May 19, 2016

What I’ve Learned My First Year of Going Full Time

This is what I've learned my first year of being in business full time.

It’s been a year since I graduated from college. A year since I took this business from part time to my full time gig. A year of supporting myself without student loans or child support or some other supplemental income.

I feel successful. I did it. I’m doing what I love, running my own business, supporting my family, working my own schedule and being here with my kiddos when they need me.

I haven’t always felt successful this past year, however. There have been times I’ve been super stressed out and worried – where was the next client coming from?  There have been times when I’ve been so overwhelmed and totally exhausted. And there have been times when I’ve thought I should just go get “a job” and throw in the towel with this entrepreneur stuff.

But, I’m glad I didn’t, I’m super proud that I’ve kept going and I’m looking forward to the next year to see what I’ll accomplish and what’s going to happen with my business.

Here are some things that I’ve learned, stuff that I’ll take with me into the future and some pearls of wisdom that I hope can help you, too – wherever YOU might be on your own path toward making your business dreams a reality.

It’s not always easy, but I do think it’s worth it.  🙂

1. Have a plan and know where I’m going

I’m super impatient – I want stuff NOW. And I have loads of ideas and things I want to create. But, at the end of the day – there are only 24 hours and I’m just not 25 anymore. So I plan. I spend time really thinking about what I want to do, how long it’s going to take and when I can make the time to get it done.

Planning can sometimes be overwhelming – but making it a priority is what’s allowed me to grow and build and keep moving forward.

2. Be flexible with my plans

As meticulously as I plan, things pretty much NEVER go exactly as I’ve laid them out.  Like, ever. I’ve learned to be flexible, to keep tweaking, to be okay if things take longer or get bumped off to a later date.

The key with planning is to keep tending to your plans vs. giving up the very second that things go off schedule. I like to think of planning as a garden that I have to weed, organize, love on, water, and consistently pay attention to. I can’t predict hail storms or the deer finding their way in – I have to flow and work with what’s happening in each moment.

3. It’s okay to say no

It’s okay to turn away work that just doesn’t feel right, or to choose not working with people that don’t make my heart sing. It’s okay to stay in and work instead of going out and doing stuff. It’s okay to say no to staying up super late and choose to crawl in bed with my kids instead. It’s okay to say no to projects that I don’t have time for or people that suck my energy.

No is one of the very best words I’ve incorporated big time into my life this past year. It makes space for saying yes to more of what my business needs, more of what my children need, and more of what I need.

4. Trust myself and believe that I’m kind of a big deal

I’ve learned so much in life. I’ve done ALOT. All of my experiences over the years have qualified me to work with clients the way I do, to provide what I do, to make the kind of difference I make.

It’s easy to feel like “I’m new” in my field, and technically I am – I’ve only been doing design work for a few years and only full time this past year. But, my life experiences allow me to bring so much more to the table and I’ve come to trust that what I bring goes way beyond basic visual branding.

I understand people in deep ways and can translate that knowledge into building brands and businesses with my clients that contribute in bigger ways.  I know that the work I do lifts people up big time, it comes from the soul and impacts the quality of life.

I’ve come to trust that I know what I’m doing and I love doing it. This is major!

5. Take time off. For serious.

I didn’t do this for a long time. Years of being a single mom, going to school, working my business trained me to go.go.go. But, this stopped being sustainable and I was seriously feeling burned out.

A few months ago, I started to be more intentional about taking the weekends off – to be with my kids, do stuff around the house, read, relax and just enjoy some unscheduled time.

It was hard at first – that pull to jump on my computer to work was always there. But, I’ve gotten pretty dang good at it now. I don’t work on the weekends. I don’t check my email (I might peek – but I try to leave replying to Monday). I let my clients know that I’m putting it down and will get back to them in the new week.

This feels good – my time feels more sacred and honoring my time off has made a big difference in my life, my energy and my enjoyment of the work when I get back to it.

6. Being scrappy with things is okay and gets the job done

There are SO many business tools out there and everyone is always promoting or suggesting to sign up for this or purchase that. And it seems like much of those things are REQUIRED to succeed.

I’m not knocking these tools – at all – I know that many of them are great and I’m sure to try some different things in the future.

BUT!  You don’t need to spend that much money to build and create your business. I run a pretty lean ship over here and it hasn’t stopped me from doubling my email list in the past few months, or hosting some pretty kick ass webinars, or building out my online courses, or marketing myself like a champ.

You can get a ton accomplished without spending a small fortune on fancy tools or software and I’m glad that I didn’t give into to the hype about things. I found ways to get it done and the getting it done is what it’s all about.

I do think too much focus is spent on getting the right “gear” to run our online business and it can distract us from doing the real work of creating and promoting what we’re up to.

7. Putting it out there is way more effective than getting it perfect

I had an idea for a class and spent so much time planning and getting it ready that the thing was NEVER getting started. So I decided to do a beta run – without ANY of the content created yet. I just invited my gang to come play with me.

I created it WHILE teaching it. It was messy at times and far from perfect. But, I got it out there and it turned out amazing. I learned a ton and created a product that I’m really proud of.

If I had waited until it was all shiny and perfect, I would never have gotten it out the door and into the world. Ever. This is a lesson that I keep applying. As Nike would say, just do it!  So much power in that.

8. Be clear about what I’m here to do and who I’m here to serve

I did a ton of work about who my business is for and who I want to serve and what I’m all about. It’s my core branding work and that kind of clarity has been HUGE for me this past year.

I know what I want to say and I have no confusion about how to say it. I know who I’m talking to and can easily find my ideal people on the socials. I love what I do and who I work with.

Clarity has given me power and truth and action and motivation and inspiration. I’m on a mission and it feels good to know what I’m here to do.

9. I take care of my people

I love my clients and students. Like massively in love. I will do anything for them and I’m happy to help and support and guide them toward their dreams.

Part of getting super clear about who I’m here to serve is that I get to choose the kind of people I most love working with – which makes working so fun and EASY. It’s a joy to take care of my people.

It’s been super important to me that my clients love the work I do for them and love the process of getting there. That kind of commitment pays off. Clients come back to work with me again, they recommend me and I feel good about the work I’m producing.

10. Do my own thing

I love to learn and research and observe what’s happening around me. Much of what I know and use in my business is because of all that I’ve absorbed from paying attention to what’s happening online.

BUT, it is so super easy to go down the learning rabbit hole and not apply or get into action about the things I’m learning. You ever do that? Just get overwhelmed with ideas and stuff to do and focus on and you obsess with learning more and before you know it 3 hours have passed and you haven’t done a darn thing?

Well, that’s when you have to walk away and just do your own thing. Trust yourself and believe that you have something to offer – so get out there and start offering it. In YOUR way, with YOUR systems, in YOUR voice, and do what feels good and right for you.

I think that’s what helped me go from part time to full time so easily..  I jumped in and started doing my thing in the way that I like to do things.

I have my business set up so it works for me and my family, but also delivers good stuff for my clients.

I create what I love to create and do things how it makes sense to me vs trying to do it like everyone else.

I do my own thing – and yes, I still learn and observe, but I do so FAR less than I used to because I’m now focused on MY work, which is way more productive and fulfilling.

11. Get support

This has been one of the biggest things that has helped me this past year – getting the support I need. I have worked with coaches when needed, I have asked for help about things I don’t understand.  And, most importantly, I have an amazing community of people who are FOR me and my business success.

I have a friend who I meet with once per week. She’s a single mom like me and has her own business. We meet to chat about life, business, projects we’re working on. We listen to each other and push each other to accomplish our goals. We understand each other and these meetings are GOLD – we always leave lifted up and ready for what’s next.

I have other friends who I can brainstorm with and bounce ideas around with. They let me know if I’m on the wrong path or help me see easier ways to get stuff done. I have this very amazing unofficial advisory board that I might just fall apart without. So super thankful.

I know there is a ton of other stuff that I could share with you about how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned this past year, but this is enough to chew on, me thinks.

I’m so grateful. I’m happy. I’m satisfied about how this past year has gone down. I was nervous, but I think I’m doing alright.

Thank you so much – YOU. For being here, for supporting my business, for letting me contribute, for buying my programs, for sharing what I do, for listening and for being here, part of my gang. I appreciate you so much. ♥



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