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How I Am Building My Business Differently This Time

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The first time I ran a business, I was working full time for an IT company, had a 7 month old daughter, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Two years later, I am starting a business from scratch, this amazing organization, and here are a few takeaways I’ve noticed between the two.

Not Doing It Alone

Partner

The first time around, I didn’t have partners, mentors, or really any supporters. All my close friends and family thought I was crazy, and after a few dark months, I did too. The Women Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners Bryan/College Station Facebook group, which is also where I met my current partner, Amelia McCracken, who runs a design and marketing agency called Ment which employs & mentors college students. I loved her vision for her company, needed her skills to grow this idea, and honestly, I was done of doing it alone. Although we may get a little lazy sometimes, and it’s not quite like having a coach, there is still that accountability every time we meet to have things done.

Collaborations

I feel like I didn’t know a soul here two years ago. My network was limited to coworkers from my past two jobs, my in-laws, and one best friend. I also didn’t have the confidence then to reach out to other business owners in complementary industries to boost my reach.

Now, I actively search for businesses who have the same target market as me and offer complimentary products with the same vision of helping women entrepreneurs be successful. This has led to collaborations with Suites on 6 {Link} to host our Launch Party since we don’t have a physical location, as well as a relationship with the Small Business Development Center so that we can help shape the resources and classes provided by our local office. 

Networking

As mentioned above, my network last time around was seriously limited. This time around, I have taken matters into my own hand by hosting my own networking events, like Lunch Bunch, and attending other events with specific goals in mind, such as:

  • Offer support to a group member
  • Offer to speak at the next event
  • Meet someone who can help me with X, or who I can help

Not all networking events are created the same. Attend the ones your target market attends, like playdates or moms’ night outs if you are targeting moms and families. Networking doesn’t have to be boring and stuffy. Meet people where they are, and you’re doing it. It’s as simple as striking up a conversation at the park or the coffee shop.  

Going In With A Plan

Business Plan

Many entrepreneurs will tell you that being overwhelmed and working long hours is the only way they can keep up with it all. What if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? I learned over the course of the past two years that you can waste a lot of time going in a thousand different directions and never getting to enjoy the freedom you created for yourself.

This time, we were forced to write out a business plan for the insurance company to categorize us properly. We had already been working on one, but this really forced us to look at the revenue streams we wanted to target, the ones with the biggest impact and product margins. 

We are now able to focus on the four main revenue streams we identified, we know exactly what our next moves are, what our timeline needs to be to keep growing, and how much profit we can expect to make once we really get this going. It really was a beautiful thing to put together, and it has laid out a clear plan for moving forward – and that, my friends, is priceless.

Develop Processes

I used to develop processes at my old gig in IT, creating workflows and automating as much as possible so that no human involvement (and error) would be necessary. When I bought the daycare, I got overwhelmed so fast that I didn’t put a single process in place. Things were a mess for a long time, fees racked up, and every time taxes rolled around, it was a scramble to get the money together. 

Now, I know that the best way to save time down the road is to put in the time now. Once something seems repetitive, like writing checks by hand monthly or quarterly, or answering the same answers via email or phone, write those things down for future automation. 

Once you have a list of repetitive things taking up your time, you can either automate it, outsource it, or batch it. Keep the processes simple, start with the basics, and get things off of your to-do list for good. Taking the time up-front to put these core things into place will save you so much time and headache later on. 

Automating & Batch

From hiring a new employee, to billing a new client, or leading them down a sales funnel, the tedious tasks tend to consume a lot of time and man-power. What if you could automate employee on-boarding, sending sales quote, or scheduling meetings automatically? It’s all a lot easier than you think.

  1. Write down the things that are the most time consuming, or simply the ones you really dislike doing.
  2. Use tools like Zapier {Link}, G Suite {Link}, Mailchimp {Link}, Calendly {Link}, Hootsuite {Link} and Plann {Link}  make it simple to automate scheduling, sales email, and social media posting.
  3. Set up a time daily to check on new scheduled meetings, important email, and to engage on social media. Don’t let these things distract you throughout the day. Let the automation do the work for you.

Taking Care Of Myself First And Foremost

Physical

A huge difference between then and now is how much importance I’m choosing to put on taking care of myself now. Running a business is anxiety inducing, overwhelming, and can lead to a lot of changes like a lack of routine. It is really easy to let the days waste away, only to end up scrolling through social media all night and forgoing going to sleep early, only to wake up with a panic attack the next morning.

This time around, I prioritize sleep and rest as my number one. I listen to my body, rest when it says to, and somehow manage to still be extremely productive overall. When I’m tired, everything else goes down the drain. 

Mindset

A common theme of the business and self-development books I read is that entrepreneurs have to take care of themselves, first and foremost, because so much depends on their health. Working yourself into sickness or burnout isn’t doing anyone any good. 

The more tired you are (see above), the more likely you are to have negative thoughts and less energy to do things like meditate or exercise. Guess what, it’s all related. The healthier you are, the more energy you have, and with that, you have the mental toughness to get through more. 

Take care of your body and mental health, and you will be rewarded tenfold by what it can do when it is running at high capacity.

So there you go! My top 8 things I am doing differently with business number two. I’ve learned so much from my first business, and continue to do so every day. I hope you can apply what I’ve learned into your first business so that you can enjoy the journey right from the start. What’s the top thing you’ve learned from being your own boss?