#19 - What I learned in 10 years of business - Part 1

10 years ago this month I launched my first business - it was an online children's clothing store called Apples'n'Oranges that sold exclusively Canadian brands of clothing. A year after we launched that site, we opened a bricks and mortar version of the store at a local mall. Ultimately the business wasn't the right fit, especially at that time in my life, but it was a great first step into the world of business (my business partner still sells one of the lines of clothing we discovered during that time, check out her stuff here.)

Since then I've done social media consulting, ran a social media conference, launched a blog for parents in the National Capital Region and became a business coaching launched the Biz Studio.

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It's been a busy ten years and I've learned a LOT and I wanted to share some of what I've learned with all of you. There's so much that I've learned though that it is going to take multiple podcasts to share it all - this is part 1 and it's some things I've learned about the people you deal with and work with, and the work you do and how you do it.

1. Not all advice is good advice

People have a lot of advice for you when you're in business - whether they've ever owned a business or not!

Some of this advice is great. Some of this advice is terrible. Some of this advice is great in theory or for someone else but not for you. Learning to feel confident not taking all the advice you're given can be hard but is so important. Trust your gut, trust your mentors/coach/close confidantes and know that you don't have to feel badly in the least for ignoring some of the advice you're given.

2. Know who you want to work with (and don't feel badly that it's not everybody)

You need to know who your ideal client is and really figure out as much as you can about them. But even more than that, you need to not feel guilty that you don't want to work with everyone.

I've done this and I've seen this with a lot of my clients. We want to focus on a certain kind of client but we feel badly about all the ones we're not planning to focus on and target. We don't want them to feel like we don't want to help them too!

Just because you want to target a certain kind of client does not mean you dislike other people or that they're going to have their feelings hurt. This is one of those mindset things that can get us feeling really stuck when it comes to figuring out our niche, so it's really important to figure out.

3. Not everyone is the right fit for you

You can't help everyone. Sometimes there are people who you think are very nice that you would like to help, or who think they need you, but you can tell that you aren't the right person for the job. Sometimes they are simply not the kind of person you want to work with. It can be really hard to be OK with not wanting to work with someone or saying no to potential business.

I've had people ask for quotes in my business and I could tell from minute one that they were a bad fit for me and in the early years I would do up the quote anyways, I would want the business anyways, and I would feel sad when I didn't get the business. Why? Because we want to feel liked and wanted and helpful! Then I've gotten/taken those jobs and it's gone badly, just as I knew it would!

It's taken me a long time to get there, but WOW it's empowering to take that information in your gut at minute one and say "you know what, I don't think I'm the right fit for this job, but let me see if I can find you someone who is."

4. Be OK with not wanting to do everything

It's OK to not want to learn something you don't want to learn.

It's OK to not want to do something you're good at for money just because you can (there are a lot of things we are good at that we don't like, and a lot of things that we only like when we do them for ourselves.)

It's OK to decide you don't have the time or the staff to take on certain kinds of projects.

Again, this is a trap I fell in to for years - that I had to do what was asked of me. I had to find a way to make what people wanted happen.

Owning what you want to do and what your capacity is is such a powerful thing.

5. You can't make people do the work

This point is mostly for people in service type businesses where the client is going to have to do some of the work in order to make what you've done successful. When you run a business that requires your clients to do part of the work, the success of the job is going to depend on an outside source - the client. You don't have the ability to make them do the work.

You can guide them, you can counsel them, you can give them all the tools they need, but you can't MAKE them do the work. Sometimes they won't do the work, and it might feel crappy, and make you feel like you didn't do your job well enough. But sometimes it's just that they weren't ready to take the time, that they weren't ready to make the commitment, that they weren't ready to do the work. You need to know that will happen, and be OK with the fact that that will happen.

What you need to take responsibility for is what you have the ability to control - YOUR work, making sure you're the best at your part of the job.

That's part 1 of the things I've learned, in part two in a couple of weeks I'm going to talk about some money lessons!

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#1: Three strategies to get the life and biz you want

#12: When saying no is right for your business

#14: Why goal setting and planning suck