Well, wasn’t 2021 a whopper?
Bet we all thought that once we saw the back of 2020, life would feel a little more normal – sadly, for those of us in the UK at least, the news is becoming difficult to watch again and so I’m currently spending my days with my fingers in my ears saying “la la la”…
Anyway, on to the fun stuff! Starting my own business has been one of those things where I expected the hard days and understood that things would get tough sometimes. But boy, did I underestimate just how difficult it can be. I’ve learned SO much in the last 16 months (can’t believe it’s as long as that) and I felt like sharing the 9 biggest takeaways I’ve had in 2021 that I hope will stand me in good stead in 2022.
1. Every day’s a school day
Honestly, all I do nowadays is learn. Whether that’s a tangible skill, like a new program, how to do something on Kartra (I swear that software just gets bigger and bigger the longer I use it) or a soft skill like becoming less nervous on sales calls, I learn something new every day!
2. Don’t allow yourself to mope longer than a few hours
In the initial stages of my business, I would often suffer a setback (haven’t we all?) and it would actually set me back for days at a time. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my mental health in the past (and present, if I’m honest) and rejections are a humongous trigger for me. However, I’ve since taken a step back and looked at how I react to things like this. I know the importance of actually feeling your emotions and not repressing them, but I will put a definite end time on my moping – ie. “Shame, I really wanted to work with them. Oh well – at 1pm let’s get back to it!”
3. Share your achievements with someone who can remind you of them in the darker times
This one goes hand in hand with the above and my rock in all aspects of my life is my partner, Tom. He knows every single thing about my business, how I feel about it daily, all the wins I’ve had, all the losses and he always seeks to boost my mood. For example, if I’ve had a particularly big loss (or, that’s how my brain sees it, anyway), he will often list out all the things that I should be proud of to help me move on.
4. Celebrate every time you sign a new client
I open a mini bottle of prosecco every time I sign a new client. Fancy enough to feel like a special occasion, but doesn’t break the bank and it’s now my own little “well done, Lauren” ritual.
5. Respect your own boundaries ferociously
When I was starting out in business, “respect your boundaries” was a phrase that seemed to be bandied about all the time, and I thought to myself “of course I respect my boundaries, but what does it matter if I reply to a client at 6pm, or skip my lunch to keep working, or get paid a few days late”? Well, it turns out, those things are really important to respect – if that’s what you’ve decided is key to your happiness, ESPECIALLY once you become fully booked or have a lot of clients on your roster. It can soon spiral very quickly out of control, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and unable to relax (I know, I’ve been there).
6. Never forget you’re a tortoise and not a hare
Running a business is about the long game, not the overnight success. I think we’ve all established that overnight success isn’t really a thing anyway, so if you think that you’ve seen someone magically do well out of nowhere – just know that they probably haven’t been on your radar! Keep plugging away at your own work, don’t compare yourself to others, and you’ll enjoy the whole process a lot more.
7. Turn off your bloody notifications
This ties in with number 5. It’s so much easier to stick to your boundaries if you can’t see Slacks, emails, and even Instagram DMs come through onto your phone. I now feel so much more at peace with myself and my life! (Hint: for Apple users, the new “Scheduled Summary” feature is excellent for this.)
8. Don’t feel guilty about taking an extra day off
This one definitely stems from forgetting you’re not an employee any more, and if you don’t want to work one day, then you absolutely do not have to. Ensure that you negotiate this with your clients – ie, don’t offer them 24 hours turn around time on tasks because then you will never feel like you are your own boss. Focus on project work rather than retainers. Find what works for you to feel less guilt.
9. You are so SO brave
I try to tell myself this one, often. None of my offline friends have businesses – so I must be either crazy or brave! (Definitely brave.) So many people will never take that leap into building their own business, creating their own (uncapped) income, working the hours they want to, stepping outside of their comfort zone daily, having a good cry (at least) once a week. It’s honestly the most difficult but most rewarding, fulfilling, exciting, magical thing I’ve ever done and I’m so thankful I took that first step.
So I would love to hear in the comments – what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned this year, that you’ll be taking into 2022?
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