I have now been in business for 5 years. My business supports my family and pays me a fairly good wage. I went from having one employee to now having five employees, so the business is doing well.
Over that 5 years, there have been many lessons that I have had to learn the hard way. I don’t know if I would have listened to anyone if they had tried to teach me these lessons before I started my business, but I can only try to pass them onto you:
The business would consume my life
It has. I don’t have much work-life balance. Everything revolves around the business, and I’m always thinking about it.
Accept it – that the business will be life-consuming – but also make a conscious effort to add other things into your life. Keep maintaining a healthy exercise routine, and make sure you calendar in dinners with friends, and date nights with your spouse. Or else the business will not leave you alone, and you’ll just fill your time with more work!
Address issues with staff as they arise
For years, I have thought that staff members would be adults with brains and want to learn. I have thought that they would recognise their mistakes and not repeat them. I have also thought that when a mistake is small, I would just take the time to fix it myself because it would be quicker.
The problem I have had to face recently is that my staff got so used to me picking up their slack, that I was feeling overwhelmed and resentful of them, and they were cruising along without a consequence for not doing their job properly. I have addressed this, which is very hard, and we are on the road to improvement.
I will never let things go for long anymore, and there are consequences if people don’t do their jobs.
Some people just won’t grow with you
I have also always assumed a level of intelligence, work ethic and motivation in others. I know that I am highly motivated and driven, and didn’t expect others to be as extreme as me, but I expected that everyone had something that motivated them at work. I was wrong!
There are some people who just go through the motions, who cannot learn, and who have no desire to do so. If you come across one of these people (and they are usually very pleasant), you will want to get rid of them as soon as possible.
You’re only as good as your marketing
I have been living under two incorrect beliefs. Firstly, I believed that if you were really good at what you did, your work would speak for itself. Secondly, I thought that someone’s image wouldn’t matter if they were highly skilled. Both beliefs are incorrect!
Just because you are really good at what you do, doesn’t mean people will know! Some word of mouth works, but it is very slow. You need to get good at telling everyone about what you do, and why you’re the best!
Also, image does count! People make judgments based on your personal image, your brand, and your offices. None of these things have anything to do with the quality of your work, but they can give someone the sense of confidence in you. Unfortunately this works the same for all those people who aren’t actually good at what they do, too! If they look good, it often takes a while for people to realise that they don’t know what they’re doing!
Nurture the connections you make
This is another mistake I have made throughout my life, and that was not putting enough emphasis on building my network and keeping in contact with people. I haven’t valued other people enough. But that has changed, and networking is a key component in my marketing strategy now, along with nurturing those relationships and trying to help those people as much as I can.