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Starting / Business startup

52 things I learnt in my first year of business

Don’t trade time for money. Veronica McDermott shares the good, the bad and the ugly from her first year of business.

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Starting a business is much like giving birth to a baby. Really f*cking hard. But equally exhilarating. No one really knows what the heck they’re doing or what to expect. Sure, you can prepare yourself by reading books, attending training, and asking for advice from wiser warriors who have endured the birth of a business before. But nothing really prepares you for what lies ahead, like actually living it!

Anyone who’s ever had a business will know that you learn fast. You have to. And it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come while you’re elbow deep in sh*t. So, at the beginning of this new year, I’ve taken time out to reflect on what I’ve learnt as a new business mummy and how grateful I am for the people who have made this ‘business parenting’ gig possible.

So many amazing mentors and friends have shaped me into the mother, copywriter, coach and business woman I am today.

If you see your pearls of wisdom on this list, know that you have given me an incredible gift and I will be forever thankful to you.

"You need a niche. The gurus are right."

So here’s 52 lessons I’ve learnt in my first year of business:

  1. Display your office hours, even if you work from home.
  2. There’s a difference between a web designer and a web developer. Assuming one can do the work of the other will cost you THOUSANDS in fixing your website.
  3. Good graphic designers are worth their weight in gold.
  4. Never underestimate the power of the words, ‘Thank you’.
  5. It’s ok to reject clients, or fire them.
  6. You need a niche. The gurus are right. So get down off your ‘I’m-on-a mission-to-save-every-single person-who-enters-my-life- high-horse’ and just serve those people who make your heart full.
  7. You don’t need to sign up for every freebie that appears on your Facebook feed.
  8. When you do anyway and you find your inbox is so overwhelming you can’t bear to open it, use unroll.me.
  9. As soon as you’ve created and tested your process, automate it. Choose one CRM and stick with it.
  10. Write canned email responses to save time answering enquiries.
  11. Make friends with your competitors aka colleagues. They will be your greatest allies.
  12. Deliver more than your client expects from you.
  13. Never discount your services. Add value instead. Sales precondition your prospects to devalue you and expect ‘more for less’.
  14. There’s no such thing as ‘mates rates’. It’s full price or free. You don’t go to dinner with a friend and give them 20 percent off their meal.
  15. Your question is probably stupid. Ask it anyway.
  16. Messenger is an abyss that should not be avoided for work purposes.
  17. Cease the day. Thanks Mum. You’ll be surprised how much can be achieved before your work day officially begins, especially if you have kids.
  18. Drink water. But don’t leave an open glass near your laptop when your 3-year old is around. Learnt that one the hard way!
  19. Embrace the Pomodoro Technique. I wish I’d found that sooner. How many more clients could I have helped?
  20. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you, both online and in the real world.
  21. Never enter someone’s inbox uninvited.
  22. Practice gratitude. Every. Single. Day.
  23. Own your errors.
  24. Grow your team BEFORE you’re ready. Outsource to experts so you can focus on your zone of genius.
  25. Commitment to creating amazing content will build relationships and build your community. Share stories often.
  26. Dance in the lounge room with your daughter when she asks you to.
  27. As a working mother, there will be times when you put your client’s needs before your kids. You’ll feel shit. Start the next day with your priorities in place.
  28. Go to networking events, even if it is hard to coordinate.
  29. Give your current clients a referral offer.
  30. Add ‘seeking feedback’ from clients into your process.
  31. Adults are still incentivised by prizes.
  32. Don’t trade time for money.
  33. Teach what you know. But validate your ideas before your sell them.
  34. Work with a legal professional who can support you as your business evolves.
  35. Make money before you spend it.
  36. 7-figure brands are not built using free tools.
  37. Chatbots change everything! Hello PayPal chimes in your sleep!
  38. Having a personal brand allows you to be flexible with your direction.
  39. Leave the house to work outdoors, in coffee shops, in co-working spaces as often as you can.
  40. Exercise. Even when you’re too busy.
  41. Don’t respond to enquiries or deliver work outside of office hours. It conditions clients to expect you to always be available.
  42. Have a scheduler so others can book a time into your calendar, not the other way around.
  43. You’re not selling, you’re serving.
  44. Technology doesn’t replace relationships. It supports them.
  45. Have a bookkeeper. Request payment in advance so neither of you have to chase clients up for outstanding bills.
  46. Hire a business coach, even if you can’t afford one.
  47. Take courses. Attend workshops. Join a mastermind. Then stop. And implement.
  48. Leave your laptop at home when you holiday.
  49. Comparison-itis is real. Don’t do it.  There’s no such thing as competitors. No one does what you do your way. Period.
  50. Get up, get dressed and get on video.
  51. If you want to make a million bucks, you need to look a million bucks.
  52. Changing the world starts with changing one person’s world.

I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list. What’s something you learnt in your first year of business that still stays with you today? Let me know in the comments!

Veronica McDermott

is Copywriter and Content Coach, based in Brisbane, Australia. She helps high-performing Coaches communicate increase their impact and income by writing content that CONNECTS, builds COMMUNITY and CONVERTS. Connect with her on Facebook.

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