What a difference a year makes.
Today, I celebrate one year of running my own business, and I do mean celebrate. Stepping out in a leap of faith (with a lot of determination and coffee..so.much.coffee.), has been the most rewarding life change I could have ever imagined.
The past year has launched me into learning experiences I’ll forever value. It has been an amazing 365-day journey, and the exciting part is, it’s just getting started. Here are my year one lessons, life hacks and results of figuring it out along the way.
1. Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.
I evaluated how “busy” I claimed to be versus how productive I was in my day. When I became mindful of the time I spent just being busy – also recognized as being overwhelmed by everything I wasn’t actually doing – I was able to get real with myself about developing habits that showed measurable results, not notepads full of to-do lists.
2. Build and rely on a support system.
Clocking in to an office for one can be glorious…and very lonely. Entrepreneurship is inherently a solo sport but building a community of like-minded people can offer the support you need on the uninspired days. Search for creative minds in and outside of your niche to bounce ideas off of and help you develop a sense of community.
3. To disconnect.
To preserve my sanity beyond the first year of business, I had to develop boundaries. When work is home and home is work, dinner can easily flow into a few emails and before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re working on the next day’s tasks. Part of enjoying working for myself, is knowing when to not work. I recognize when it’s time to walk away, for an hour, for the day. I value the time I’m disconnected.
4. Play up my strengths.
What’s interesting to me is so many scenarios in life teach us to work on our weaknesses. I shifted my concentration to what I do well and outsource the rest. Whatever I found I was spending too much time on and could never get quite right, I hired the right person to join my team and take it over. You can’t possibly be intensely talented in every aspect of your business. Choose the ones that aren’t your natural gifts, or that you just secretly despise, and hire someone awesome.
5. I developed a daily routine.
It’s hugely important to me to have routine. Establishing familiarity lets me know the day has started and I am in tune with the goals I need to accomplish. I firmly believe the way you do one thing is the way you do everything, so each day I take the time to check in with myself, with my goals, and make sure I’m on track.
6. Stop watching the race and start running it.
When you build your support community or know other entrepreneurs, there’s a natural tendency to want to keep up with someone else’s speed. Whether it’s taking on new clients, launching products, or growing your team – run at your own pace. I realized I run a much stronger race when I’m concentrated on the finish line rather than the runner beside me.
7. Set aside the guilt and offer myself grace.
Some days are tough. Not the my-favorite-show-is-on-a-Netflix-marathon-but-I-have-to-work tough. The days that leave you mentally drained and unprepared to deal with the next hurdle. These are the moments when I allow myself to rest. I push past the guilt (although it’s a work in progress) and offer myself grace to take a moment – a day, a weekend – to recollect and center. You are no good to anyone if you’re not first good to yourself.
8. Stop setting limits for my business (and myself).
When I decided to launch my own online business, I delved into web design thinking it was the only legitimate way to get in front of potential clients to offer my services. It didn’t take long to discover people needed my help – help from my actual skillset. Implementing systems, improving internal communication, and managing projects. People wanted to hire me for what I was good at, not what I assumed they would need. Now I find ways to package and market what I know will be useful for businesses, not the next big thing that’s sweeping the digital marketing blogs.
9. Stop planning to plan.
Learning to appreciate the present can be tough. Even when I turn the computer off for the night, it’s hard to stop mentally planning for the next day. I make a conscious effort now to enjoy being. Whether I’m alone or spending time with friends and family, I don’t want to miss the moment. It’s important to get out of your own head. The presentation will go well. The project will be complete. The contract will be signed. Live for now. You’ll never get another one.
10. Accept change because I cannot stop it.
Perhaps this lesson should be considered a default since it really wouldn’t matter if I wanted to accept it or not. Since change is inevitable, I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. Whether it’s being in the know with changes in my industry, accepting when it’s time to separate from a client, or taking on a new venture, change can make way for new growth.
I’m excited for year number two and the lessons I’ll learn (and share) along the way. Here’s hoping your 2019 brings fulfilling life ventures and business.
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