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What I Learned as an Entrepreneur in 2015

As an entrepreneur you’re always learning. Not all lessons are created equal – most are good to learn, but not all of them are fun to learn. Last year I worked hard, but not smart.

Although I was constantly busy and inundated with emails, calls and appointments, I just could not seem to scratch anything off my To-Do list. As frustrating as this is, I know I am not alone.

As business owners, we’re so busy trying to drive the bus straight that we think that if we stop for repairs we’ll never reach the destination – or worse – crash the bus.

 

So What Did I Learn?

 

1. To grow, you’ve gotta let go.

As a mom and CEO of a growing company, I have to captain two ships without running aground, and until recently this meant that I would literally handle every aspect of the business without being able to delegate for fear of everything unraveling.

This led to a whole lot of last minute, late-night grafting. Not ideal. I get it, your business is your baby, but consider handing over certain tasks or portfolios to someone who has the capacity.

We can’t be awesome at everything, and if we insist on handling tasks we’re not good at it (or don’t have time for), it can result in some messy mistakes.

For instance, if you are not a web designer, don’t insist on designing your own website. It’s not a good idea, just like it’s not a good idea to cut your own hair. There’s a reason people go to college for it.

Upskill someone on your team by sending them on a web design course, or outsource it. The small amount of money you’ll pay for either of those options will be well worth the gain you receive knowing that someone who knows what they are doing is handling it.

Outsource your HR, accounting, marketing, etc, to a reputable professional, or get the app. It will save you loads of time and head space, and give you room to be creative and focus on your core strengths, which is what your business needs.

Favourite apps we’re using are QuickEasy Software, Trello, Harvest and Slack.

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2. A little strategy goes a long way.  

Remember that bus I told you about? The one that almost crashed for lack of directions or repair? It happens so quickly.

I found that, as we grew bigger and busier, we got so good at doing the marketing for our clients that we forgot to do our own. Work gets so busy that having a status meeting seems like the most ridiculous idea in the world, until someone gasps “Isn’t Website X’s go-live today?!” Chaos. Swear words. Tears.

Plan legitimate, weekly status meetings which allow you to check up on project timelines and also strategise for the week ahead, ensuring you meet your deadlines and anticipate any shortfalls.

Strategy and vision meetings that are constructive and based on key KPIs will help you close gaps you may not have seen, help you focus on your own business in the way that you focus on your clients – essential to staying on track with your company vision and growing your enterprise.

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3. It’s ok to say NO.

Got a client you wish would just disappear?  Received yet another event invitation?  Yup, I’ve been there.

I was in a situation with a client that was not only stressing me out, but putting undue pressure on my staff, too. No matter how hard I tried to please the client or remedy the situation, they were never happy.

Eventually I realised that it was time to let them go. This is tricky when you need the income, but to be honest, I’ve never looked back – I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and my staff breathed a collective sigh of relief. And you know what? The next day a new client walked in to take their place.

Going to an event that you just don’t have time for is like buying a present that you didn’t really think about. A waste. It will only stress you out being there.

You can make it up to the person, or if it’s one of those networking schmoozing functions you feel obliged to attend, don’t lose any sleep over it – there will be another one.

If an event isn’t special or adding value to your business or personal life, opt to decline.

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There were many other lessons, and I’m sure that 2016 will bring more.

It’s not about perfection, it’s about value. Look at your business and assess what’s working and what isn’t. Cull the activities or strategies that are a dead-weight, and give yourself more room to move.

Did you learn a lesson in 2015 that changed the way you run your business? Feel free to let me know and comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s to a creative prosperous New Year!

-DK

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