In the 15 years I’ve been a business owner, a lot of my results have come from trial and error. Through every hurdle placed in my way to make me stumble, I shifted and learned to overcome.
It’s been so powerful to see all of my hard work culminate into the thriving business I have today. I’ve learned so damn much from this journey, and I want to revisit the 5 things I’d do differently if I had to start over or was brand new.
Most business owners like myself decide to jump into the entrepreneur space — even if they aren’t sure they can do it. I got my start in corporate, so when I jumped into this, I had zero experience running my own business. I was scared, and I’d bet that you are or have been too if you’re reading this.
So let’s dive into the 5 things I’d do differently if I had to start my successful six-figure business over from scratch:
Change 1: I wouldn’t have pushed so hard for myself.
Boundaries? What are those?! I definitely did not understand the importance of setting boundaries for myself when I first started my business. I feel like a lot of us are conditioned in the workplace or in our lives to give so much of ourselves until either we reach our breaking points or get burned out.
Personally, the lack of boundaries meant that I was TOO flexible with my working hours. I know I’m not alone when I admit to regularly working until four or five in the morning, sending emails late into the night, and being available when I didn’t need to be.
The most valuable piece of advice I’d tell myself and to those of you out there in the exact same situation is to set boundaries for yourself. Whether you are at the beginning of your entrepreneur journey or you’ve had a little time to get your feet wet, your business cannot be at its best if you are not at your best. Create the space and time for you to nurture your own needs. That way, you can feel more inspired to create when needed.
For most people, this might look like saying one word more often: “No.” This one-syllable word has so much power in it. If the person you have to say it to is you or your clients, just saying it can be the difference in improving how you feel about your business and your ticket out of burnout town.
Which brings me to…
Change 2: I wouldn’t have said “YES” to everybody.
“Desperation mode” is the most dangerous place for an overwhelmed entrepreneur to be. When you’re not prepared or if you feel alone or disconnected from a strong community or network, it’s often not much of a choice whether you’re a party-of-one in this mindset. This can be a really big deal for those shifting into the business owner space. Maybe you’ve just quit your 9-5 office job and now you need to make up for that loss of income.
I was in this same position and fell right into desperation mode. I started saying yes to working with everyone. Turns out, everyone isn’t who I align with. So I ended up working with clients that I didn’t have that great a connection with. Doing so left me feeling uninspired and wondering if this is really what I wanted to do. So, if I had to start over, I wouldn’t say yes to everyone.
If saying no feels uncomfortable, I challenge you to say it more often. Not only is it a great way to reinforce or explore your boundaries, but it’s also the best way to build up your voice as a business owner. Do it once a week, then say it more and more until it feels more natural. You’ve got this!
Change 3: I would have made sure to establish crystal clear standards
Red flags who? This might be a run-off of number two, but that should tell you how damn important it is! As I already mentioned, it’s really easy to just take on anyone that comes onto your radar. Since I was doing this in the early stages of my business, I didn’t notice the red flags that would have told me that this client doesn’t align with what I’m doing. And that red flag should tell you how obvious knowing your values or standards should be.
One simple way to explore your values, get to know your ideal clients, and strengthen your confidence as a business owner is to simplify your business. Having clear processes, workflows, and systems in your business allows you to structure your business in a way that makes it easier to manage.
Think about how you attract incoming leads. What language are you currently using that attracts the leads you’re not vibing well with? Examine your client onboarding process. Can you create a brief client welcome packet that lays out your availability, preferred contact methods, and other things that make your boundaries obvious to your clients? Get to know every part of your business, and reinforce it to be a space that supports you rather than works against you.
Either way, if you’re finding yourself saying yes to everyone, then you might need to sit down and get clear on who your ideal client is and who you want to work with right away.
Change 4: I would NOT be a unicorn
In the creative services space, you’ll sometimes hear people asking for unicorn VAs or rockstar social media managers. This basically means that there are clients looking for people who can do anything and everything under the sun. And, sure, maybe you can do everything they list out. But do you really want to do everything?
Burn out is a real thing to watch out for. You might think it’s no big deal…until you’re so unproductive and vulnerable that you cannot garner enough willpower to work even a little. Burn out can even be a gateway into a burning resentment you’ll feel about your business. I’ve seen so many business owners call it quits because of burn out, so don’t write it off!
The reality is that offering to do everything for a client is a really fast way to burn out. Back when I was new, I enjoyed doing maybe 15% of the tasks or jobs my clients delegated my way. So why was I killing myself doing things that didn’t fulfill me in some way? What I SHOULD have done was identify my niche and figure out exactly what services I wanted to offer.
So please, don’t be a unicorn. Specialize in something you LOVE doing or learning about. You’ll attract leads and clients who appreciate your expertise or knowledge — people who you’ll actually enjoy working with!
Change 5: I wouldn’t have been so resistant to support.
Lastly, I would have outsourced a lot sooner. To be honest, I didn’t hire my first coach until I was like 12 years into the business. Even worse, I didn’t get a team until 13 or 14 years into it. When I finally did, this was a huge game-changer for me. I saw higher months, I had more freedom, and I was able to focus more on what I loved to do, which was working closely with my clients.
The moment you begin to invest in yourself, you start to see what you are capable of doing skyrocket. Now, I’m not saying to drop $15k if it doesn’t work with your budget. You still want to be reasonable and responsible with your money. But, if you can find something that will help get you to blast off your business, that money will eventually pay itself off.
This is exactly why I got into the coaching space. I know the value of having a support system that not only guides you to finding those next steps, but also helps you implement them so that you’re not left to fend for yourself.
I may not have known these things when I first started out, but I am able to share them in this space and help others get clarity in their business faster. That’s why I created the De•Coaching program. This space is held for those who are finally ready to move mountains and create their dream, soul-led business. Inside, get ready to:
Create an unshakeable, sustainable strategy that feels aligned and authentic.
Lock in the clarity and confidence to get visible online again in a way that feels good.
Lay the foundations for creating a magnetic marketing and content plan.
Implement the strategic systems & growth tools that have helped my clients scale to $10k+ months.
Finally have space and ease in your business, so that you feel inspired to create again.
As I write this blog post, you can still join this round of the program. Don’t wait to learn these lessons 15 years later like I did. Join De•Coaching now!