Lessons From My First Year in Business


1st year business

Like most people do at the start of a new year, I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing my wins and losses of the past year. 2014 was my first full year in business. My first year as a solo entrepreneur – a mompreneur. I had no idea what I was getting into. I’m one who looks at myself through negative lenses – no win is ever big enough and all losses are worse in my head than in reality.

“See things as they are. Don’t see them as better than they are and don’t see them as worse than they are.”- Tony Robbins

It’s only by looking at the reality of things that we can learn the lessons we need to learn. Here is what I learned about myself and my business in 2014.

  1. Don’t live in isolation just because you feel like a failure.

    Isolating yourself will make you feel like MORE of a failure.Over the summer, I landed and lost my biggest client to date. The extreme high of getting the gig followed by (3 months later) the kick in the stomach of being told that things aren’t working out, was more than I could handle. It didn’t matter that this client was not my ideal. It didn’t matter that I saw red flags all over the place from day one and that I was NOT happy working for them. It didn’t matter that the final outcome – them deciding to hire someone inhouse to do what I was doing – was truly what they needed.

    I had failed.

    I had an opportunity and I blew it. That started the spiral. The downward, negative, “what am I doing in this business? I’m such a fraud. I’m never going to be more than just a front desk person” spiral. With that came a halt to my marketing and blogging – making me feel like more of a fraud because I wasn’t doing the very things I was telling clients that they should do. I stopped going to networking meetings, avoided calls from other professional friends who would have totally called me out on my actions.

    I took my daughter to the beach instead.

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    Granted, I don’t regret that time at the beach with my baby girl but the rest of the time could have been much more productive.

    Lesson: Don’t isolate. Acknowledge the failure for what it was, learn the lesson and keep going. Get around people who will help you maintain the proper perspective. Stop burying your head in the sand!

  2. Learning is great…in moderation.
    Then, there was the running. Oh, so much running. I participated in 10 races last year, including a 1/2 marathon (a goal that was 3 years in the making). I succumbed to the peer pressure and finally gave running a real effort.

    Races are great. There’s a cult-like community in running. Race day is the chance for runners to get together and celebrate this sport that they love. Daily running, however, is a pretty solitary sport. For me, that lead to more isolation. Lots of time to think…about failures. Lots of time to criticize myself about how I wasn’t even running right because my training time was limited due to a husband that leaves for work by 6am and a toddler in the house and…you get the idea. So, instead, I listened to podcast after podcast to take my mind off of the running and my “failures”. I got so overwhelmed with the influx of new ideas that I was frozen to take any action.

    Lesson: Learn things as you need them. It does no good to listen to training on things that you can’t do for a year or more. It will clutter your thoughts and you’ll lose site of what you’re doing now. It will dilute your focus. Chose 1 or 2 things that you need to learn right now. Things that will have the biggest impact on your life in this moment, and devote a period of time to learning about that and only that. Save the rest for later.

  3. Ask for help.
    I don’t ask for help. From anyone. Ever. I need to be able to handle things on my own. I need to know how to do everything so that I don’t look stupid to others. Asking for help makes me feel stupid.
    The reality is: Who cares if I don’t know something? Who cares if I need to ask for help? The whole VA industry is built on people asking for help with things that they don’t know how to do or want to do. People that ask for help get shit done! They make money! They have the life that they want. They have real businesses – not hobbies that take up way too much of their time and that they have begun to dread.
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    Lesson: Smart people…successful people…happy people ask for help. That’s how they became smart, successful and happy.

  4. If you aren’t true to yourself, you will never be happy or successful.
    This year has been a series of ups and downs. It started strong but with my summertime failure, I lost my way. I got caught up in the failure spiral. I felt torn between the business that I worked so hard to start and one that was swirling in my head just needing to get out. I couldn’t see how to meld the 2 things together. I followed the advice in Lesson #3 and asked for help from people who are killing it in businesses where they are truly THEM! I now have a better idea of how to add more of me into my business and that’s pretty freakin’ exciting.

    Lesson: Stop trying to be what you think others want you to be. Be you. Trust you. The business part will work itself out.

  5. Focus on the right things.
    It’s funny how we can find examples from our lives to prove whatever we believe about ourselves. Feel like a failure? You can find proof for that. Feel not smart enough? There’s proof for that too.
    Feel strong and successful? Not really? But if you wanted to, you could also find proof for that.

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    It’s so sad to see someone let one failure in their life define them for years.

    “I tried to change my career once and it didn’t work.”

    That doesn’t mean that you’re destined to stay miserable for your entire life. Try something new. Maybe all you need is a tweak in what you are currently doing. A 1mm shift today sends you to a completely different outcome 5 years from now.

    So, now, I’m tweaking. I’m shifting my business to reflect who I really am so I can help other people like me. Moms – the ultimate CEOs – who have to manage families, home, finances, errands, relationships, businesses, oh, and have time to take care of themselves too.

    Lesson: There’s power in what we focus on. It grows and expands. It takes up more brain space. Focus on who and what you want to be. You’ll find examples of yourself already being it. That will grow. Failures do not define you. They are only lessons designed to teach you what you need to learn. Learn from them and let the emotion of them go.

The past 3 years have been a whirlwind. Having my daughter and starting my business have made me question every aspect of who I am. These 2 things that have the ability to bring so much excitement and joy also generate immense guilt and self doubt.Being a mompreneur is really hard. Finding balance is really hard. Not feeling like a failure every day is really, REALLY hard.

But it’s so worth it, right?

Being able to stay home with my daughter when she wakes up with a fever makes it worth it. Having a client tell you how much they appreciate everything you do for them…that’s worth it. That’s why we press on…

What did you learn about yourself in your first year of business? Please share in the comments.

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