Running a business is not the same as working in the business.
Many people start a business because they are good at A Thing. What they don’t realize is that running a business about A Thing is completely different than actually doing A Thing. It requires forward-thinking, a strong team, and a hell of a lot of work.
Entrepreneurship is hard — I’ve learned that firsthand by running my own agency and serving small business owners in a variety of industries.
Every day, my team and I work with people who took a giant leap of faith, followed their idea, and started their entrepreneurial journey. As I’ve grown my business, I’ve found inspiration from each of our clients in how they run their business. Learning from my clients has been a great joy!
I want to share a few of these lessons to celebrate my agency’s two-year anniversary this month. Here are just some of the current and past clients who’ve taught me something; there are many more that I didn’t share and hopefully even more to come as we grow!
Your life experiences matter in what you’re doing. Consider all viewpoints, but don’t set your perspective, feelings, and opinions to the side. Inform your work with your experiences and you’ll get a better result.
Data is invaluable. There are patterns in the data that can challenge your assumptions or show you things you would otherwise be blind to. Use data to your advantage — don’t be afraid of it!
Dogged perseverance in pursuit of a strong vision will get you far. Like that Chumbawamba song, “I get knocked down…” — just keep getting up again. If the market is telling you something, LISTEN.
Make a great product that serves a specific need and the market will reward you. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy making a real difference in people’s lives.
Failure should be celebrated. Truly! This is not just lip service; if you’re not breaking something or failing, you’re not moving fast enough or trying enough new things. Just be sure to learn something from the failures.
Have FUN. This stuff is fun! You get to be creative, make something that lasts, and learn a lot along the way. You should be doing the work because you are passionate about it; let that passion shine through.
No matter the company size, process and documentation really matter. Having a structured system helps your team be more efficient, improves the quality of what you produce, and sets you up well for future growth. It’s also cool to be a little different and be proud of it.
Know your niche. You could serve everyone, but you should focus on a select group. You will be more successful if you understand what your customers need and tailor your services to them.
We’re all human. Even though it’s business, at the end of the day, we’re just people. We can (and should!) relate on a personal level, too. Go out of your way to connect and build strong relationships.
Your business can honor your family and your past, and your story is a necessary part of it. Whatever your comfort level in sharing, there are ways to weave in that authenticity and empower others to do the same.
Nerd out about your topic. It’s OK to get down in the details. Someone wants to hear it! In fact, most people would rather have all the information at their fingertips when exploring a product rather than hunting it down.
Sometimes you just gotta go for it. Break the mold and do it differently. You don’t have to be fearless — you just have to acknowledge the fear and take the leap regardless.
Like I said, these are just a few of the learnings that I try to incorporate daily. There are so many others that have shaped the way I work and lead my team.