Vital Business Mistakes That Became Valuable Lessons
I have been in business for a very long time. There are so many things I have done that were highly successful. However, there have been a number of mistakes that I wish I could go back and tell my newbie entrepreneur self not to make.
We don't grow and succeed without mistakes. They are an essential part of life and a vital part of our growth both personally and professionally. It is a blessing to not be perfect. There are so many benefits to mishaps, failures and mistakes that we get to take advantage of and leverage to help others. Here are just a few of mine:
Mistake #1: Not knowing when to cut bait.
There were certain things that I held onto in my business for far too long just hoping and praying they would work out. It was like I caught a big gigantic fish that I was never going to reel in, and it was pulling my boat under.
I kept thinking if I just try harder, or if I just try a different method, or if I get more money it would all turn around, and I could right the ship. Meanwhile, the ship was sinking at a Titanic pace, and my stuff was going overboard. I was going down with it.
There's a line and a Zac Brown song that says: “When you keep on losing with the path you're choosing, and it's time to let go…”
Know when it’s time to cut bait. I know when you have put a lot of time, money, energy, and emotion into something, it is so hard to let go, but if it is dragging you down, cut bait and move on.
Mistake #2: I didn’t scale or create continuity
I was always so consumed with serving clients and helping them grow and scale their respective businesses that I ignored my own.
Sure it's great to say that my hard work has allowed companies to generate millions of dollars in revenue. That is certainly a good selling point for my services. I thought if I did an exceptional job and gave it my all, I would have a good reputation, which would lead to referrals that would lead to new clients.
WRONG! I was only able to handle one or two clients at a time and because of that, if I lost even one client, I was literally screwed! Even though I was on a monthly retainer, I still didn't have any way of true business continuity.
Bottom line: Without continuity, you don't have a business.
By developing evergreen programs, online courses, a paid membership portal and other forms of recurring revenue, I am now developing business continuity.
If you are in a position where you are just handling one-off clients or projects, I highly recommend finding a way to have some continuity and a monthly recurring income in your business.
Not sure how to do an online course or paid membership portal? Check out Udemy. Its courses are super informative and rather inexpensive.
Mistake # 3: I didn’t hire or outsource
I was always the one woman band in my business. I wore all the hats. I was the CEO, CFO, CIO, tech support, Human Resources, Sales & Marketing, and account management. I was doing everything.
This not only stifled my business growth, it caused it to come to a screeching halt! Without the human resources to help me grow and scale my business, I was spending valuable time on tasks that I could have outsourced. I was putting time and effort into non-money making, energy-sucking projects.
I know it's not always easy to trust someone to handle mission critical business functions, but it is vitally important if you want your business to grow. Find people with strengths that complement your weaknesses and hire them!
Not ready to hire a full time staff? Hire a VA or a freelancer from sites such as Fivrr or GenM.
Mistake #4: I didn’t market or sell myself.
Like I mentioned above, I was always dependent upon referrals. Now, there was a time when that wasn’t an issue. I could pretty much sit back, and referrals kept coming in. However, a referral based business is a risky business. To keep getting referrals, you have to stay top of mind. I wasn’t sending out newsletters, reaching out to contacts or keeping in touch with former clients. I wasn’t active on social media, or blogging, or participating in groups and forums.
Because I was too busy satisfying my clients (ahem, and didn’t outsource) and making them happy.
And, quite frankly, I didn’t really know how. This where mentors, online course and taking advantage of the wealth of free information comes in.
I had also started my nonprofit animal rescue. People didn’t think I was even doing PR any more. They thought I had, well… gone to the dogs.
We live in a fast paced world. People are ultra-connected. Because I wasn’t staying in front of people with my PR business and maintaining a good cadence of communication, I essentially became irrelevant. I wasn’t evolving in my business and was getting looked over by past clients and contacts when people were looking for a referral for a good PR consultant.
This was almost the death of me, but a valuable lesson! Pivoting into coaching, creating online courses, building my audience, maintaining regular contact through automation and email nurtures, setting up sales funnels, blogging on various platforms, being my own publicist, being active on relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn... These are the things that are now putting me back in front of the people and their contacts who may need my services.
Mistake #5: I didn’t hire a mentor
As a somewhat rebellious solopreneur, I had a go-it-alone attitude. I was on an island all by myself. If I had a mentor, I probably wouldn’t have made the costly mistakes listed above, or at least they may not have been so detrimental.
Mentors help us see things we often cannot see, or simply refuse to. Movie maker George Lucas said: "Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It's the only way we grow."
Mentors create accountability. They help us establish boundaries and structure when we often cannot do that for ourselves. They give us a sounding board and the ability to bounce ideas off of them. A good mentor will motivate you and never let you settle or become complacent- something of which I am terribly guilty.
I now have a mentor without whom I wouldn’t have been able to recognize these mistakes, my faults and shortcomings, and get clarity on what was going so wrong and how I can make it right. It was definitely worth the investment.
I highly recommend that you consider hiring a mentor as well for the reasons mentioned above. You simply cannot grow your business without one.
While I no longer offer done-for-you PR services, I have found ways to grow and scale my business by leveraging my experience, knowledge, relationships, and gifts.
Mistakes are vital to building a successful business. You don't know how to win unless you lose. However, by turning my mess into my message, I now have the opportunity to help others learn from their mistakes or avoid them altogether.
Want to see how I can help you get unstuck and grow your business? Schedule a consult call, and let’s get the ball rollin’!