Sometimes it feels like I’ve been doing this whole online business thing for a long time. Other times it seems like just yesterday I took the leap from my day job. One thing is for certain: my first quarter of full-time business has been a wild ride.
I recently shared my full career story and as a natural follow up, I wanted to highlight and commemorate the biggest things I’ve learned in this past season.
Your business cannot be your identity
Can I get an amen? This has been my milestone moment because work has always been my top priority. I enjoy working on personal and professional projects, but I’m no stranger to letting my work define me which isn’t healthy. When work is your highest priority, it can become your only topic of conversation and make you feel one-dimensional.
Work is important but it can’t be king. Your work is enriched by leaning into your family and friends, no-pressure passion projects, self-care, and other experiences that bring you joy. This can help us release the expectations we put on ourselves and be more productive (no, really!)
It’s important to know when to say ‘no’
This is a lesson I’m still learning. The more your business develops, the more opportunities come your way. While every opportunity can feel like it could be your “next big thing”, it rarely happens this way. I have people-pleasing tendencies so saying no can be especially hard for me.
To ease myself into a no, I like to treat some as maybe’s. An example of this is when I mindfully set a boundary like only making myself available for business interviews on a certain day or in a certain block of time so if the proposed feature doesn’t fit in with my creative process, then it can’t become a priority over what I’ve already planned.
If you dedicate the time, you can learn just about any skill
While I run a business, I am not quick to say I’m “business-minded.” I’m great with the creative and marketing side of business as well as the strategy and implementation, but anything financial or legal makes me either roll my eyes or want to run for the hills.
Over the past quarter, I’m happy to say I’ve gotten better with creating business systems for onboarding clients and keeping track of my profits and expenses. Although I doubt this sector of business will ever be my area of expertise, it’s nice to know that with time and dedication, I can learn to do it on my own with minimal hair-pulling. That’s what being a boss is all about.
Be careful about who you welcome into your support system
I’m very passionate about welcoming every creative I come across to become a part of my community. While I open my arms as wide as possible with community building, I’ve learned to treat my personal support system a bit differently.
Your support system should consist of, you guessed it, the most supportive people in your life. They should know your love languages and be quick to give you encouragement. If you don’t intentionally build your support system, toxic relationships could seep in.
Toxic relationships are a breeding ground for doubt, comparison, competition, shame, and fear. These kind of relationships have no business being at the center of your life, much less in your intimate support system. Be conscious of the opinions you take the heart and those you should cast aside.
It’s okay to do business your own way
I talked about this extensively in this blog post but in short, you must protect yourself from what others do and expect of you and instead remind yourself of what motivates you to perform and succeed. The pulse of your work is different than your neighbor’s work. There are no “shoulds” in business. Business owners have come too far and taken too many leaps of faith to follow someone else’s formula. If you’re struggling with understanding what your unique motivations are, I have a journal prompt to help.
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