No one can tell me differently on this…
Running a business is the biggest lesson in personal development you can get.
The ups, downs, trials, errors and all of the things that come about on this journey are very real and will need you to consistently uplevel yourself in order to navigate it all.
I’ve been doing the same for the past seven years, and have learned A LOT in the process.
Which is why today is all about the top biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past seven years of business.
This includes what I wish others told me, mistakes I made in the process, what I had to take full ownership of and how being stubborn has bit me in the butt a few more times than I care to admit.
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Lesson 1: Don’t Hide Who You Are, Double Down On It.
When I first started my business in 2012, ignorance was bliss.
I had no idea what other people in my same industry were doing, and because of that, all I knew how to do was to be me and share what I had.
It didn’t matter what other people were doing because I wasn’t even aware of what was going on.
I was in my own lane, by default, and I created a sizable business in the first year just by doing that.
However, once I became aware of what other people were doing, I started to subconsciously convince myself, that I need to be like everyone else. If I wanted to grow my audience more or expand my income further, I was going to have to show people what I believed they wanted to see.
And I believed that they wanted to see someone like the other influencers in that space.
I conformed to what I was seeing and, in the process, wasn’t just left unfulfilled but attracting people I didn’t want to even work with.
Why? Because I was attracting THEIR people, not mine.
Once I started to realize where the disconnect happened and where I lost the happiness I had about my business, I started to see that I needed to double down on exactly who I am, and forget what everyone else was doing.
Am I the most polished person? Absolutely not.
Am I the most serious person? Nope.
But you know what? Trying to pretend to be that was exhausting because it wasn’t me.
People feel your energy and doing anything that isn’t natural for you, will show.
Lesson 2: Ride the Waves or You Will Drown in the Wipe Out
Marketing is constantly changing.
We are in a society where we are navigating the use of platforms that we don’t own, tools that we don’t own and consumer behavior that’s always evolving and growing.
This means that we need to as well.
And you better get used to it if you want to be here for the long run.
Putting your foot down and saying “I’m not changing anything. This always works for us so why would we do something different?” isn’t smart.
In fact, it will put you out of business.
As a business owner, you can’t afford to get emotionally attached to things that are not in your control.
If Facebook is changing up an algorithm, Instagram is removing a certain metric, or your email marketing isn’t performing as much as it used to a few years ago, then guess what?
We change it.
And then we change it again.
We continuously make changes that honor whatever the current climate is.
If you’re looking for everything to just stay the same and be insanely predictable, you’re selling yourself a false dream because it’s simply not reality.
Ride the waves and be okay with the fact that things are going to continuously change for you. It’s a good thing.
Lesson 3: I Am the Most Important Person in My Business
It took burnout for me to learn this one.
Burnout to the point where I physically could not work my business. Yes, my business had to make me sick in order for me to realize that I was important.
Above clients, above the day-to-day activities and above my own team…
I am the most important person.
And so are you.
If your health, your happiness and/or your mental stability is falling apart behind the scenes, so is your business. It’s simply a matter of time.
Trust me when I say that I realize that this is a hard truth.
However, it’s one that I needed someone to tell me at one point.
Along with that, the fact that I don’t need to say sorry about any of it.
All I need to do is own it and when I did, it not only changed the way I worked in my own business but created a ripple effect of people doing the same, which leaves us as not just happier business owners but spouses, friends, etc.
Lesson 4: Profitability is Greater than Popularity
This is especially for those who are consumed with the amount of followers, likes and messages they get.
Please take my word when I say that it’s NOT worth your energy.
I’ve been behind the scenes of enough businesses to see that what looks great on the outside, isn’t always the same on the inside.
Some were “popular” upfront, but barely breaking even financially. Others were “small” upfront, but crushing it financially due to the connections they’ve created by going deep with their community. And, of course, there are also ones that master both.
The more I kept seeing this, beyond just my own businesses, the more clear it became there is some serious backwards thinking that we have in our social media world that is fed to us every single day. And we need to break it.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how connected you are with your audience.
Do you want popularity? Profitability? Both?
Choose your flavor of choice and focus your actions on what align with that and you’ll win.
Lesson 5: If You Don’t Learn the Lesson the First Time, You Will Repeat It Until You Do.
I can be a bit stubborn at times.
This also means that I can pay the price for it.
Because of this, I’m always trying to be more aware of where my own shortcomings are, my own preconceived notions and biases are, and what can I do to work through them.
This also means that if I see something happening that is a clearly repetitive, it’s a sign for me to stop immediately and work on that area of my business or life because it’s repeating for a reason. Most likely, because whatever I did before didn’t actually solve it. It was probably a Band-Aid type of solution, which we can all be guilty of doing at times.
I share this as an invitation to take personal responsibility for every single thing that is happening in your business or life as well.
Everything that goes right is because of me.
Everything that goes wrong is because of me.
If it’s someone on the team, you hire them, if it’s a mentor, you hire them.
The great news is that this also means that anything can be changed by you too.
And that’s so powerful!
Lesson 6: What Others Are Doing is Irrelevant to Your Success
Have you been guilty of seeing what someone else in your industry is doing and saying, “Hmmmm maybe I should do that too?”
I sure have.
What does it lead to?
Shiny object syndrome and working way harder than you have to.
As soon as I started tuning out that noise and realizing that my audience will tell me exactly what they need and that if I stay in my lane and my expertise, then I already know how to serve them, everything becomes easier.
Once I broke the hold I had of being “in the know”, it allowed so much clarity to come in because I wasn’t being consumed with all of the different noise out there.
Lesson 7: Your Gut Knows What’s Up
This is probably my favorite one and one that I am continuously leaning into and loving because it means I’m following MY path.
WARNING: This doesn’t mean it comes without the peanut gallery.
“I don’t know if that’s going to work.”
“That sounds crazy.”
“Why would you do that?”
Those are just a few of the statements you’ll hear when you start trusting your gut.
However, when you learn to trust your gut, it makes it easy to tune that out because you know it’s the right step for you. You’re the only one it needs to make sense to.
The more I continue to do this, the more I find that I get better results.
The hardest part? I don’t know how to teach this, I can only feel it and trust it.
As a result, I’ve been able to grow my business in a way that feels good, work with amazing people, and continue to succeed in ways I never imagined were possible.
Bonus Lesson: Not Everyone Can Come With You
I’m not eight years into business yet BUT I can’t skip this one so we’ll consider it a bonus.
People evolve and friendships change. Being willing to let that happen, is incredibly important for your growth.
There are plenty of people who were starting business the same time I was and I loved spending time with. However, they are either no longer either in business or they’re still saying the same things they were saying seven years ago, and I can’t be around that.
This was a really hard lesson in my first few years of business because I could see so much potential in people and couldn’t understand why they didn’t see it.
However, it wasn’t my job to pull them.
Related: 3 People You Can’t Afford to Spend Time with As You Scale
While you may love these people, they simply are not aligned with the same kind of growth you’re aligned for.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to pull them along. It’s unfair to you both.
Did one of these lessons speak to you?
If so, I want to hear about it. Come on over to @freedomdrivensuccess on Instagram and let me know. I love hearing from you!