Lessons from three years in business

As I sit at my kitchen table typing these words, I still can’t believe it’s been three years since I took the leap to start my own business; providing social media training and account management to other businesses.

And this is where it all began. On the 28th July 2015 I sat at my kitchen table, booted up my new laptop, typed ‘HMRC’ in to google and figured out how to register myself as self employed.

Fast forward three years and I’m in an office, paying rent, employing staff and achieving things I didn’t even dare to dream three years ago.

It’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions, feelings and achievements over the last three years and at times it’s felt like one step forward and two steps back, but Naturally Social continues to go from strength to strength.

I’ve pulled on every last inch of grit, focus and determination I have to get here and will continue to do so for years to come I’m sure. It’s also thanks to a few people I’ve met along the way (as well as a few of my nearest and dearest!) that I’ve found the tools, learnt the lessons and been given the support to keep pushing forward.

That’s mainly why I feel so strongly about sharing lessons, passing on advice and being a cheer leader for other business owners; because it’s tough. And confusing if it isn’t second nature!

So, I wanted to take this milestone as an opportunity to do just that and share five business lessons I’ve learnt over the last three years in the hopes it will help inspire and support others.

  1. Know your ‘Why’ and have a plan. Ask yourself what it is you want from the outset – and keep reviewing it. Why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve? Don’t skip this bit. Have a vision and dare to dream. If it’s to earn a good salary and pay the bills – amazing! If it’s to have a comfortable life style with plenty of time to enjoy a family life – lovely! If it’s to save the world and build a multi million pound business on the way – brilliant! But know what you want, because when you have days where you don’t know where you are or where you’re going – you’ll be able to pull yourself back on track. Not only that but it helps you to set goals and make plans that will outline your road to achieving what you want.
  2. Learn to sell. Whether you like it or not – now that you are self employed, you are a sales person. The quicker you acknowledge this and invest in the skills you need to sell the better. Trust me. Your business will not grow by chance or favours.
  3. Know your numbers. Seriously. How much do you charge, what’s your turnover, what’s the profit, expenditure, balance sheet.  Without knowing this you can’t plan to grow or develop. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I wrote everything down in my first year of business, before moving on to spreadsheets and then using a bookkeeper and an accounting software. Whatever works for you, just don’t run from it.
  4. Surround yourself with the right people. Employing or not – I can not tell you how important it is to find the right people. People who share your vision, people who can be honest with you, people you trust and people who will believe in you no matter what. Find people who will listen and identify your biggest cheer leaders. Invest in these relationships and trust your instincts. If people drain your positivity or don’t leave you feeling your best self – keep them at arms length and don’t apologise for it.
  5. Don’t undervalue yourself. There will be times when you have to do things for free, we’ve all done it. But don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of and equally – respect others. Every one needs to earn money in order to build their business and as lovely as skill swapping is  – be honest and strategic about it. Is it going to add value?

And remember: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

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