This is an exciting week here, as I am celebrating my 9 year anniversary of starting this company and being an entrepreneur!  In today’s world, being in business for 9 years makes your business established and old… as many entrepreneurs don’t get past year 2 or 3.
 
What started out as a small idea to just have something to keep me busy, has evolved into a full-fledged marketing agency.  I have been blessed with experiences and clients who have become near and dear to me.  It’s amazing to look back at this journey and see how this business has evolved and how I have grown as a result of it.
 
Most people know that being an entrepreneur can be exhausting!  In my “previous life” of neuropsychology and administrative healthcare… I had one job. I had specific hours I worked. I could come home at night and turn it all off.  That’s not exactly the life of an entrepreneur!  We wear so many hats… CEO, marketing, accountant, sales, advertising, worker bee, negotiator, and so many more.  It can be hard to keep things going and in all honesty, sometimes you wonder why you put forth the effort.
 
But then you take a look at the big picture and realize you would never have it any other way.  The long days (and nights), the good clients and the ones who are a little more challenging, the frustrations and the triumphs… they all equal to something that you have built on your own and made successful.  In the end, it’s all worth it!
 
Are there things I would have changed? Absolutely!  Are there things I didn’t do that I wish I did?  Of course!  It’s all part of the learning process.  But in the long run, I know that this company is here because of a lot of blood, sweat and tears and lessons learned along the way.
 

Here are 9 key lessons I have learned in the last 9 years…

Keep learning – There is nothing constant in this world and in an age of technology, you have to keep learning.  I purposely looked for certifications with companies that aligned with my business, so I could stay on top of what was going on in my industry.  Some of these companies include Infusionsoft, DigitalMarketer, Memberium, PlusThis and more.  You must keep learning, no matter what industry you are in.  Keep seeking that knowledge every day.
 
It’s okay to fail – Learning that failure was actually okay was a hard lesson to learn.  It’s a rare in business to hit a home-run when launching a product or service.  Most ideas end up going through multiple versions or in the wastebasket all together.  I took failure VERY personally.  It took me a long time to learn that failure taught me something every single time.  Maybe my timing wasn’t good.  Maybe what I thought was a great idea my clients thought was unnecessary.  Maybe my pricing was off.  Regardless of the issue, you take every failure as a chance to look at what happened and learn where you need to go next.
Don’t compare yourself to others – I am very guilty of this! Over the last 9 years, I would look at other people in the business who seemed super successful.  They would launch a new product or service and it would rocket.  They always seemed to have their act together.  Then the light bulb came on. I started asking them questions about how they were succeeding. And they would admit that it was strictly their “outward appearance.”  They were struggling just as much as I was… but they were putting on their successful face.  This was an eye-opener for me and taught me to make my own goals and measure my success against my goals… not what others were doing.
Don’t be afraid to try something new – There were plenty of times when a client or potential client would call and say “I want to do X… can you help me?”  Often “X” involved some new process or software that I didn’t know.  I would tell them “of course I can help!” and then would figure out how.  Of course, there are some limitations to saying “Yes,” which leads me straight into…
Learn to say no – This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.  My personality type is “caretaker” and my whole life, I was taught to always “give”.  There are so many times that I agreed to projects or took on a client that wasn’t a good fit.  I knew it in my gut when I first said “yes,” but I didn’t have the courage to say “no.”  In the long run, I learned to trust my instincts and to say “no” when it was appropriate.
It’s okay to fire clients – Many people are shocked when they hear me say this.  At one point of my business, I didn’t like where my company was going.  I had hired a couple of outsourced contractors and had a lot of clients… many of whom were draining every ounce of energy I had.  I fired my outsourced contractors, fired 50% of my clients (nicely of course!) and brought the business back down to a scale of me, myself and I.  It was terrifying as I was throwing income out the door.  But it was the smartest thing I ever did in my business.
 
It’s okay to ask for help – A lot of people I know have a hard time asking for help.  I am a self-proclaimed control freak and obsessive as well.  I think I can do everything on my own… but I can’t.  I had to learn that it was okay to reach out and ask others for help, advice, guidance or redirection.
Align yourself with people who believe in you – It hasn’t been all roses in the last 9 years.  There have been many times where I was struggling and was wondering why I was doing this.  Add in the folks around you (friends, family, etc) who don’t understand why you have this underlying drive and there can be a lot of negative push back.  So align yourself with some key people who support you in what you are doing.  I have a handful of key people that are my cheerleaders and I don’t know how I would have made it this far without them.
And most importantly… Believe in yourself! – I have a sign in my office that reads “Doubt kills more Dreams than Failure ever will.”  This sign is hung on the wall directly opposite my desk so I have to look at it every day.  I am a great self-doubter and it is a daily reminder to believe in myself, my skills and my dreams!

No matter what… always believe in yourself.  You were put on this earth with talents, skills and traits unique to you. You CAN make an impact on the world around you!

What lessons have you learned over the years? Feel free to comment below.