5 Lessons You Learn in the First Year of Business
While sipping an Americano in a local coffee shop last summer, I made a decision that would change my life. I decided to take my little lifestyle blog and turn it into a business. Back then, I was young and dumb and I didn’t realize the magnitude of what I was about to do. It has been officially one year since Bourbon & Honey went from being a blog to a business. And it has been an incredibly tough, but wonderfully beautiful year. Not only have I been able to support my wonderful family of clients to tell their stories, but I have been able to collaborate with some of the best business owners in the city, and launch a dream project – Bloom Co. Since its humble beginnings as a blog, it has since become a way to inspire, support and educate women entrepreneurs as they build their businesses.
I’ve consumed dozens of Americanos since, added some awesome clients to the family, launched a magazine and learned some valuable lessons. Here are just five of them.
Lean Into Discomfort
Whether you are pursuing your business on the side, or it’s your full-time job, discomfort is normal. And it’s good. It means you are stepping into something new and exciting. You are eschewing the status quo and moving into the unknown. Stepping into the discomfort is where you find your true grit, where you find out what you are capable of. Yes, it will feel awful in the beginning, and you may want to return to what’s comfortable, but if you press through, you’ll find that you’ve created something beautiful that was worth every ounce of discomfort.
It’s Harder Than You Think
I’ve learned that what people often only see in my business is the final product. They see the Instagram post or the article. Maybe for you, it’s an Etsy shop or a website; maybe it’s a new bath product or branding package. They don’t see the work it took to create that website. They don’t see the emails, texts, documents and design files that it took to bring your branding package to market. And when we look at business and entrepreneurship that way, it can be easy to assume that it’s easy to do. In reality, it’s incredibly difficult and requires more of you than you thought. Being in business requires you to dig a little bit deeper, think a little bit smarter and work a little bit harder. But when you do the hard work, you can look back and say, “I did that!” and relish in the benefits of your hard work.
Have a Vision
I say “have a vision” instead of “have a plan” because I don’t necessarily believe in business plans. Business changes so frequently that by the time you finish your business plan, it’s obsolete. Having a vision for your business allows you to create actionable goals and determine your roadmap for getting there. I have found more success with setting a vision and then jumping in rather than meticulously researching and planning before executing.
Find Your People
I’m not going to be the first person to tell you to “find your tribe, and love them hard.” However, it bears repeating because it is so important. There’s no way I would be where I am one year later if it weren’t for YYC Girl Gang, my business coach, my best friend and social media community. Each person’s support propelled me forward, helping me celebrate the good times and push through the difficult times.
Take Time For Yourself
In my opinion, the “hustle” is code for “burn out.” Listen, guys: it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to say no to a project to protect your time, energy and mental health. It’s vital to the success of your business – and to your life – that you take a break. It doesn’t need to be something extravagant – it could be a simple morning sipping coffee on your porch, enjoying a dinner out with friends or relaxing with some tea and a book. Whatever you do, take a step back from your business and relax. You’ll notice that you come back more refreshed and productive.
I am beyond humbled to have been given the opportunity to build a business I love and pursue projects I’ve dreamt about. What I have learned this past year cannot be neatly described in 750 words. Beyond these five core lessons, I’ve learned to (in the words of Ms. Frizzle) take chances, make mistakes and get messy. It’s what fuels my business. It’s what defines me as an entrepreneur. It’s what I am taking into the second season of Bourbon & Honey.