10 Things I Learned in 10 Years of Business, Part 1

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Ten years.

Wow.

It’s time for a big birthday celebration and that’s going to happen in April! In fact, there will be a special announcement later this week about how we are going to celebrate, which includes the giveaway of 10 Chick-Fil-A gift cards (worth $10 each!) Why am I doing this? Read on…

In April of 2005, I launched HOPE Unlimited, which initially stood for the variety of ways I “helped other people excel.” It was an umbrella business to consolidate freelance writing, speaking, contract work, and online products. One of the catalysts for establishing an official business was that I had the opportunity to obtain and take over a resource for church secretaries, called PROfile. I spent several years providing encouragement and resources to those in church office work, and it evolved into encouraging professional women as a whole.

In 2012, I became a charter member of Platform University, and a new journey began. I started to learn current and relevant principles of building a business and an online presence, and in 2014 happily won a ticket to the Platform Conference in Colorado. I went back and forth about whether I should go–could I cover the expenses not included with the ticket? I finally decided to go for it and I’m so glad. I began to get more clarity and came away with a narrower focus from Helping Other People Excel to Helping Overwhelmed Professionals Excel, and I got more serious about offering services as virtual assisting and consulting, creating resources and remaining available for speaking/training engagements.

I’m seeing steady strengthening of HOPE in this new chapter, and as I take some time to reflect on the last 10 years as a part-time entrepreneur, here are some lessons I’ve learned and am still learning (in no particular order.) I’ll be sharing 10 in celebration of HOPE’s tenth birthday, breaking it into a two-part post:

  1. A small business often remains small. HOPE Unlimited is not yet a huge source of income. My needs have always been met, but entrepreneurs must realize that their part-time business may remain just that–a second source of income, or something that is not equivalent to full-time. And that can be ok! You have to figure what you need/want for your particular lifestyle.
  2. Avoid overly comparing your business with someone else’s. Each business is unique. Because my business involves having a public platform (promoting books, etc.) I have regular input from other platform builders (including some clients) and if I’m not careful, I could be jealous of their level of success, the number of followers they have, etc.
  3. Success is not always measured in money. You never know how you might touch someone.  Once in a while you may hear how someone implemented a tip or idea, or is just encouraged by your faithful presence online. Being faithful doesn’t always mean a tangible paycheck, but it can mean an investment in something far more eternal.
  4. Excellence is not the same as perfection. I’m not really a perfectionist. However, there are plenty of entrepreueurs who are. However, to quote some successful business folks, sometimes you just have to “Ship it.” Get the product out there–without glaring errors of course–and tweak as you go. Online business has opened a world of being able to correct on the fly. At the same time, this isn’t an excuse to be sloppy. While resources don’t have to be perfect, glaring errors aren’t going to gain you points of trust with an audience either. I should be excellent in my writing skills even when posting on social media or writing an email. That means sometimes, I need to slow down.
  5. Feedback (especially complimentary) is a gift. You may not realize how much it means to have someone take a moment to write in or mention that they read your posts. Just last night someone I highly respect mentioned that she follows my postings on Linked In. On a recent Sunday, in passing, someone said, “Your blog continues to get better.” You may think writers get lots of uplifting feedback, but in my experience, we may not get as much as you think. Those uplifting words and engagement mean a lot!

Next time, I’ll pick up with the other five lessons I’ve been since being in business. In the meantime, your turn. What lesson have you learned in the last ten years? Contact me or let’s get the discussion going on social media. (I’ve gotten the comments started on the blog, come chime in!)

Watch for a special announcement later this week to kick off HOPE’s birthday month!

 

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4 thoughts on “10 Things I Learned in 10 Years of Business, Part 1

  1. Know when to let a client or perspective client go. It is easy for us to get excited when someone expresses interest in something we have to offer and we don’t want to lose that contact. First, it is important to follow up in a timely fashion and not wait for them to contact you. This contact may be via phone, email, or Facebook message. If you don’t reach them on the first try though, give it a couple of days and try again. Wait a week to make a third contact. At the point of a third contact and you leave another message, let them know you realize they are busy and you do not want to be a bother to them. Let them know that the ball is in their court if they are still interested in connecting and you will look forward to hearing them. Keep all of these messages upbeat and positive. If you used the phone message as a way to contact them, consider doing a follow up email or Facebook message too. Maybe it is easier for them to connect through other media.

    You may never hear from that person again, and that is OK. Move on. I have often gotten to the third call and they will let me know that they appreciated me calling. They may have lost my number, forgot to return the call because life is busy, or may have never gotten the other messages. Assume nothing and be careful to not take on the thinking that you did something wrong, they don’t like you, etc. You don’t know so don’t make up these things in your head.