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Hi, I'm Steph
8 lessons from my first 2 years in business
May 5, 2018
Earlier this month, it was Wildbloom’s first birthday. It was also the second anniversary of the day I packed up my desk, handed back the company laptop and said a rather enthusiastic “Adios!” to corporate life (whilst knocking back a few glasses of bubbles).
The last 2 years have been the best, worst, scariest, most fun, most terrifying years of my life to date. There have been many days/weeks/months where I’ve felt like throwing in the towel and heading back to the comfort of a fortnightly paycheck. But, you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world.
That said, there are a couple of things I’ve learnt along the way and, no doubt, there will be many more lessons to come.
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
I’ve made mistakes (some of them not particularly cheap), but that's okay. If you’re so worried about making a mistake, you’ll probably end up sitting there, blinking at the headlights and doing nothing.
Does doing nothing bring you any closer to your goal? I’m willing to bet that’s a firm NO. Unless your goal is to be a lady of leisure, that is.
You’re going to make mistakes along the way – there’s no question about it. The only true mistake is if you don’t learn from your mistakes.
2. Prepare to pivot
The business I run now looks completely different to the business I set out to run when I first fled corporate life.
My first pivot was out of a broken business model. For those of you who don’t know, I used to run a health food subscription box. We were sending boxes out monthly at an incredibly low margin – which meant that we weren’t making a heck of a lot of money.
I had two choices: pivot business model, or keep bleeding cash until we ran out. Pivoting was the less scary of the two, so I picked that.
My second pivot came when I realised that the business I had built wasn’t making me happy. A huge reason why I quit corporate life was for the freedom to travel – yet here I was, chained to a business that needed me in Australia to pack and ship orders.
3. Don’t spend your money as soon as you get it
To be totally honest, I still haven’t learnt this lesson. But, in the hope that maybe you're a bit more sensible than I am, here goes.
There will always be some big, unexpected expense the minute your bank account hits rock bottom. Something will need urgent fixing, the tax man will come knocking or someone will ask for a refund. Try to at least leave a little cushion in there for this inevitable rainy day… Even if the cushion is thin, lumpy and falling to pieces.
And, speaking of cushions…
4. Cushion your budget
(Side note: I think that was my smoothest segue ever).
You know how you budgeted, like, $10 for overheads back when you wrote your first business plan? Maybe it’s time to give your budget a reality check and a little bit of padding (of the big, fluffy European cushion variety).
Things will almost always cost more than you expect, so prepare accordingly.
5. Don’t chase the bright shiny object
This is a bit of a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I’m forever chasing the bright, shiny objects. I truly struggle to focus on one thing, so it’s a work in progress.
Try to stop yourself from blindly chasing after the latest, exciting marketing tactic. You’ll likely just end up wasting time and wind up further away from your overall goal or vision. If you really do want to chase the bright, shiny object, try to think about how you can incorporate it into your strategy instead.
6. Do the work
I’m lucky that I can work from anywhere, and I choose to make the most of that by being a digital nomad. From the outside, it probably looks like my life is one big holiday – Auckland one week, London the next, Italy the next. But, let me tell you, I work bloody hard.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have a lifestyle business, where you work a few days a week and enjoy more time with your family or doing other things you love. It just means you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. It’s going to take a lot longer to build your empire on a 2-day working week than on a 7-day one.
(Sidenote: I’m totally not endorsing 7-day work weeks. You’re no good to anyone when you’re burnt out, bawling your eyes out on the couch, watching Bridget Jones with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s).
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help (or hire, or outsource)
I’m the ultimate control freak, so I get it. You want to retain control over everything in your business, because nobody else will ever meet your impossibly high standards.
But, there will come a day (likely following a series of 7-day work weeks and a Bridget Jones meltdown) when you realise that you can’t do it all yourself. Start by delegating something small, and you’ll be amazed at how great it feels.
8. There is always going to be more work to do, so take that damn holiday
Sorry to break your heart, but your to-do list is never ever going to be done.
There will always be emails that need responding, clients that need winning and content that needs writing. Delegate what you can, make peace with the fact that you cannot do everything and just book that cruise you’ve been drooling over for the last 3 years.
I’ve actually learnt a tad more than 8 things in my first 2 years of business (like how much coffee I can drink before I stop functioning as a human), but these are the most important. I can’t wait to see what I learn this year – because, after all, you don’t know what you don’t know!