Looking Back and Moving Forward – Five Things I’ve Learned After Starting a Business

What a difference a year makes.

Last week, I was going through old posts (mostly trying to find old holiday content that I could re-share) and stumbled upon this post. At this time last year, I was in over my head and drowning. Our new business was still only a few months old and Lynsey, my partner, was out on maternity leave. That compounded with the holidays, family obligations, monetary stress and just trying to get out the door in the morning had me running ragged.

I think a lot of people think that I’m not dependent on the income from Lemonade. That quitting my job was an easy choice. I know I only feel this way because I’m a woman. Certainly no one would think that if the gender roles were reversed. Either way though, I can assure you that starting our business wasn’t just a fun project. We’re building a business, one that we hope will help, not only contribute to our own bottom lines but also to those of our future employees.

So for all of the “life is expensive” reasons, I was stressed out. It showed in my skin, my eyes and the way I carried myself. But I knew it was a season. And thankfully, all seasons change.

During that season, I made lots of mistakes – mostly at work – and that was tough for me. As someone who holds themselves to a high standard, this was hard for me. But I was doing what I could do get through and I made peace with myself that it was enough. Not to say that was easy. There was bad skin, exhaustion and a lot of tears. Starting a business may be easy but keeping one running and making it successful is a lot of time, hustle and hard work. Without even mentioning trying to maintain some sort of home life.

A year later, I can look back at that time and be thankful for it. Especially as we checked off some major work milestones – those ‘pinch me’ moments that I’ll always remember in the last couple months. We hired our first full-time employee, moved into our very own office and toasted to our best month ever. It’s a little surreal and certainly something that couldn’t be accomplished without supportive and incredible clients, friends and family (or clients who’ve become friends that are like family).

I say all of this because so often we forget to look back and recognize how far we’ve come. Hard charging ahead towards new goals often keeps us from glancing back to see the goals we’ve passed by. I normally wouldn’t look back but when SLATE COLLECTION asked me to write a post about balancing work and life, it forced me to sit back and reflect as well as share some goals for moving forward. So I thought I’d share with you five things I’ve learned since striking out on my own.

Certainly none of this is ground breaking, there are mountains of business books with more wisdom, but it’s meant to inspire that anyone can reach their goals with enough effort. It’s also there to help you trust your gut, your instincts.

  1. Trust your gut and your talents.

    No one knows you better than yourself. Put your faith in your abilities and focus in on your talents. If you’re passionate about something, that enthusiasm will be contagious and pull clients or customers toward you. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.

  2. Recognize your weaknesses and shortcomings.

    It’s one thing to know what you’re good at, it’s another to know what skills you lack. Then go and find the best people to help you fill those gaps. We knew immediately that we needed help with legal and tax matters. It was the first thing we put money towards and was the best decision we ever made. Our CPA is like a life-line whenever one of those scary IRS envelopes appears in the mailbox.

  3. Own your mistakes.

    Then make them right.Mistakes are going to happen. It’s easier if you just accept that at the beginning. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. But instead of letting them linger and cause anxiety, I’ve found it’s easier to address them head-on by acknowledging the mistake, apologizing for it and then making it right. Even if things don’t end up working out, I always feel better after doing all three.

  4. Take on the RIGHT projects.

    Lots of people will tell you to only work on things that excite you but that’s a load of bull. We all have to work on things that aren’t going to be the most exciting, the most glamourous, the most fun. But those “pay the bills” projects can sometimes teach you the most. They can offer learning experiences or allow you to meet someone who might help you down the road. It’s also important to say ‘no’ to projects that aren’t right. Sometimes personalities or needs just don’t match up and that’s okay. Tell them you’re not the right fit while pointing them in the direction of people who may be able to help them out. Everyone wins.

  5. Stay organized.

    Clutter is chaos for me. I keep my inbox as close to zero as possible. I try to put systems in place for all facets of our business and I always try to keep my work bag organized.  I clean it out almost every morning. Trashing old receipts, filing papers where they need to go and putting things back in their place. This SLATE COLLECTION Ballard Tote has really elevated my game lately … did you see that monogram? I feel so professional.

I’m going to gush on this SLATE COLLECTION Ballard Tote for a quick second because I do really love it. It’s one of the only work bags I’ve tried that fits 15″ MacBook. A lot of bags will fit a 13″ inch computer but it’s harder to find totes that comfortably fit a larger laptop. I went with the black because it makes it easy to go from work to weekend. I just pull-out my computer and planner when I get home and then load it up with kids junk for evenings or weekends. It’s also really light-weight (without the laptop) and the leather is really lush. I’m eyeing the matching Freemont Pouch to help keep all my random nonsense organized.

When my bag is organized, I feel like I have everything together (even if it’s all just hanging on by a thread). If my bag is organized and my car is clean, which happens VERY RARELY,  I feel like a superhero. It’s a fleeting feeling but one worth savoring. It’s another little victory. One of the many we often forget as we move through the day.

What little victories have you overlooked lately? Would love for you to share them in the comments, or over on Instagram or Facebook. We could all use a pat on the back, or just the hands clapping and champagne popping emoji, every now and then.

Thank you to SLATE COLLECTION for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

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