What I have learned in business
It seems like yesterday, but it is three years since I set up my business Speaking Savvy. I have learned a lot along the way as a solopreneur speaker, there have been many highs and some lows, and plenty of falling, but isn’t it about falling forwards?
A solopreneur can break the rules
I am now a full-time solopreneur (whatever that means!). It is the freedom to walk the 15 seconds it takes to get to my cozy home office; to power up my diffuser with an energy oil blend, because no uptight co-worker is going to say they are allergic to the smell – being a solopreneur means I can break the rules!
Tom is never far from my side
When I am not out seeing clients I work at my desk with my dog Tom on my lap. Let me clarify; my dog is a Greyhound, he thinks he is on my lap, but only his head is on my lap.
Yin yoga and bingeing
I happily work for 10 hours a day, with regular short power breaks, to fill up my flask of ginger and lemongrass tea; to stretch my body with Yin yoga moves and to binge on chocolate (maybe I fooled you for a second into thinking I am super health conscious).
No waiting for approval
I am more productive in my business than I have ever been in the workforce. When I ponder this, I realise it’s because I am solely responsible for the outputs and outcomes in my business. I don’t have to wait for approval; I don’t have to hold a meeting to discuss things – I simply get on and do it.
These are the three things I am reflecting on today as I think back on my three years in business.
#1 I have all the knowledge I need to be where I am right now
I could have started my business earlier; the passion and motivation were there. But, like many who have a dream of starting a business, it’s the ‘starting bit’ not the ‘business bit’ that is the most daunting.
Just one more
I’ll just do one more certification, read one more book, do more free speaking. Whatever the “one more” is that we tell ourselves, it boils down to fear. Fear of being found out, of not knowing it all – the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.
The reality is, I knew more than the people I wanted to help. I knew enough for where I was then. I knew more than I gave myself credit for, and rather than thinking about what skills I had to offer, I was focussing on what skills I didn’t have.
There is always more to learn. I am committed to lifelong learning, but I am content that what I know right now is enough for where I am right now.
As a Public Speaking Coach, I get to work with some amazing clients and helping them on their speaking journeys. I continue on my speaking journey, and I have an incredible mentor who helps me.
#2 The hardest and most valuable resource to manage is time
We all have the same 1440 minutes each day; it is what we choose to do with them that counts.
In my previous career, I managed people, assets, large budgets, and contracts. Until recently, I was juggling a job as well as a business, Monday to Friday in my job and my business at the weekend (in the early stages, creating content, building relationships and my brand).
It’s easy to forget the time when you do what you love
Gradually over the next two years, I reduced my hours in my job and the rest of the time in the business. I am grateful I was able to access flexible working policies to allow me to work part-time to allow me to grow my business. I had set days at work and the same for business.
As my speaking and coaching business got busier and I still had a contract with a government department I found myself working more hours. A seven-day working week is not uncommon but it never feels like work. Efficiently managing my time has meant that I can fit a lot into my working day.
Power breaks for productivity
I gave up watching TV when I started my business; all my information I digest in the form of podcasts or videos. I make phone calls while I walk the treadmill or around the local park with my dogs, I use the Pomodoro technique to ensure that I take power breaks for productivity for posture and to recharge. It’s easy to forget the time when you do what you love.
#3 Ask better questions
I have worked with some fabulous people who have helped me develop my business, several I couldn’t do without.
I have also made some costly mistakes by engaging people to help me, and then finding out they were not a match for me. A couple of bad coaching experiences did put me off for a long time. There are many “experts” out there, people who promise a lot and then can’t deliver on those promises.
Living by my values
To me, the values of integrity, respect, fairness, and commitment are important.
I understand that for others their values are different. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with these people. Instead of thinking of this experience as a bad business decision, I think of it as a valuable development experience. As a result, I have learned to seek out people who share the same values as me. I now ask better questions.
Work with people who come recommended
I work with people who come with a recommendation from others who have used their services, and I don’t recommend people if I haven’t tried their services.
If you are thinking of starting a business, then start. You have the knowledge you need right now if you are passionate about what you have to offer and are willing to learn.
You can manage your time by focussing your efforts on what matters most and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions when choosing who you want on your team.