When I went on vacation a few weeks ago, my husband Jon snapped this very unflattering photo of me. And as you can see, on vacation, I was working. I have a landline in one hand (do you remember those or even know what one is?) as I am talking to someone about designing several closets, I have my cell phone in another texting with my project manager who is on-site at a client project and I have my computer in front of me answering urgent emails. I was also lovingly given my daughter’s shoes to use to sit outside while I enjoy the weather and Poppy planted herself at my feet; I think she knew I needed company.
So, why am I telling you all of this? It is because I think as business owners there are preconceived ideas about what vacation is supposed to be like or as clients, we think that just because a business owner is on vacation that they aren’t working. I mean, maybe you are looking at me thinking, why are you even taking calls on vacation when you should be relaxing? Or maybe you think I am a workaholic?
For me, this family vacation and photo made me realize a few things and I want to share them with you. I have been taking so many coaching calls these last few months – whether it is due to needing to pivot a business because of COVID, wanting to start a business after a job change or anything in between – and I knew it was time to spill the beans here to pass along 5 Things I Have Learned in Business.
Now, I could truly write a book about learning things as a business owner but I picked my top 5. After you take a peak, let me know if you have any others to add. Do you agree with some of my top 5? And for those of you reading who don’t own a business but just were curious what I have learned these past several years, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Five Tips for Business Owners
1. Hard work is a true key to success.
I know that I am not the smartest, most innovative or creative person who has ever started a business but I do know that I am one of the hardest workers there is. Owning a business and creating an organizing firm wasn’t something that came easy to me by any means but I know that a key to my success has been my work ethic.
Hard work to me doesn’t mean that I am up every night until midnight or up early with the sun but it means that I make the most out of the hours that I dedicate to working in and on my business. As a business owner that means if I want to have time off during the week to attend my daughter’s swim practice, I can but then I might work part of the weekend to make it happen. When I am writing articles on organizing tips for publications, I go above and beyond what I know they need so they know they can come back to me as a source of expertise later because they know what I produce is beyond expectations.
Hard work comes in many different forms and it allows me to prioritize what matters most to me. Know that working hard isn’t just when things are going well. There have, of course, been issues that I have had to work hard to get past with my business and work though but I don’t give up. And because I work hard, I can also play hard…ok, I am not really a play hard kind of girl but you all know what I mean!
2. Always be learning and challenging yourself.
Yes, I am in my 40’s but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn about Reel’s on Instagram, right? I mean, do you even know what I am talking about? I have felt so old lately! And while I had to ask my daughters for help with making the few that I have made so far (you can find them here), I am learning and trying to figure things out, which is what truly counts.
I have learned that unless you continue to learn and challenge yourself, you will be left behind. So, each year I allocate part of my yearly budget for learning, taking classes, attending conferences and more. I want to make sure I am prioritizing challenging myself and not just a business owner but as a woman who wants to better herself. When I challenge myself, my business, clients and all those who I come in contact with, only benefit.
While it feels very uncomfortable at times to be learning something new that you aren’t a master at and might never be, I am a big believer in just trying. Success truly comes to those who can constantly pivot, reinvent themselves and learn.
3. Create a support system.
Many business owners start out on their own when they create their businesses and I can’t tell you just how valuable it is to create a community. When I started out, I had reached out to other local organizers in the industry and no one would talk to me! I felt a sense of competition versus community and it was a hard pill to swallow, especially early on in my organizing career.
So over time, I started to connect with other women owned businesses. I joined other small business communities, I went to conferences, I was part of networking groups and masterminds. I did anything I could to connect with like-minded people.
And after years of connecting with others and building my own support network, I decided I wanted to give back and create my own community, the community I didn’t have when I first started. So, created a Facebook group (here) where to connect organizers, as well as those wanting to create organizing business, with each other. I also offer coaching for other organizers to help spread my knowledge about the industry and helping others grow their businesses. I am a true believer that in the end, there is enough business to go around. And creating a system of support vs. one of competition will benefit everyone in the end.
4. You never know the path your business will take. Be open to all opportunities.
My business didn’t start off the way it looks now and while that isn’t rocket science, I want to encourage you to be open to different opportunities. My business is similar to others where it hasn’t been a straight line to where it is now. While a lot of the changes in my business’ path are due to personal changes in my life (I was married, had twins, divorced, a single mom and married again!), my personal life hasn’t been the only factor in my business’ lifespan.
I have been in countless situations where as a business owner I have been asked to do what some people would say is “outside my wheelhouse” or not something an organizer would normally do, is contracted to do or what would on the outside look like a project I shouldn’t take on. However, over the course of my business, I have seen that you should never turn down an opportunity that looks like a bad or different on the outside.
Some of my most memorable projects, clients and experiences that have helped my business grow and me as a person have been opportunities that didn’t look similar to ones that I have taken on in the past.
5. Nothing is more important than your health
I ignored many health issues for a long time because I wanted to just keep my business going and because a lot of people depend on me like my own family, my clients, my team, my vendors and more. However, I learned the hard way that nothing is more important than your health. And while I know that it true deep down, when it comes to myself, it has always been hard to prioritize health over my business.
After I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s months later (more about that here), I realized just how important it was to take care of myself first and then my business. And yes, I was one of those people who thought I could do it all but without your health, you don’t have much and my health was in turn impacting my business.
So, I have now prioritized both my mental and physical health and my business works around that. And while I can’t tell you I am the best at doing this it has become my mission to do so. Old habits take long to break but I can’t encourage you enough to make you the priority. By putting your own health first, your business can only grow and be successful.