At the age of 24 years old, freshly married, I decided that employment wasn’t my future and I started my first business. Last week marked 10 years in business for me.
It has definitely been a rollercoaster. I’m not a big rollercoaster fan (mainly because I have a bad fear of heights), but I’m really glad I got on this one.
So, what have I learnt in my ten years of business?
Don’t Do It All Yourself
In terms of the payroll, my business is just me. But I’ve used many, many services over the years that I could technically have done myself, but either would have done them badly or wasted time that I could have spent on growing the business. Knowing the worth of my time shifted a lot of things for me, and I stopped doing stuff that could be outsourced.
When I started my first business, an employee survey business (for which I still do work for clients, though focus the majority of my efforts on the social media training business now), I thought I could get a great website then the phone would start ringing. It didn’t! I quickly learned I would need to focus the majority of my efforts on marketing. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if no one knows about you!
Your Business Could/Will Change
When I started Personnel Surveys, I thought that was it for me, my business was outlined for ever more. Within a year, I had started Sam Flynn Social Media. I never would have dreamt that it would become my main business and passion. And it’s going to change again next year (though still with a social media training focus!). Nothing is permanent. And, when I listen to interviews with entrepreneurs, it seems that many started out on a completely different route to the one they’re now on!
It Won’t Always Be Easy
After having my second daughter, I really struggled to get back into my business. There were numerous factors (the main being that she was a terrible sleeper, and I was running on about 2-3 hours a night!) but I seriously thought about calling it a day and seeking employment. I decided to give it another 6 months to cement my decision. That was about 3.5 years ago. I’m still here and so glad I stuck around!
Learning is Key
I’ve always been quite academic and love learning new things. And I can’t imagine my business would be where it is today if I hadn’t kept learning new things. Reading books, listening to podcasts, investing in courses and memberships. There’s always something new to learn when it comes to running your business, and I love that!
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
There have been so many ways in which I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone as a business owner. I’m quite a shy person, so even going networking felt like a huge step for me. Putting myself out of my comfort zone, going on the stage, creating video content, putting myself out there more, has actually really helped my overcome my shyness. And the saying I always have in my head is ‘success happens outside of comfort zones’.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Before I had my first daughter, I worked flat out on my business. After having her, I cut down to 2-3 days a week. I now work only 3 days a week, but my business is more successful than it was working 5+ days a week. I’ve realised the importance of working smart and making the most of the working time I do have. Time off is so important. And I started my business to allow me the flexibility to be with my children, which is working out great!
It Will Be Stressful Sometimes
I’ve had times of extreme stress. It’s not as possible to walk out the door at the end of the day and switch off from work when it’s your business. I often wake in the middle of the night stressing about something to do with the business. I’m trying to find ways to make sure that doesn’t happen, but it’s not always that easy!
You Decide What Success Looks Like
Success is different for every person. And it can change. How success looked like for me when I started the business is different to how I view success now. And it’ll change again in the future, especially when I have all 3 girls in school! Right now, I do feel successful. I’m running a business that works well around my family, that allows me two days a week to do school runs and spend with my youngest, that gives me an admirable income and that I enjoy. I’d say that’s a success for me!
Business Relationships Matter
In the early years of being in business, I did a lot of networking. I dropped back on networking after having my first daughter, and shifted most of that online. While I work on my own, I have lots of people that I’ve built working relationships with over the years. And they have been so valuable for me. I love meeting new people, especially now on social media, and building those relationships.
It’s been a good ten years and I’m so excited for the next ten!
What have you learnt in your time as a business owner?