Lessons Learned, 2012

2012 taught me more than I could have ever imaged, and I am so excited to take this knowledge into what I expect to be an amazing 2013. Here are the top lessons I learned last year, that I look forward to implementing in the year ahead.

1. Surrond yourself with a good network
I can easily say that I would not be in the position that I am without such an amazing, strong network. Sometimes it’s the little things, like having someone to vent to, picking someone’s brain or talking through a strategy. Sometimes it’s the big things, like client referrals or invaluable business advice. Whatever the reason and whomever you choose, take time to nurture your network… I can guarantee it will be time well spent. Thank you to everyone who was a part of my 2012; like I said, I wouldn’t be where I am without you and I can’t wait for 2013. (Side note: building a network does not work for selfish people. If you build a network expecting to take and not give, you might as well skip building the network all together.)

2. Build a good team
You often read about the importance of building a good team, but I think this is hard to fully appreciate until you personally experience the trials and tribulations. Seeing the positive impact that the right team member can make is inspiring, the impact of the wrong team member is disheartening. Having to let someone go that you genuinely enjoy as a person? Close to impossible, but in the end it’s not only better for the business, it’s probably better for them too. Let them excel at a job better suited for their expertise. I cannot wait to build an all star team in 2013.

3. Find a good mentor
I always thought this was cliche advice, until I found a really good mentor. One that was able to clear the fog after an hour. One that listens, and then coaches and advises. One that shares experiences, then lets you come to your own conclusion. One whose business experience aligns well with your career goals and objectives. And one that you feel comfortable enough around to really spill the beans, because if we can’t honestly and openly admit our faults we will never grow.

4. Live each day and moment
There are two reasons for which I will focus on living each day and moment in 2013.
1) We are entrepreneurs, living and breathing successes and failures day in and day out. Some of us will make it, others won’t, but when it comes down to it we are sharing in experiences that many people will never have. We are building businesses, and that is really exciting. If we don’t remember to live in the moment and treasure the small successes, all of the fun will be gone before we know it.
2) Things change in a moments notice. I can, and have, theoretically planned out 2013. In fact, planning and forecasting is crucial for any business owner. That being said – based on experiences from 2012, this plan will be thrown off track any moment now and I will adjust accordingly. Whether it’s unexpected referrals, the need to hire new talent immediately, or a new platform that will change our daily routine… there’s always something that keeps me living in the day and moment, ready to react to unforeseen changes immediately.

5. Take time for yourself
Well, at least I will keep telling myself this… but, it’s true that if you never make time for you, you run a greater risk of burning out. Plus, stepping away from your work for a short period of time often allows you to think in a new way, inspiring creativity and fresh ideas. I did learn that taking an hour to go to the gym, or taking half a day on Sunday, does not result in the business crumbling around me and often results in increased productivity. I’m aiming for a little more time at the gym, and a little more time spent on hobbies in 2013 – I fear this will be the hardest to accomplish.

6. Do Good Work
Last, but certainly not least, is to simply produce good work. My number one priority has been, and always will be, to produce the highest quality work possible for my clients. Everything else, including my own brand, has always come second. I don’t think any entrepreneurs would say they are in the business of producing mediocre work, and I like to keep this at the core of everything that I do.

What lessons are you taking into the new year?

Lessons Learned: Week of December 17, 2012

1. Turn stress into excitement! Stressed over a deadline or a large workload? Get excited! If you do work you love, you should be excited by these challenges, and by the fact that you have the opportunity to work towards these goals. Get excited about the deadline you have tomorrow, because you know you can produce something amazing in your time frame. (Again – so thankful for my mentor! He really helped change my mindset)

2. I never did this for the sake of business, but since it has helped develop business I feel like sharing. In reality, the lesson I want to share is to simply be a good person. If someone chooses a different product or service provider, or doesn’t have the budget to work with you, that is no reason to write them off. Offer advice, provide moral support, and keep the relationship moving forward. You never know what might happen a few months down the road.

When all else fails, shut down the computer, turn off the phone, and spend some quality time with family and friends, especially during the holidays.

Lessons Learned: Week of December 3, 2012

1. “You can’t build a better past” – Don Shannon. This is so incredibly true, so stop worrying about what you could’ve done; instead learn from the past, and then start thinking about what you can do to be better.

2. On that note – get yourself a good mentor. An hour with an amazing mentor can do wonders for your career. I always leave with a clear vision and inspiration for weeks to come.

3. Employee reviews are so incredibly productive and positive for both employers and employees, I highly recommend doing them as often as you are able (whether monthly or quarterly).

4. Breakups don’t have to be hard. If you are feeling like the working relationship isn’t productive, chances are so are they. Schedule a call and talk it through, and the outcome will most likely be a positive one.

5. As hard as you might try, you can’t always please everyone. In the off chance that this happens… work your butt off 20x harder to get out of the “penalty box” (as a wise acquaintance so called it).

Lastly – drink good wine. It makes everything better 🙂 Tonight I’m enjoying 2010 Jericho Canyon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
Jericho_Canyon

Lessons Learned: Week of November 26, 2012

I wanted to use this blog as a way to document experiences, learn from others who have already been there, and share what I learn along the way. To attempt to keep up with this blog, I am committing to jotting down what I’ve learned at the end of each week. Here’s what I learned during the week of November 26, 2012:

  1. If you have a bad feeling about a client up front, don’t let a price tag change your mind. You probably had a bad feeling because you know what is best for your business, and moving forward with the wrong clients takes up precious time, energy and resources that could be used elsewhere.
  2. I’ve always heard that hiring the right people is a key ingredient to a successful startup. Hiring a great candidate has added value to our business in just one week! I guess it’s too early to say anything concretely, but I’ve got a good feeling.
  3. Producing high quality work while building a great network continues to lead to good things.

If you have any thoughts on these subjects, I would love to hear them! – Rachel