The 8 Biggest Lessons I Learned from My Business in 2018
This year, I had some remarkable successes in my business. From working with so many incredible women to letting go of my fears and going live on social media, and the first time I finally made my first $10K month!
But with the biggest wins, also comes with the biggest “losses” too. However, these “losses” taught me valuables lessons that shaped my business and who I am today.
And today, I want to take a moment to look back and share with you the lessons I learned as an entrepreneur.
Lesson 1 | Listen to your intuition
This is one of the most valuable lessons I learned. Most of the clients I have worked with were incredible, some of which even blossomed into friendships, but some, unfortunately, was just not a good fit for me.
There have been a couple of times when my intuition would tell me that this client is not the one and even though red flags were already laid out so crystal clear, I disregarded my feelings and accepted the project anyway. Although I am talking about the minority, it had left me so frustrated and mentally drained.
Please don’t get me wrong as this is not a self-pity story. As a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with them. I landed myself in this sticky situation because of the decision I made at the beginning. And through this huge lesson learned, I want to remind you (and myself) that ultimately, at the end of the day, it is just money.
Here is the thing, money can always be earned but never, I repeat, never trade your inner happiness for money. And most importantly, protect and respect your time because no one else will do that for you if you don’t.
Key Takeaway: Cancel out all the noise in your surroundings. Listen to your intuition and trust your gut. Not every project inquiry that comes your way will be a good fit, not every client will be the right one for you, and it is completely okay.
Lesson 2 | Price your offerings with confidence
A rather sensitive topic most online business owners are struggling with.
But hey, I’ve had my fair share of struggles too. And so, I want to share this story of mine with you and how I overcame it. Last month, a potential client reached out to me and it was the biggest project inquiry I have ever received to date. I evaluated the amount of work I have to put in and the total investment was calculated close to $10,000.
And, I hesitated because of the limiting beliefs I had.
Using my experience as a case study, here was exactly what I did to overcome my limiting beliefs. I first ask myself why am I feeling this way and then simply answer my question in all honesty like so. Think of it like a reframe mental exercise.
Limiting Belief #1: “Woah. This investment seems way too high”
Question: “Is this based on my own insecurities or based on the quality of work?”
Answer: “Based on my insecurities. I know I have the skills, knowledge, and experience to produce quality work that my client is looking for.”
Limiting Belief #2: “My business has only been around for less than 2 years
Question: “Do the numbers of experience I have in my business have anything to do what the quality of work I know I am capable to deliver?”
Answer: “Whilst the number of experiences in my work does play a part in my pricing to a certain degree but not when it comes to the duration I have been running my business for.”
See what I did there? I basically circled back to my own limiting beliefs and simply answered them. Often times, it has nothing to do with your skills or experiences but more so of your self-doubts and insecurities that you embedded into yourself.
Key Takeaway: Each to its own, your limiting beliefs may be different than mine. But the trick here is, whatever your limiting beliefs are, ask yourself back with a question. Why do you feel this way? What caused you to have this limiting belief? And answer your questions in all honesty. The key is here is to be completely honest with yourself.
Lesson 3 | Build your business around the lifestyle you want
Have you ever had those days when you just feel uncreative, unmotivated, and uninspired? Well, I certainly had. I grew up in a city that is so ridiculously fast-paced and what got me wired into my head for the longest time was, if I take a moment to rest while others are working, I immediately lose.
And so, I keep going. I keep pushing myself even though my mind and body is telling me to take a break (and just rest). Sometimes I laugh (and cringe) when people ask me, “Sera, how do you remain so calm, stay on top of things, and juggle all of them so well?”
My default answer? “Ha. I got used to it.” What I used to do was just downright unhealthy. How I’m handling this situation now is instead of pushing through the day when I’m simply not feeling my best, I allow myself to take a break without letting guilt to fall upon me.
Whether that might be an hour or half a day, I just simply acknowledge the fact that today is not the day. Of course, this would greatly depend on the priorities and non-negotiables you have in your business like client work. But once those tasks are done, take the time for as long as you need to recharge on days when you’re just not feeling your best.
Key Takeaway: On days when you just simply feel unmotivated or uninspired, resist the urge to keep charging through the day and learn to let go of the guilt. Instead, take a breather, even if it is just for 15 minutes so you can come back with a clear mind.
Lesson 4 | Delegate (or eliminate) your business tasks
So much of what we do as a business owner, especially starting out, is done on our own. But the real mark of growth and sustainability is knowing when and what to delegate.
I used to think I was capable of handling everything on my own. But after reading The 4-Hour Work Week, I realized I cannot do everything on my own and most importantly, do them well all at the same time. One of the many things I learned from Timothy Ferriss was to focus on tasks that 1) only I can do, 2) do them well, and 3) love doing the most. And that is it! The rest could either be delegated or eliminated.
So how do you know when is the time to start delegating? My answer to this is the moment your business starts making money. I understand this is no easy task, especially when you are just starting out. After all, this business that you own is your fruit of labor. I get it. But In order to grow your business, you have to learn how to let go of certain business tasks.
Key Takeaway: Take the time to evaluate all of the business tasks you are currently doing. Then, circle out the ones you think could either be delegated or completely eliminated from your business to-dos. The objective of delegating or eliminating is so you can utilize your time on what you love and do best. And of course, to drive your business forward to the next level.
Lesson 5 | Keep track of your finances
If there is one business task that I keep pushing off, again and again, bookkeeping is the one. Money is great! But managing? Not so much. It is just not one of those tasks where I look forward to and say, “Oh yes! I’m so looking forward to updating my business expense and income.”
This struggle can be real to most creatives, including myself. I have been thinking about delegating this one for the longest time but at this point in time, I prefer to manage it on my own. So I know I have to find a solution to get this task done by hook or by crook. What that looks like for me is every Monday morning, I would set aside 30 minutes or so of my time to update all of my business expenses and income into my Wave account.
By batch tasking this on a weekly basis, not only it has helped me to keep my business finance in check, but also to have it sorted at the beginning of each week means I can then spend the rest of the week working on the business tasks that I really enjoy doing.
Another tip I would like to give to you is creating a separate business and personal bank account if you haven’t already done so. After implementing this at the beginning of this year, it literally changed my life. Not only I know what money is coming in and going out of my business account, but I can also give myself a monthly payroll to my personal account.
Key Takeaway: If you are anything like me who dread updating numbers, either outsource a bookkeeper or allocate a day and time on a weekly basis to keep your business finance in check. At the end of the day, when you are running your own business, it still very much important to know where you are standing with your business finance, whether you like it or not.
Lesson 6 | Stay hungry, always
In order to grow whether as a business owner or as a person, one must always keep learning. Learning comes in many different forms such as reading a self-help book or watching an inspirational video on YouTube or listening to podcasts.
One of the many things I learned from my business mentor (more on this in Lesson 7) is, learn more to earn more. To put it simply, in order to stand out and become known for in your industry is never stop learning.
Key Takeaway: Spend at least 30 minutes each day to learn new things. Educate yourself consistently and implement what you have learnt by putting your creative spin on it.
Lesson 7 | Invest in your business
To take it one step further from Lesson 6, I found myself investing more in online courses this year. And just recently? I decided to bite the bullet and heavily invested in a business mentor. Oh and trust me, it was absolutely terrifying. Way too many feels, way too many mixed emotions. But funnily enough, I heaved a sigh of relief after hitting that ‘Send Payment’ button via PayPal.
Sometimes, you just have to do it and breakthrough all the limiting beliefs running through in your head. At this stage, I am still very hands on with my business. Which means when I’m working on and in my business for too long, sometimes, I may not see things from a different perspective that could potentially hold me back from growing my business to the next level.
Key Takeaway: Invest in your business if you want others to invest in yours. Investment either involves time and/or money and by no means, I’m saying you have to invest 5-figure in a business mentor as I did, but think are there any small ways you can invest in your business to help you further grow your business?
Lesson 8 | Celebrate small wins along the way
The one MOST important thing you need to achieve your goal is to celebrate your wins along the way, regardless of big or small.
Before I learned about the importance of celebrating small wins along the way, I always brush it off whenever I have achieved something great. I simply acknowledge and quickly move on to the next.
I remembered one of my clients telling me, “Sera, I don’t know if I am not the right track. I have been working on this for so long now and I feel like there is no progress.” Sometimes, we give up no realizing how close we are to success and forget how much we have already accomplished.
Key Takeaway: Take a moment to look back and see how far you have already progressed. Acknowledge and write down all of your achievements. Celebrate your wins, regardless big or small. Remember, a little goes a long way.
And there you have it, here are my top 8 biggest lessons I learned from my business in 2018.
Out of curiosity, which of my lessons resonated with you the most? Leave them in the comments below!