On 2018: Reflections of a New Business Owner

2018 has been one of the busiest years of my life and career.

In 12 short months I have started a new job, been through a significant reduction in force, two mergers, losing a job, unemployment and finishing the year with a profitable first quarter as a business owner. During this time, I also expanded my family and adopted my partner in all things including my business, my dog, Charlie.

In the most cliche manner ever, I am now going to tell you the most valuable lessons I learned through all of it.

Fake it till you make it (everyone else does). When I first started working for the Digital Marketing agency I was overwhelmed to say the least. At a big enterprise, when you do a project you spend a LOT of time planning and checking in on progress. Managing digital projects is like changing a tire while the car is moving by comparison. A big change in technique for a Project Manager. Now add about 25 projects, 20 people and the merging of three teams at once — I was in uncharted territory. My CEO reminded me that Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all at one point felt the way I did . – they had never done it before either. And now, even though there are millions of business owners all over the world and they all started somewhere, no one is running the same business as I am. All I can do is take all of the experience I have and bring it to clients who need it. I have tools, training and experience enough to carry me forward. And if that fails, I can always look at some of the mistakes I made along the way and just do the opposite of what I did before!

You will fall flat on your face (probably multiple times) and it will not be a big deal. I got fired in 2018. Even writing this makes my stomach knot up again. But it shouldn’t. Almost everyone I know has been fired once in their life and nobody died, everyone has come back from it and either learned some important lessons, or found a role that was a better fit for them. I always thought getting fired was the absolute worst thing that could happen to a person. I thought it only happened to people who “deserved it”. But now that I’ve been through it, I can honestly say it was one of the best things that ever happened. I was in a job that wasn’t a good fit, working more hours then were good for my health and most importantly, I hadn’t smiled at work in months. Once the bruises on my ego faded and I’d had some time to clear my head getting fired felt like a blessing. I spent the summer bonding with my new puppy, and shaping a future that would give me financial stability and a life and career I loved. The old cliche is true, failure is neither fatal or final (but with the right perspective it can lead to some fun).

You have more power and control then your think you do. My whole career I felt like I had to do all the right things, climb the ladder, navigate the politics and wait for the promotion or new opportunity. My salary, benefits and promotional opportunities were at the mercy of my employer. I learned the benefit of having multiple revenue streams, not putting all my eggs in one basket and using every talent I had (while discovering new ones). This year was really about stepping into my own power and being clear when something wasn’t working for me while asking for more of the things that were working well.

The hustle is important but other things are more important. Adopting a puppy changes your world in ways you can’t even begin to imagine if you’ve never owned a dog. Charlie demanded tons of playtime, loves being outdoors (when it’s 75 degrees and sunny), and watching him experience new things brings me joy like I’ve never experienced. One of my fondest memories was the last warm day this year. We closed the office – put on every auto responder we have and just enjoyed an afternoon out and about in our neighborhood. I never would have been able to do this if I still had a traditional 9 to 5.

You don’t have to be the best at anything you just have to do it – In a similar vein to done is better than perfect, you don’t have to wait until you’ve won all the awards or gotten all of the certifications to make a change. Skills transfer, mentors are always available and going back to lesson number one, sometimes it’s okay to fake it until you make it. (As long as you’re taking calculated and strategic risks and have some manner of safety net).

I ended 2018 on a very high note, a full client roster heading into the new year, a great relationship with my new puppy and a plan to hit aggressive personal, professional and financial goals in 2019. I am looking forward to working with new clients and partners as I continue to learn and grow my business.

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