This August I am beginning my 10th year of being in biz for myself. Wow! I can’t believe it. Time flies when you are having fun:)
When I put out my shingle way back in 1998 I was focusing exclusively on the communications side of my biz and operated under the biz name of: Chadnick Communications. In 2003, I expanded into the coaching world and started Big Cheese Coaching. I continued to operate both simulataneously as I’ve been growing my coaching biz more fully. Over the years, I’ve been redefining my role/mission in the workplace. It’s been quite the journey – and an amazing experience. I’ve learned a ton about building biz – and more importantly, a ton about myself.
Lots of change. Lots of learning. Exciting times. Scary times. Times of doubt and times of confidence. Was it worth it? You bet!
In the spirit of starting my 10th year, here are some reflections — lessons learned and things I’ve observed in my experience over the years. Note the emphasis in ‘my experience’ because different folks may have different perspective.
Here are mine:
1) When you are a solopreneur remember that you are the business. It’s imperative to take care of yourself. Your ‘whole self’ — not just the working widget side of you. Health, fitness, balance, outside pursuits — they add up to a fuller you which is good for you and good for biz. That said – be prepared to work hard!:)
2) People hire people. Your brand must be authentic and credible. As a solopreneur – you are the brand. I’ve been told over the years that I’m not a ‘shiny PR type’ — but rather am ‘real’. I always took that as a compliment. It has become even more important in my work as a coach — where it’s all about authenticity. Make sure you are clear on who you are – otherwise how can others truly get to know who you are…and who they are hiring?
3) Your worklife must reflect your values and your priorities. Make sure you know your values and priorities (part of knowing who you are) – so you can ensure your work life is aligned with who you are and what you are wanting. Values stay – but priorities can change. Is your worklife reflecting that?
4) If you build it – will they come? Big mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is thinking it’s enough simply to declare they are in biz. In addition to the professional skills of your trade (e.g. communications, coaching — or other) t’s important to develop marketing and business skills — especially if you are a solopreneur or operating with a small team.
I was lucky in my early years of being in biz. My network literally worked itself. I had a full plate of client work on day two of declaring myself open for biz. People knew me (in the communications world) and word of mouth spread. But when I moved to coaching – a whole new area that most people aren’t that familar with — well, it’s another story. Marketing is increasingly important for me these days. So building the biz becomes as important as continuing to build your professional skills. I take great pride in my professional skills and work hard to continuously hone them…..but what good would they be if I had no biz!
5) Expect that there will be ebbs and flows to the business. Some days are feast and you might feel overloaded and wonder how you will get through all the work. Others may feel like famine (why isn’t the phone ringing!). After 10 years, you learn that if you are doing all that you can do to grow and sustain your business, that the slower periods will pick up. You learn not to panic. Well……you learn to try not to panic:)….and to enjoy a little bit of those reprieves.
6) Networking is very important. And it’s not only about building biz. You also need opportunities to grow, connect, learn. Depending on the nature of your biz, some days can feel isolating. Over the years, I’ve maintained memberships in both my communications world (via IABC) and coaching (ICF). And I’m lucky that I have a fantastic network of great people whom I count in my network (friends, past biz colleagues, associates, etc.)
7) Figure out your boundaries and respect them. From the get-go I realized that I need to establish boundaries. I’ve realized that I work hard enough during the regular work week that I choose not to take evening clients (except for emergency situations). If I did, I’d literally have no life. Read point #1….it’s important to take care of yourself….or else there will be no biz.
8 ) Review and reflect regularly on your biz …not just how the biz is doing but also how you are doing in it…..i.e. your personal experience with it. Is it still working for you? Are you still engaged? Or losing steam? How’s your Mojo? Are you experiencing a TGIM worklife – -and if not, what do you need to shift? If you don’t take time regularly to check in with yourself – well you may end up sleepwalking through work…and that’s bad for you and bad for biz.
9) Build a team of professionals (and/or others) who will support you. That might mean having a good accountant, a good web person, a good tech support – and others….i.e a coach perhaps:)? You’d be surprised how much value this will all give you as you navigate the challenges, opportunities and complexities involved in running your own biz.
10) Celebrate success along the way…..but make sure you define success on your terms. Financial success and clients are certainly important measures but what else is important to you? Is it the quality of your work-life experience? The learning along the way? Small and large accomplishments all count. Acknowledge them.
More to come I’m sure in the days/year ahead on this….but for now, here’s to a TGIM worklife! It’s been a good ride thus far…..looking forward to more!
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