Business Productivity

5 lessons I’ve learnt from 10 years in small business

- October 17, 2019 3 MIN READ

Longevity in business requires being clear on why you’re in business, what problem you’re trying to solve, and consistency in the value you create.

I was recently talking to my beautician (stay with me guys) about running a small business and she mentioned that she’s been managing her own salon for 20 years without celebrating this milestone. It reminded me that I was coming up to my own 10 years in business and should I celebrate it?

For many of us, we get so caught up in the day-to-day of building a business that we don’t stop to celebrate our milestones and achievements.

I’m sure you know this feeling: when we are working really hard and so focused on the project, we often forget what we are achieving is incredible. We all do this, whether it’s training to run a marathon, buying a house or writing 50,000 words for our book.

I even did this when making plans with my husband about his long service leave. We had planned a big lap of Australia over three months. We were going to be remote and I was wondering how I was going to juggle it all while we were away. Then after a few months of negotiating I realised I had earned the break, this was a chance for me to celebrate my own ‘long service leave’, and to trust everything would be okay.

As people, we often have bigger goals for ourselves which take many months and even years or decades to achieve. Yet success is not a destination. It involves daily effort, hard work, grit and perseverance. 

I’ve since come to recognise that longevity in business is not only about being clear on why you’re in business, it also requires being consistent in your approach in terms of your communication, the services you deliver, the products you provide, your price and the value you create. 

Here are five lessons I’ve learned from 10 years in business:

1.Be clear on strategy

Roger Martin says strategy is for shaping the world, rather than accepting the consequences. With a strategy you get to shape your business. A strategy provides a roadmap for your future and inspires action. It also keeps you accountable. As you review your cashflow on a regular basis, so too you need to check-in on your strategy so it stays top of mind.

2. Find a mentor or join a business mastermind

Surrounding yourself with peers, mentors or a business mastermind can help you take your business to the next level through advice and problem solving. It also keeps you sane in the down times as talking to the walls doesn’t get you feedback. 

3. Scaling up isn’t for everyone

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your business small if that’s what you want. As long as you are clear about your purpose and what your customers want, you can keep creating value.

4. Keep an eye on your customers/clients

Shoes of Prey’s Michael Fox reminds us to ensure we truly understand the psychology of our customers/clients before trying to change their behaviour. So be a trusted advisor instead. Nurture relationships by regularly tapping into your customers/clients’ feedback and insights to make sure your business is continuing to offer them the right products and services. 

5. The art of pivoting

As the saying goes, the only constant is change. You can’t keep providing the same products and services you did 10 years ago as the market is moving too fast. Sometimes you will launch a new product or service and it doesn’t hit the mark. You will however learn some valuable lessons which can help you pivot into a new chapter of business. 

So, what milestones do you have coming up to celebrate? Next time you’re coming up to an important date, boost your success through celebrating these milestones. Acknowledge your achievements even if it’s as simple as meeting a client deadline, because they are all significant to your life and your work. And don’t forget to let everyone know about them too, so they can celebrate them with you. 

Gabrielle Martinovich is Director of Definitude Consulting. She works with businesses experiencing growth, change or complexity to define their strategy and connect with their people, partners and customers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.