When I started my business 21 years ago, I made so many mistakes it would be embarrassing to count.
Here’s a list of just a few:
- Skimping on branding – Get to know who you are, what you do, and why it matters. Although my first business provided branding services I put little to no effort into our own. If I had to go back in time, I would have taken the same advice I gave our clients who grew to extraordinary realms and focused on clarity, collaboration, consistency, and call to action.
- Selling to everyone – When you sell to everyone, you sell to no one. Running your own business often feels like it’s feast or famine. Being in survivor mode, I sold our services to anyone and everyone. Even Johnson & Johnson doesn’t sell to everyone. Their cold medicine product Triaminic? They focus their marketing efforts on new moms of newborns. Focusing their sole efforts on the new mom, they’ll have a customer for life. My agency Citrus Studios now focuses our services on purpose-driven organizations that do good. Orange & Bergamot markets specifically to creative women entrepreneurs.
- Hiring too fast – Speed slows you down. As my agency got busier, I hired everyone and anyone. I didn’t do background checks. I hired family members, friends, and friends of friends, most with no skills that I needed. Steep learning curves and not establishing core values led to disastrous hires — toxic work environments, embezzlement, destruction of company property. . . you get the picture.
- Firing too slow – There’s a time and place for empathy. Entrepreneurs usually have an inkling when an employee has to go. I’m always reticent. I wonder: How do they pay their bills? How do they support their family? This is still difficult for me. But I realize, I’m the CEO first and a friend next.
- Spending too much $ – Mo money, mo problems. When I made money, I spent it either on myself or put it back in the business. I paid myself too little. Going through three recessions smartens you up fast. I now keep the eye on the horizon in both good times and bad. After coaching from my CFO, and other mentors, advisors/entrepreneurs, you also learn if you don’t pay yourself your numbers, profit and loss/balance sheets are completely off.
- Thinking too small – Our limitations are our own. In the first years of my business, I made about half a million dollars, an enormous amount so I thought since my previous job paid me $36K including benefits. After I saw a business owner making $800K in his first year of business, I was shocked. How did he do that? I now realize that we’re the creators of our own life create our own life.
- Not meditating – A mind is a terrible master but a wonderful servant. When I was in my 20s, I received a strong intuition, message to continue my yoga and meditation practice. I didn’t. As work got busier and life became more stressful, my practice was all but halted. Looking back, I wish I listened to that little wise whisper. It undoubtedly would have made a huge difference that would have had a ripple effect in the world. I’ve had a steady relentless practice of meditation for the past five years. It’s allowed me to observe my mind, my thoughts and given me the space to direct my life more consciously. I now go slow to go fast. If you don’t think you can quiet your mind. Think again. It’s never too late to start.
The last bit of wisdom I’d like to share which has helped me through the years to be productive is:
Don’t make the same mistake twice.
When a hard lesson hits me hard in the face, I reflect deeply and analyze thoroughly. I want to learn from new mistakes not repeat the old.
How about you? What lessons have you learned over the years? I’d love to hear from you!