20 Business lessons I learned working for myself.
Do you want to know 20 business lessons I learned running my own business? Well, I recently passed a milestone in my life. On September 11th of this year I marked the 20th year of working for myself. What I did do this year was look back at the ups and the downs and think about the business lessons I have learned along the way over those 20 years. We look at those 20 business lessons I learned in this week’s Inside Look at Building Towards Wealth.
Check Out The Business Lessons Below:
- Begin with the end in mind. If you don’t know where you’re headed, you won’t know when you finally get there. You need to have a destination you are aiming for. Even if that destination changes over time it will give you a direction to get back towards when you get knocked off the path. So, this is a business lesson you will learn early on.
- The money is nice but to hold your destiny in your hands is the best. To be the final word on decisions, the ability to choose our coworkers, the ability to set our own schedules, creative control, and to build something that becomes a part of us. but, that’s the best part and a business lesson to remember, always look back from where you started.
- You are not signing up for the career you think you are. You may love food, woodworking or engineering. But, as a business owner you will also end up wearing many hats including head of HR, marketing, and sales. You can eventually hire for those, but you will do them all as you grow. This business lesson here is to get ready to be the head of every department when you first get started.
- Stay Focused. It Is very easy to want to expand to another market or product line because you see someone else doing it. You need to make sure you are performing your core competencies at an A+ level before expanding. The answer is usually do less, not more. Just be sure to do it well. This is a business lesson that will serve you years on.
- Systematize, systematize, systematize. Something I did a mediocre job of early is to create a system for everything. 80% of what you do is the same thing over and over. Map that out. It not only makes it easier on you it also makes it easier for you to delegate later.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. The people you choose to work with are essential to your business’s success. Hiring people that think just like you, act like you, and look like you, can be alluring. You should also hire people that will complement your skills and add diverse ways of thinking. If everybody you work with views the world through the same lens you will have lots of problems if it’s the wrong lens.
- Work on your business not in your business. Make sure you are still operating as a business owner, and you haven’t given yourself a job. Work smarter not harder. If you have the right team members in place you can delegate the work that makes you an employee of the company instead of the owner.
- Don’t get caught up in grind culture. Owning a business is tough work and there will be times you DO have to grind it out. Don’t live in the social media world where grinding nonstop and without end is glorified. Find a work life balance and don’t burn yourself out to where you hate the life you created. I have lived the never-ending 80-hour work week life and it left me broken, not happy. This is an important business lesson.
- Trust your employees. I know as the owner we are all perfect (Sarcasm intended). If you can get someone to do the job 80% as good as you THINK you do it, then you should delegate/outsource. Give your employees freedom and agency. They may do things differently but often it will be done better than you would have. They will also make mistakes, but they will learn from them just like you because…
- You are going to make mistakes and that’s ok too. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying to be great. We all see the successes people have but we often don’t see the dozens of failures it took to get there. One of the business lessons that will make you a better business owner is to learn from your mistakes and be better from them.
- Everything takes twice as long as you want it to. Be patient. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy button to make your business a success. Many businesses have gone under trying to take a shortcut on the path to success.
- Progress is not a straight line. It is never a straight path from point A to point B. There are a ton of twists and turns that you will have to navigate. Be prepared for the ups and downs. You are never as good as your best day or as bad as your worst day. Take it from a business owner of 20 years.
- Be consistent. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t take off like you want them to. People often overestimate what can be accomplished in a week or a month and underestimate what can be done in a year or a decade. Consistent effort will yield amazing results over time.
- Become an expert at managing your stress and anxiety. Owning a business is not all wine and roses. There will always be something causing you stress or anxiety. You will sometimes feel like a computer browser with too many tabs open. Developing healthy boundaries and consistent self-care habits are a must to deal with the stress and anxiety before they start affecting you.
- Do what you know you should do, even when you don’t want to. Brian Tracy has a saying “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Hopefully you get to a point where you only must do what you want to do in your business. That won’t always be the case.
- Put the clients first. They are your lifeblood. Always look to create massive value for them with your offering. Word of mouth and referrals are better than any type of marketing you can buy so this is one of the greatest business lessons I learned throughout the 20 years of working for myself.
- Don’t be afraid to say no When opportunities present themselves it’s hard to say ‘no’. Constantly adding to our already long list of responsibilities can leave us spread too thin. Don’t operate from a scarcity mentality where you think you need to take every opportunity because you don’t know when the next one will come. Don’t be afraid to turn down opportunities that don’t align with your goals, values, or your schedule. Remember saying no to something now means you can say yes to something else later.
- Stay true to your values There is a great quote by Patrick Meagher, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” Never forsake who you are or what you value in exchange for a dollar. Your business will be a perfect example of this. You can make money and not lose touch with who you are.
- Be Humble. You can have the best business plan, follow all the best practices but life can still happen and send it all south. Luck plays a huge part in our lives, more than many of us are willing to acknowledge. Acknowledge this, be appreciative of those who helped you get where you are, and never believe you have all the answers.
- Keep Learning Either you are getting better, or you are getting worse, there is no standing still. The world will pass you by if you try and stand still. Reading, listening to podcasts and taking classes and just a few of the way to increase your knowledge. Keep seeking out knowledge and developing your ‘toolbox’ of skills.
I certainly don’t have all the answers to life and business but 20 years running my own show has given me ample opportunity to make mistakes and hopefully learn a thing or two along the way. I hope these business lessons will give you some hope or ideas of how to succeed in your business.
If this was helpful, check out my post about financial planning: 13 Lessons Learned in Financial Planning