Three BIG Lessons I've Learned after being in Business for 2 Years
Whoa. The years seem to fly by. Remember when you were a kid and the idea of an entire year seemed like forever? We always wanted time to move faster so we could get to our next birthday, be one year older or fast forward to Summer!
Two years ago this June I opened my first brick and mortar store front, graced. Time has flown by and now at the two year mark I am reflecting on some of the important lessons I've learned so far.
LESSON 1 - YOU CAN DO ANYTHING BUT YOU CAN'T DO EVERYTHING
When we opened graced I was excited, I was ready to be involved in every community event that was going on, I was happily committing to every project, to every request for donations and every advertising opportunity. I think in the beginning it was good to be really involved, to make connections, to try all sorts of advertising tactics. It was kind-of like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what would stick.
The problem with all of these "opportunities" is that I was running myself ragged and I was spending lots and lots of money. I was "showing" up everywhere at the cost of my sanity and giving up all of my free time or down time to spend with my family. My work/life balance basically sucked.
Didn't I open this business so I would have more freedom? So I could have more control over my schedule? This is when I learned my first tough lesson, just because I can, doesn't mean I SHOULD and I just can't do everything. Over time I started learning how to say no or politely decline to be involved in everything. I've learned the art of the "polite no" and I'm slowly getting better at actually using this response. I still have work to do but I feel like I am finally becoming more choosy about what opportunities I take and which ones I decline.
LESSON 2 - NO ONE LOVES YOUR BUSINESS AS MUCH AS YOU
This one is a hard truth. Sounds harsh but honestly it's an important lesson. Over the past two years I have hired and seen as many people go from my business. Most people join the team with lots of enthusiasm and are ready to help and contribute to the business with smiles and lots of energy.
All of my team members have been amazing but over time people have other opportunities come up, want to try other things and decide to move on. I'm always happy for my team members when they have a growth opportunity and I have learned from many years of experience as a manager that it's the right thing to do to allow people to move on and follow new dreams.
While the members of your team may be enthusiastic and make huge contributions they truly can never love and commit to the business the way you can. There are two things that they can keeps them from never being completely committed - they don't have financial skin in the game and it's not their dream.
Opening graced was my dream and my commitment. I have to continue to bring that love of the dream and vision to keep moving the business forward. You are the dreamer, you are the visionary. And this is completely ok! You have to accept that you are the leader, that you need to keep your chin up when times are tough. You set the stage for how others deal with difficult situations and how you press onward.
LESSON 3 - YOU HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE + WILLING TO CHANGE
Running a business is full of surprises and twists and turns. Problems arise that you could never anticipate. Like life, business has it's ups and downs, successes and failures. I've learned over the past two years to never consider something a failure but rather a learning experience.
If something isn't working you just have to switch things up and try something different. Sometimes it's a small change, sometimes it's a big change. You have to be someone who is not only "ok" with change but someone who embraces it.
In the past few years I've had moments, "ah-ha" moments when I was stopped cold in my tracks and decided that something had to change. When I would get the feeling as if something just wasn't right, that it was a task, service or problem that I really didn't want as part of my business or if I realized that something in my left just wasn't bringing me joy or contributing to my happiness....it had to change.
Sometimes change actually means letting things go. Now, "letting go" does not equate to "failure". If you never take chances how would you ever know what would be a big success and what would fall short of your expectations. To be a business owner means you are willing to take on some risk.
Even though some of these lessons sometimes feel like they were "hard learned" I honestly am glad I went through the process. I have learned so much in the past several year, I've learned new skills and walked outside of my comfort zone. I hope you feel encouraged to take your own risks, big or small because remember there is no such thing as failures, just lessons learned.
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