BIGGEST LESSONS LEARNED AS A BUSINESS OWNER

Being a business owner, your own boss, in control of what you create can be wicked fun am I right?

However, there is a flip side that can be the complete opposite. Since reinventing and relaunching my business over three years ago I have learned a ton and continue to learn every day. Here are five of the biggest lessons I have learned and how they helped my company to grow.

USE SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES FOR EVERYTHING

To ensure that each task, each customer receives the same service, I ensure that I have a process for everything and a system to back it up. For instance, I set up an onboarding process that helps me get all the information I need from a prospect, provide them the information they need to get us up and running quickly and efficiently. This process saves everyone time and money. The same goes for accounting and invoicing. My Time tracking program integrates with QuickBooks to eliminate error and cut the invoicing process in half. “Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” – Jim Rhon OR “You control your own wins and losses” – Maria Sharapova

TECHNOLOGY

Okay so I am a big tech geek and love learning and using programs, apps and systems that automate, help, reduce error, etc. Over the past three plus years I have come to rely on some amazing programs that help my business run daily. Some of them are TSheets for time tracking, QuickBooks for Accounting, Dubsado for my CRM, WordPress for my Website, Zapier for …well my Zaps and other integrations, Adobe Creative Cloud, Hootsuite for all our social and our clients, Google for Business, and the list goes on! So many cool systems. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

DELEGATE

If you are a startup this might be difficult at first, especially if you’re a one-person show. However, you will reach a point when you will need help from others in order to reach your business goals. Some people find delegating a breeze while others will hold on to work thinking “by the time I explain it all I could have it done”. This type of thinking is detrimental to your workflow and your growth. If you are overloaded, get stuff off your plate. Take a half hour or an hour and get it off and done. Then you can focus on what is more important to you at that time. If you struggle with something, say web design, then outsource it to someone who knows. Don’t like blog writing? Pay someone to do it for you then you can do the stuff your passionate about. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

TAKE CHANCES

If you never step out of your comfort zone you cannot grow. I stepped WAY out of mine when I started up. I had already been down this road but this time I was going to pave it my way. I set goals for myself, attainable, over many months and broke them down into achievable actions. I took the risk of investing in my business and having it flop. I took the chance of loosing client’s when I implemented packages and increased my pricing. I took the chance of being successful and dealing with all the hurdles that would come from that success. Owning a business is all about chances, risk and reward. It is well worth it if you learn from mistakes and not missed chances. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”-Pablo Picasso

HONESTY AND ABOVE ALL BALANCE

I would rather be honest about my business, my services and not gain a client rather than hard sell someone and lose them later. When I started, I made a vow to myself that I was going to pride myself on honesty and if someone did not want to work with my company because of it, then so be it. Over the years I have had my fair share of being asked to do things that are against my business and personal ethics and I’m proud to have stood up and said, “no thank you”. My business is successful because I have the trust of those I work with. We trust one another and they know that my business is an honest one. We do what we say we are going to do and if something comes up, we tell our clients we do not offer excuses.

The reason most of us become business owners is not only to realize a dream or a goal but to provide a balance that can only come from being your own boss. Now that being said, balance is and can be one of the hardest things in business to attain. I started this company so I could have more time with my family, freedom to work from anywhere, no more anxiety around how many days off I have left because my kid needs to go to the doctor. Whatever your reason is for balance always strive to keep it. Sometimes you will maintain it and others times you won’t. Remember your big picture, your Why, keep it honest and treasure your integrity. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. – Carl Bard

Owning a business is like being in school every day, an opportunity to learn around every corner. Learn from everything, your successes, your misses and above all your mistakes. What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned in your business that you think other business owners could learn from?

WHY I CHOSE TO BE A BUSINESS OWNER – MY WHY

Why would I want to run a business? What is it about running a business that makes me want to take the risks, work long hours and be vulnerable to the ups and downs of entrepreneurship?

Many people don’t understand, but, many people ask me WHY.

I can’t imagine my life any other way! It runs deep in my blood. It’s my passion and my life’s greatest pursuit.

Today I want to share my Why.

If you’re not familiar with the Why concept, it was made popular by thought-leader Simon Sinek and is crucial to explore if you’re willing to come to the table head-on and dig deep into WHY you do what you do.

You know WHAT you do and HOW you do it. But do you truly know WHY?

And when you figure it out, it will affect everything. In the best way possible, of course!

It will move your business and your purpose in ways you never thought possible.

Your motivation, your services, and the quality of your work will skyrocket.

It’s why you show up every day. It makes your victories sweeter and your goals non-negotiable.

My passion for the work I do as a Virtual Assistant is revolved around my client’s success. I have an innate talent to make things easier for people. Did I mention I LOVE organization? And I’ve been told I have an incredible eye for all the little details 😉

Giving 110% to the work I produce helps propel my client’s progress in ways they never imagined. It also brings excitement and new opportunities in unexpected ways.

No more overwhelm. No more unfinished projects. Dreams become realities. Joy and freedom appear. I love being part of that success.

Too many of us define our lives by what we do for a living rather than accepting that what we do for a living is a part of an overall purpose that guides our lives.

Have you explored your Why? If you haven’t check out this TedTalk. It will be the best 20 minutes of your day. I promise.

CLIENT GIFT GIVING

IMG_7266Have you ever wondered how gift giving affects your clients? The benefits of giving business or corporate gifts are plentiful. These days, giving gifts as Entrepreneurs, REALTORS and Small Business owners to clients are no longer seen as “nice to” but rather as a business imperative. Gifts help businesses to create goodwill, strengthen relationships, enhance your company’s image and create an emotional connection and positive perception of your brand.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for gift giving for the holiday season or any time of the year. There is a distinction between promotional gifts and corporate gifts. Both are valuable marketing tools for specific purposes in business. Promotional items are typically branded items of a lower cost, used as giveaways in large quantities as an extension of advertising efforts. Corporate gifts, on the other hand, are typically higher value items which are given with the intention of showing gratitude and strengthening relationships. They increase brand loyalty and encourage recipients to interact favourably with your brand.

IMG_7273If you are giving a gift to an existing or potential client, do find out what their company’s gifting policy is first. Banks, auditing firms and multi-national companies have strict rules around gifting. Feel free to ask your client upfront if they have a “No Gifting” policy, then at least your client will know that the thought was there. They will probably give you suggestions on what are acceptable ways to show your appreciation. Don’t go overboard with lavish or intimate gifts.

Your heart might be in the right place, but a gift that is excessive or a little too personal can make your recipient feel uncomfortable. Avoid outlandish gifts like jewellery. Try to stick to gift baskets, chocolate and sweets, coffee or wine and their accessories if in doubt. Don’t guess how to spell your recipient’s name. Getting their name wrong on a gift is a no-no. Instead of having warm, fuzzy feelings, your recipient will feel embarrassed or think that you are careless. That’s the opposite of what you are going for. Finally, do have your gift professionally wrapped. Great presentation increases the excitement of receiving a gift. Professional gift-wrapping also adds to your message of how much you value your recipient.

Don’t be shy to add a personal note and a gift card too!

Donna Hartrick,
My Shopping Diva
www.myshoppingdiva.ca