felt absolutely stuck, patches of self doubt, times where I sat at my computer almost in tears over taxes, (who am I kidding, I HAVE been in tears over taxes), beautiful moments of growth ... but overall it's been a really awesome experience and I’ve learned so much along the way! So today I’m sharing 15 lessons that I’ve learned from owning my own business thus far. It’s been one heck of a ride, and I can’t wait to continue on this journey of creative entrepreneurship!
1. Success doesn’t come over night.
Nope, sorry. Building a business with a loyal customer base and a tribe of followers takes time, consistency and experience. Don’t get frustrated if you see businesses seemingly gaining success overnight; they most likely have a backstory that involves countless hours of work!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Umm, I asked a TON of questions when I first started my business. Hell, I STILL ask questions! Don’t feel like a question is “stupid,” just remember that we ALL started from the beginning at some point!
3. Passion isn’t enough, you need a plan.
Passion is awesome, and you sure as hell better be passionate about the business you are starting/trying to grow because you are going to be putting a lot of hours into it! But unfortunately, it’s not enough. You NEED a plan. You need to take action, create goals with actionable steps and be smart about your business practices. (I've got a super juicy post on how to write your business plan with a free editable template right here!)
4. Under-promise and over-deliver.
It’s so much better to set expectations low and then blow people away than to set high expectations and let them down! Never promise what you can’t 110% do. For example, I will tell wedding clients that they can expect to receive their wedding photos 4-6 weeks after their wedding but I will almost always aim to deliver them in 2 weeks- this way it’s much sooner than they expected and they are absolutely THRILLED when they get them early! If however, I promised them their photos in 2 weeks and was unable to make that deadline and delivered them in 3 weeks, they would probably be just a wee bit disappointed.
5. Never start a business just to make money.
I know, sounds a bit counterintuitive. But trust me, if you don’t LOVE what you are doing then you will burn out quickly. And I think one of the greatest things about running your own business is being able to do something that you love on a daily basis for “work!” Aren't sure what idea to choose for starting your business? I wrote a post on how to do that right here!
6. Respect your time and talent.
If YOU don’t, then why should others? Respect for your time and talent should be reflected in your pricing as well as how you treat your business.
7. You will wear many hats.
Oh yes, I hope you like wearing lots of hats! I quickly learned when I started my wedding photography business that I wasn’t just a photographer. I was also head of marketing, advertising, web design, accounting and customer service!
8. Mistakes will happen.
Yep, it’s pretty inevitable. Go with the flow and learn from your mistakes! Don’t let them discourage you; let them inspire you to try something new or to try doing something differently! I wrote an entire post about how to overcome so-called "failure" right here!
9. You’ll need to learn to say “no.”
After awhile you’ll learn that this is a very valuable skill! You’ll need to learn to say “no” to clients that don’t fit your business mission statement and /or when you have too many things on your plate to do something well while retaining your sanity.
10. If you truly love what you do, you’ll feel like you’re never working.
It really is the BEST!!! Yes, it’s super hard work but it doesn’t really FEEL like work! (At least most of the time. Except for the accounting and taxes thing … I hate that! Haha.) But waking up each morning getting to do something you love is truly amazing.
11. Be yourself.
If you try to copy some one else you’ll always be second best and unoriginal. And one of the best parts about being original is that you’ll have no competition because you’ll be one-of-a-kind!
12. As Marie Forleo says, "Everything is figureoutable."
I didn’t start my business knowing how to build a website, what gear to choose, how to price my services, etc. I just figured it out. EVERYTHING is figureoutable! Don’t know how to do something? Ask some one who does. Google it. Get a book on it. Make up your own way.
13. Fear comes with the territory.
Yep, it’s natural. Just don’t let it hold you back and stop you from going forward! Fear is a sign that you’re moving out of your comfort zone, and that is a super necessary part of growing as a person AND as a business! I wrote this post on how to kick fear in the butt and go after your dreams!
14. Have a support system.
Having friends and family around to support your business, dreams and goals is an amazing thing. You might also consider joining some groups of like-minded people on Facebook!
15. Dooon’t stop, belieeeeeving!
:::singing like Journey::: Ehem. Sorry I couldn’t resist! But seriously. There will be days when you’re discouraged, stressed, burnt out and you’ll want to quit. When this happens, take a step back and remember the reasons why you started your business in the first place! Envision reaching your goals. Take a break for a couple hours or a few days if you need to! De-stress. Then get right back on track and keep on keep’in on!
I'm looking forward to what new lessons I'll learn over the NEXT 5 years! What about you, what's one of the most important lessons you've learned so far in business and blogging?
And now ... time for that mid-morning second cup of coffee!
Because I'm obsessed.