The lessons I’ve learned in business so far are endless. Being self-taught, I’ve had to learn a lot through trial and error. It’s my mission to help serve other small business owners, so I gathered a short list of the top 5 most important lessons I’ve learned since I started in business.
When I first started my business this was very tough for me. I didn’t have a boss telling me where to be at what time or what to do. It was all up to me. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted all the time. If I wanted to binge watch something on Netflix, I could (and I often did.) I didn’t have roommates and wasn’t living with a significant other. There wasn’t anyone holding me accountable. I didn’t have friends in the area checking in with me, I didn’t have a community, and I just wasn’t great at managing my time.
I felt like I was working a lot. I told my dad one day, “Man, I am putting in a lot of hours and there’s not a lot of return for all of this.” Then I realized I was pretending to work a lot. I’d be on my computer, I’d have a bunch of tabs open and bounce between them. But I wasn’t always actually getting the work done. I started a lot of projects, but didn’t always finish them.
Many of my friends from school had moved on to 9-5 jobs. They couldn’t relate with me, and I couldn’t relate with them.
I had become addicted to the next like, comment, or share on Facebook rather than focusing on income producing activities. As I have matured as a person and become a better business owner, I realize I have to focus on three things that have to be done everyday. After accomplishing the daily tasks, I can then move forward on other tasks throughout the rest of the day. I use the accountability software in Asana where I can brain dump tasks, sort them by category and assign them to the KRose team members. I can put in my own responsibilities and my team can assign tasks they need from me.
Just because there’s a lot of time doesn’t mean I have to spend it constantly pretending to work. Instead I work super hard to achieve productivity and then take a break.
I am a terrible money manager when left to my own devices. I have paid so many overdraft fees that it hurts my heart looking back. I always thought I could outwork my stupidity, as I believe a lot of creatives do. I didn’t work on a budget, I used credit cards when I shouldn’t, and I had student loan debt hanging over my head.
I thought since I was producing income I could just work a little bit harder the next week to make up for irresponsible spending. I had the “I’ll take care of that debt eventually, but not today,” mindset. I have found that this just doesn’t work. I now live on a very strict budget. I have a company and a personal budget I work out every month and I stick to both budgets. I have an accountability partner who checks in and makes sure I’m staying on top of everything. I highly recommend having an accountability partner, someone who knows the ins and outs of your budget, looks it over every month, and checks in weekly on your progress.
It’s crucial you understand all the expenses of running your business. I see a lot of small business owners who don’t account for all the factors when pricing a service. They don’t account for PayPal fees, the hours they have to sit down with the client before the project starts, and all the other expenses you pay in order to have the tools needed to complete the project. They bid projects based just on the time they spend. If you’re one of these people, I want to encourage you to raise your prices today.
I used to be one of those people. But overtime we realized the hits we were taking by not considering these extra expenses. Now we have our pricing models factor in meetings before, during, and after the project, mileage I drive, anytime I buy a customer coffee, etc. We have a “How to Price your Product” we will be offering in the Acceleration Nation during the month of November.
Adding team members has been one of the best things I’ve done as a business owner. I am humbled and honored that these incredible humans want to work for me.
My team and I were just in Kalispell for a company retreat. When I looked around the room, I saw these intelligent women. They’re hungry. They’re honest. They’re dedicated. They see the passion of this business, the lives it can change and the freedom we can offer people by helping them earn an extra $1000 a month or helping take the marketing off their plate so they can spend more time with their kids.
The owner of the business is like the shepherd watching their flock at night. They can see above the sheep where they are going. They understand where water and the next opportunity lies on the horizon and they see the end goal ahead. A manager is like a good sheep dog. They come in and make small changes to the flock to keep them headed where the shepherd wants them to go. They are constantly running back and forth, adjusting things such as productivity and goals to get the flock to the destination. You have to have some lead ewes and that’s who I have hired.
If you’re looking to add a team member, my advice is to hire the very best. The lead ewes will always find their way. If the shepherd disappears or the manager takes a break, the lead ewes will always find their way. If you have a team of lead ewes like I do, you will see your success blossom. I know if I stepped away and needed maternity leave or got sick and ended up in the hospital, they’re going to take the reigns. They’re going to hold each other accountable and are proud to work for me, which is so humbling. They will take the reigns and get the work done because they are invested in this company. I’m not just a paycheck to them. They truly love what they do and I know this because they consistently show up. They show up with new ideas and ambition. They show up every week for team meetings.
If you’re going to add a team member, don’t just get a sheep. Make sure they’re lead ewes. Are they smart? Are they hungry? Do they care about your overall mission? Are they willing to put some skin in the game to get some reward?
You become like the people you hang around with the most and I never want to be the smartest person in the room. That can be hard to say from a boss’s perspective since most of the big decisions come from me. But I want team members who are so smart in their zone of genius that they’re smarter in that area than myself. I want team members who are honest, hungry, dedicated, have work/life balance, and are polite and considerate to my customers. I spend the majority of my time connecting with my team members. I’m going to become more like them and they’re going to become more like me. I hope I have traits they admire and look up to, but they all have traits I admire and would like to implement in my own life.
It’s OK to fail
I told my team from the very beginning, it’s OK to fall forward on your face as long as you get back up and keep trekking forward. I firmly believe we are the best ag marketing company in the U.S. We are cutting down the trees and paving the path for others to follow. There are going to be times when we look up and realize we made a wrong turn. In order to be great, you have to take some risks.
If you are waiting for your competition to do something successfully and then follow, you’re not going to be coming up with fresh, new ideas. If you want to be the expert, the lead in the industry, you have to be willing to try new ideas and possibly fail. You have to insert that mindset into your team. We can fail as long as we learn from it and can take something back to our tribe to say, “This doesn’t work and here is the reason why.” If you’re going to be a leader, you must take calculated risks and track your progress. By failing, you just found one way it doesn’t work and can cross that one off the list. With our mentality, we are going to teach you everything we have learned so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.
You always have to do the right thing
It sounds cheesy, I know. I’m super simple. We’re all taught that from a young age to do the right thing. To give you a good example, if someone prices their calves to me for $1.70 a pound for 500 pounds and the market is $1.80, I call and tell them I sold their calves for $1.79, they are going to do business with me year after year. Yes, I could have made a lot of extra money. But it wouldn’t have been the right thing.
To give you another sheep analogy: you can shear your sheep every year, but you can only skin them once. Make sure you’re shearing the sheep by serving your customers really well even if there’s an opportunity to skin it. Once you skin the sheep: game over.
We want to be known for our dedication and our honesty. If we do the right thing every time, we get the opportunity again the next year. That’s what matters to us. We don’t want to play the dirty game of skinning all the time. We want to shear the sheep and let the wool grow back every single year.
In this fast paced world, integrity is a missing link often. I want to encourage you in your business practices to hold yourself and your team members to that standard.
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