5 lessons from 5 years in business

Happy 5th Birthday Pipsy.

It’s hard to believe it’s five years since I took the leap from a safe corporate role to become an independent consultant. It’s not at all what I imagined. It’s certainly not what I wrote in my business plan. And I wouldn’t trade in the experience, freedom and fun for five years stuck in a corporate job.
So for all those who’ve also taken the step to start their own business, or are thinking about it, here are 5 lessons that I’ve learnt in 5 years in business….

1. Patience and Perseverance

Honestly at times I’ve have thought of giving up as it would be easier. As an eternal optimist I’ve kept on. It took, and is taking, much more time and energy than I ever thought – every step from setting up a website, getting in front of potential customers, to writing a book. Now I double, or even triple the time I first think it would take.

Perseverance pays off, though not in the way I expected. A proposal I worked until midnight for a large company, I never heard back from them despite five follow-ups (persistence or perseverance?). Three years later I get a call – from a different company, for a different project – but the same person!

2. Get good advice

When I started my business I asked other business owners for the one thing they’d done to make their business successful. I got all sorts of answers from “learnt cold calling”, “invested 15k in SEO”, “bought the industry rock star program”……
Conclusion there is not one right way. Be wary of anyone who tries to sell you a program that will turn your business into an overnight success. They are probably turning their own business into an overnight success with your (and other people’s) money.
Good advice has helped me tremendously, but there is no silver bullet. I have many people to thank for their time and advice along this journey – clients, supporters, good friends, coaches and advisors. Nobody does it all on their own.

3. Relationships REALLY matter

All my business has come through relationships. Someone I know, someone I met, or someone I know who referred me. In an era of social media, being seen does matter. However, where the rubber hits the road, it’s the personal relationships that count.

4. Be bold

In the corporate world we’re taught to be politically astute, influence others and be likeable. That’s what gets you up the corporate ladder. As consultants we’re bought into provoke, see things a different ways, make things change. As a thought leader your ideas are supposed to new and controversial, otherwise they’re not thought provoking. Not everyone will like what you say. Don’t be sorry – that’s the point.

5. Have Fun

It isn’t fun all the time. For me, the fun days are more frequent than the frustration days. You’ve got to be enjoying it. If I wasn’t enjoying it there would be easier ways to full in my day and bring in a regular income.

What are your lessons in the last five years? What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?

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