10 Things I Learned in 10 Years of Business, Part 2

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Still in the mode of celebrating ten years, here are five more lesson I’ve learned since being in business for ten years. (For the other five, click here.)

  1. Your mission may change, but your character shouldn’t. I went from focusing on church office personnel to a more general audience, and back to “overwhelmed professionals” which is still a big group. Throughout the iterations of my business, I never stopped trying to operate the business with professional standards–paying the proper taxes, keeping up with the right paperwork, etc.  [Tweet “Your mission might change, but your character shouldn’t.”]
  2. Be responsive. It’s quite frustrating to think your emails to someone go into some black hole somewhere. We must extend grace of course–technology doesn’t always work right and people can become overwhelmed. However, if you run a business and don’t respond to leads, or answer emails in a reasonable time, you aren’t going to build trust in those potential buyers/clients.
  3. Don’t undercharge. For years I offered resources at pretty inexpensive prices. I still have several e-books for .99 on Amazon. However, for the more hands on services, such as speaking and virtual assisting, I’ve learned to up my fees to better reflect what really goes into offering such services. Costs like up-to-date technology, travel, preparation, etc. need to be factored in. In addition, I moved toward rarely doing a speaking engagement–even locally–for free. You’d hire a plumber if you need one…why expect a speaker to speak for free? (For more on what you should think about when hiring a speaker, click here.)
  4. Don’t burn bridges. I’ve been blessed to work for/at a number of organizations through the years, and almost comically, I’ve hardly ever left a place by my choice to put in a resignation. It’s been due to a move, or often, to a reorganization that I no longer fit into. However, I’ve tried to maintain friendly relationships and also have pleasant connections online with other entrepreneurs.. This has always been a blessing. You never know where a recommendation may come from, or opportunity to go back years later to speak to that group again (yes, that happened.) And, perhaps the biggest lesson of all..
  5. I’m not for everyone. Sometimes, in the quest to make somewhat of a living, entrepreneurs don’t want to say “no” to anyone, but having too general of an audience doesn’t build a business well. People begin to think, “What is it that you actually do?” The Platform materials are helpful in encouraging you to come up with a more laser-focused “value proposition.” That’s why I now state up front that I’m a virtual assistant, consultant, author and speaker. Even that, though, needs wisdom on a case-by-case basis. It’s freeing to be able to discern if a potential client is, frankly, going to be more trouble than the job is worth. Or that if I have to follow up multiple times, they probably aren’t ready for a professional collaboration. Or if the speaking engagement would take more prep than the organization is willing to pay for. Or that not everyone is going to resonate with my style of communication, my personality, or my products/services. I need to serve well the ones that connect with my style, pricing, and skills and for whom the timing is right for both of us.

Running a business is eye-opening, wonderful, and a challenge all at the same time. I’m glad for the lessons I’m learning, how I’m growing, and how I can serve others. I hope HOPE has been a blessing to you at least once in the last 10 years!

Your turn: How has HOPE Unlimited blessed you in the last ten years? I’d love to hear!

 

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