June 10th 2019. My first day of full time work as the Founder & Creative Director of The Social Bolt. After months of planning and preparing the day had arrived and I was ready to jump into the adventure that was starting my own business. Well I thought I was ready, but on reflection I now know that nothing could fully prepare me for what was about to come.
If you’re thinking of stepping into being your own biz boss, here are some of my reflections from my first 7 months in business. These are 8 lessons I’ve learned from starting my own business.
1. No is a complete sentence.
As an eternal people pleaser I often find it hard to say no, but sometimes you need to say no. It helps to create boundaries and set expectations. I was scared to say no because it felt like I was turning away opportunities or letting people down, but I soon realised that by saying no, I was actually saying yes to opportunities that were more aligned to what I wanted. Remember that you are allowed to say no and you don’t have to justify your decision to anyone (other than yourself). If it’s not a HELL YES it’s a NO from me.
2. Working on your business is not selfish.
Your business will not grow and scale if you don’t work on it. Change is inevitable and your business will evolve as you continually learn more about yourself and how to run a business, but if you don’t work on your business to improve how you run it, it will stagnate. I know it’s easy to get caught up in client work, but you are actually doing your clients a disservice if you don’t work on your business. Time spent working on your business allows you to see what is and isn’t working and make changes as required. There are always things to learn and ways to improve and this will not only help your business but improve your client experience too. Schedule in a CEO Day each month and spend the entire day working on your business.
3. If you don’t like something you have the power to change it.
I know that I started my business because I wanted the flexibility to do business my way. That involved slow mornings, spending every single day with my dog Ned and doing tasks that I am so passionate about that it doesn’t feel like work. Obviously, it won’t always be doggos, flowers and red wine but YOU get to CHOOSE how your business looks, what services you offer, what you charge, who you work with and so on. You also don’t need permission to change something within your business. Life is too short to spend it doing shit you hate. Make the changes.
4. Done is better than perfect.
Yes it’s true. You will overthink yourself into inaction if you try and do everything perfectly. I am a self confessed perfectionist but I have found that the more pressure I put on myself to do things perfectly every time, the more paralysing the fear is and I spend wayyyyy too much time stuck in that fear, not actually doing the thing. You don’t need to do everything perfectly *eye twitch* and it sure as hell is ok to learn and tweak things as you go. No one is perfect, not even Beyonce. Just do the thing.
5. There are no failures, there are only lessons.
When something doesn’t work out how you anticipated or hoped, allow yourself the space to reflect and identify what went wrong and how you can improve going forward. You are now one step closer to where you want to be. No one ever starts a business and is an “overnight success”. Running your own business is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Don’t view your failures as a negative experience, instead think about what you can learn from them. As Marie Forleo says “Everything is Figureoutable” – there isn’t any problem or obstacle that you can’t work out if you take the time to listen, to learn and to adapt.
6. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, who support you and who inspire you to grow.
Once you step into your power and own who you are meant to be you will attract like minded people into your orbit. These people will often force you to reassess some of the relationships in your life. The reality of starting your own business is that you will often drift apart from people in your life. People you were once close with will always find it hard to understand how you could leave a well-paying and secure job, to chase a dream that for many ends in failure. That’s why fellow biz friends are important, because they speak your language and understand the reality of biz life. I have met some pretty epic humans in the last 7 months, both in real life and through social media. Be inspired by those around you, learn from them, but DON’T COMPARE. Stay in your own lane and focus on being the best version of yourself that you can be.
7. Keep investing in yourself
Keep on learning. I will ALWAYS continue to invest in personal development. I invested in myself from Day 1 and I am always looking for opportunities to expand my knowledge. It is good for me AND for my business #doublewinning! A lot of people I spoke to prior to starting my business wish they had invested in a business coach when they first started, so that’s what I did. I knew that mastering my mindset was going to be key for me starting out, so I wanted someone who would be kind but hold me accountable. The Social Bolt would not be in the position it is today if I had not invested in my magical business coach – FACT. Remember that you are the most important part of your business.
The best investments I’ve made in my business have been:
- Ellie Swift – EVERYTHING that Ellie does is magic.
- Juicy Creative Co – Pinterest Party
- Read City Writing – SEO for Beginners
- Brooke Vulinovich – Social Club Membership
8. You didn’t start your business to work yourself to the brink of burnout
I always told myself that being the hardest worker would set me apart from the rest. But when I kept pushing myself, my mind and body started screaming at me. I finally listened and I surrendered. It’s only a matter of time before they will force you to listen. Pushing yourself to the brink of burnout does you no favours. Being your own boss does require a dedicated person. A resilient person. Someone willing to make sacrifices BUT there has to be balance. Make time for yourself now because while you can always make more money, you can never get back time.
Starting your own business is an epic journey filled with many highs and lows. It takes a brave person to throw themselves into it, but I believe the rewards are worth the risk. When things get tough, go back to why you started your business. Mine was to be a stay at home dog mum, so when I am having a hard time I take some time out to hug Ned, to sit with him, to go for a walk. That tends to realign my focus and make me feel better, and if it doesn’t, it’s time to have a closer look at why I feel this way, and what I can do to fix it. What can I say, starting your own business is certainly never boring!