Five years ago, the company I worked for (and may never have left) was swallowed by our ‘sister’ company and they closed our location for good. No more than 2 weeks later I had conversations with a small business owner that was in need of my help and shortly after, my business launched. Over the last five years, my adventure in entrepreneurship has been nothing but interesting, and lesson by lesson I’ve carried the torch of determination.
In reviewing my first five years in business, here are the top five lessons I’ve learned…
1. Be consistent.
Consistency is the cornerstone of any business – truly. Partner and consumer trust, pricing and inventory, your reputation and your company’s brand recognition depend on it.
Consistency means showing up, offering services and product people can count on, being the regular (even expert) voice of your industry, standing out above the crowd with unique brand expression, language and loyalty to your community – the ones who helped make you successful.
Business ownership is not for the faint of heart, I know, but steadfast passion, vision and voice is the key to success. While it may be inventory, revenue, employment, clientele and more that rise and fall, the thing that should always stay the same? Your dedication. As well as your encouragement of your clients, team and vision.
When it boils down, your ability to remain constant and unwavering in your belief and in knowing who you are is what will leave a mark on the world. That, and the sheer will power you have to remain true to who you are, what you do and who you serve.
So, keep on carrying the ever-flame torch.
2. Be patient.
Lord knows there are reasons your lid might as well just steam off. As entrepreneurs, our planning ahead is only as good as our ability to keep the plan in play. Did you know, patience is a virtue? Well, I know it’s true… and every day I work toward it.
Patience is not only a virtue, it is required in business ownership. If you ever feel your ability to lead, respond or even get out of bed in the morning is uncertain, either decide to abandon ship or batten down the hatches. Either way, you’re in control of your business’ destiny and either way, you’re in for a bumpy ride that’s sure to lead you down a path of unknowing – where patience is just a way of life.
Between lessons learned during the startup phase, lessons being learned as you approach a new birthday, or lessons promised as you hire or grow, patience in learning, understanding and growing as a business owner will keep you expectant, ready and willing for great things that are ahead.
3. Be persistent.
here is nothing as exciting as pursuing a dream and seeing it become a reality. But when all else fails, your outlook might be all you really have. So, be persistent. Keep your vision in front of you, ask for help, insight and advice and keep your eyes on the goal. Persistency isn’t always easy, but it’s the successful man’s golden ticket and it’s never considered a bad trait.
Many men have won the attention of a decision maker, investor, team member, associate or prospect through persistence. Likewise, many dreams have been won.
4. Be integral.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Fake it until you make it.” Well, no man was ever a vital commodity while acting as a copy cat. (ok, maybe in the movies, but not here in small business USA)
Both you and your very business idea should be authentic AND an essential part of daily life. If you plan to grow your business to carry on without you, your vision should be an idea others grab ahold of. If you plan to make your name the cornerstone and you want to remain a part of the ongoing future business journey then carry the sword, great soldier! But be committed.
In the same right, develop your process and create a need for the whole sum of your parts. If you are essential to the economy, industry or community, you have intrinsic value wherever you go.
5. Be thankful. Be happy.
There is nothing more enjoyable than meeting a business owner that is well-versed in their field and yet not jaded. If life is what you make of it, why not take each lesson in stride, keep your chin up and just be real? We’re all human after all. You can’t take riches with you and we really can’t know the future, so why not live thankfully in the moment?
Thankfulness means joy. Being happy in every outcome and resting comfortably in the profound belief that everything happens for a reason. Many veteran business owners will tell me, after years of ‘just taking any job’, they pick and choose what clients they want to work with. I hear thankfulness in their words – they get the chance to pick and choose. They have learned to be happy through decision.
It’s each of our own decisions to live happily, joyfully and freely. The opportunity to know others who share this planet with us is what it’s all about. Relationships are worth being thankful for.
What lessons have you learned during your time in business? I’d love to hear about it sometime.