A stroll down memory lane to revisit each year of my business (from starting fresh to just a few months ago) lets me recap the valuable lessons I learned, to then share with all of you! Because I for one know we could all use a little TLC and support at every stage in our businesses.
Year 1: Enthusiasm sells!
I vividly remember the exact home I went to on my first appointment – my heart racing. My palms sweaty! Yep, I have been there. I believe what truly got me through those very first appointments was enthusiasm. I know what you may be thinking, however showing the excitement you have for a potential project is contagious and from a clients perspective, worth engaging with every time. Push forward and set yourself up as a professional and everything else will follow suit! Put on a brave face, pump yourself up before a presentation, and HAVE FUN! After all, it’s design – shouldn’t it be fun!?
Year 2: You gotta spend $$$ to make it!
Spend quality dollars on marketing. It’s true what they say: you have to spend to earn! If you want to reach those ideal clients, the ones you DREAM of working with – you need to invest in your marketing strategies. Find a platform that makes sense for you business and run with it but always consider consistency before jumping onto the next thing. Don’t discard something too quick before it’s had time to work for you.
Year 3: Do Your Own PR!
No one will shout you out from the rooftops, so get comfortable with tooting your own horn! This is may be the one thing that really set me apart from other design firms when I was starting out – I became my own Public Relations Consultant! Connect with local magazines, newspapers or other online publications to pitch upcoming projects – you just never know when your story may be picked up.
Year 4: Always be one step ahead of your clients!
Your clients shouldn’t be chasing you for updates. Improve your client process to include accurate timelines. Wouldn’t you want to be known for over-delivering? Your clients will be so impressed and excited! Ultimately: creating an experience they will RAVE about to their friends. That’s what it’s all about.
Year 5: Build your team when the timing is right!
To build an empire, you need help and a star-studded team of keeners & go-getters like you! Invest in a team that can help take you to new heights, but most importantly identify the values that align your company’s vision and look for them in your people. I chose to grow my team thoughtfully and slowly over the years to ensure I could invest in each one to the degree it required. So they could confidently speak my business lingo and represent my vision seamlessly. Be picky and don’t shy away from looking at what kind of people skills they have.
Year 6: Work towards a higher average sale!
The higher your average sale, the fewer clients you need. Re-read this sentence again, say it out loud, write it down. I’m all about working smarter, NOT HARDER! This doesn’t happen over night so be patient and remember, you will learn from varying client experiences (and budgets!) which will ultimately set you up with confidence to take on larger projects in the future.
Year 7: Expand your office space thoughtfully!
Don’t jump the gun but at the same time don’t be afraid to expand your fishbowl to bring in some bigger fish. The right moment represents that fine line between being fully ready, and also imagining and manifesting what you KNOW is possible for you. I was always very strategic in business growth and didn’t rush things, but I was also willing to take leaps where I knew I needed to leap. And in my experience, if you put in the work, invest in what’s important, the big fish will come.
Year 8: Always be resourceful!
Go to great ends until you find a solution. A stick-withed-ness attitude will get you so much further in your business and your life. Opportunities will come and go, however I believe that if you are or become a resourceful person, you will always find a way. That is the essence of Entrepreneurship.
Year 9: Pick up the phone!
In a world where everyone is attached to their screen, it pays to put the phone to your ear and have a real conversation with your clients. This never will go unnoticed. I repeat, this will never go unnoticed. How can you set your business up in a way that’s different and unique to your competitors? Start there.
Year 10: Delegate, delegate, DELEGATE!
First, hand off all the things you don’t enjoy doing (or aren’t your strengths) – and thank yourself! Then look at your list of to-do’s again and delegate MORE! There is always more you can get off your plate so that you free up time for the things you’re the BEST at! Remember: busy isn’t a badge of honour – one I am continually learning to take off!
BONUS: Celebrate your achievements and milestones! Time will fly, I can promise you that! I cannot believe I’m writing a blog post recapping 10 years in business… Make sure you are having fun and celebrating your wins every step of the way.