Oh what I wish I could tell baby business owner Ashley… I grew up with entrepreneur parents. They have owned a Party’s City franchise since I was 5, and were also figure skating coaches much of my growing up. I knew you could go work somewhere but that just wasn’t what was modeled for me.
What I saw was flexibility, working from home, & being with your family. Thinking back, I now remember the times my parents would work well past when we went to bed, or in busy seasons we pretty much lived at their office, camped out in their office coloring, watching movies, or probably playing in the costumes. Eventually, we helped on the sales floor and stockroom when we were old enough. I loved nothing more than when my mom would let us price sticker items! I knew the hard work and hustle they were putting in but I also saw the flexibility it allowed them to be a real part of my sister and I’s lives and really never miss much. I knew this was what I wanted one day.
My business owner dreams have looked like many things over the years. Growing up, I wanted to own my own dance studio, teach & choreograph for a living. My dance career was cut short because of an injury so I needed to come up with a new dream. For a while I didn’t know what that would be. I then went to work for local boutique, and thought I would take over that business one day. Then an amazing direct sales opportunity came into my life, and I was in the top 2% of that company for 4 years.
Again, my life was changing and then chance to purchase the wedding planning company I had been working for presented itself and with some prayer, hope, and bated breath, we purchased it. I am in transition again & expanding my passions. So I share all of that so you know where I have come from.
In the beginning, I was overwhelmed, excited, and overwhelmed. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Everything was a learning experience. I did know great customer service, and how to sell. Everything else was trial and error. Business ownership is sort of like that right? You try, test, evaluate and try again. So here are the things I wish I had known in the beginning:
- This is amazing but not worth the cost of your health and relationships. By nature, I am a achiever. I am a goal setter, a doer, a people pleaser, and probably a workaholic. I come by all these things naturally. I am parent’s child. In the beginning, I was working all hours, all the time, whenever, wherever. I wish I had set clear boundaries for myself and my clients from the very beginning. What pushed me over the edge was in 2015, a client’s mother in law who would text me in the middle of the night, all the time. I got an office phone, and set firm office hours.
- You are not going to know everything & you don’t need to. As entrepreneurs, you are wearing alot of hats. When you don’t have a sales department, PR, marketing department, client manager, HR, and all other corporate type of things, guess what? YOU ARE ALL THOSE PEOPLE. I don’t think I really realized that. I knew I would be planning weddings, & having to sell my services, but I really didn’t think of all the other roles I’d be filling and how would I balance all of that. As I kept working, I realized I needed help & that didn’t make me a failure. Don’t be a hero–you don’t need to do it all. When you can, start identifying the things that aren’t your strongest skills or of interest to you & then decide the best way to outsource them. I also encourage you to find the things in your personal life you can outsource. It may just mean hiring a personal assistant to run errands that you don’t need to be the person to do them. I have a house cleaner 2x a month, and often order our groceries. This buys my time back to let me focus on the things I do need to be the person to do.
- STOP BUYING EVERY COURSE, PROGRAM, AND THEN NOT FOLLOW THROUGH. Ok so I am a business educator telling you not to buy things from business educators…I recognize this isn’t the best sales strategy. But what I really mean is stop buying fluff, or things you are NEVER going to follow through on. It is a waste of your money and resources. At the beginning of the year, I evaluate the years goals, ideas, plans, and schedule. I then find the places I might need help, or to learn more in. I also know the times of the year that I need inspiration, recharge, and excitement and those are good times for me to go to conferences or in person learning opportunities. You don’t need FOMO about all the things you may or may not be going to, learning, groups you are missing out on. Just because Sally is doing it doesn’t mean you have to(sound too mom like??). You do you boo.
- Find a mentor. Find a mentor immediately. A mentor is someone you are engaged in a coaching relationship with of some kind. This could look like weekly in person meetings, or bi-weekly phone calls, or mostly via email communication. But find someone who knows more than you, is committed to your business, you, and your education. Mentors & coaches have changed my life. I have had a few bad ones where I really didn’t get what I was expecting but the great ones, have literally changed my life and business!
Ok what would have told yourself in the beginning or what do you wish you knew?