- Ali Klug
8 Things I Learned As a Business Owner This Year
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
Congrats! We’ve made it another rotation around the sun!
While that might not be anything super exciting for the ordinary Joe’s out there, this year has been unique for me as I took my first trip around the sun as a business owner--and made the journey safely, only adding 3 pounds of stress weight and my first gray hair!
I think that’s pretty good, right? (Ah, the joys of being human!)
Anyway, as I reflect back on this year, there are a few key things I learned as both a business person and a human that I want to share.
It’s my hope that these concepts will be thought-provoking and possibly even helpful to you, regardless of whether you own a company, are in school, or currently work under someone else.
Let’s dive in...
#1 - Know your worth...or people will take advantage of you.
It’s SO hard. SO SO hard to turn down work. Especially when you’re a new business owner and desperately need the income.
But, you know what’s also totally not worth it? Agreeing to write a 1,000-word blog post for $50. Or spending excess hours on a project you won’t be compensated for. Or agreeing to run a month-long Instagram campaign in exchange for 7 of your client’s grandma's knitted dish towels.
Ok, so that last one never happened to me, but you catch my drift.
When you know your worth, you’re going to have to turn down work inquiries. And while it might be tough in the moment, it’s so much more beneficial to build a network of clients who value what you do--as opposed to a collection of clients who are just trying to find the best deal.
#2 - Remember you’re not perfect...nor do you have to be.
There’s a lot of pressure when you own a business. But what I’ve come to realize is that most of that pressure is unnecessary pressure I put on myself.
Of course you need to work hard to provide quality services/products yada, yada, yada. However, I *think* that as business owners we tend to put extra stress on ourselves to do everything perfectly.
Newsflash...we are human. And, by default of being human, we’re going to fall short.
Work hard, and do your best. Say sorry, and make revisions if something doesn’t hit the mark. Honor your promises, and show your clients you care through kind words and actions.
If you’re doing those things, you’re on the right track!
#3 - Understand that you’re not the right match for everyone...and that’s ok.
There are so many times I’ve felt stupid or incapable or unworthy in my job.
And you know what...
Nine out of 10 times, it wasn’t my work ability or knowledge that was the problem. It simply boiled down to the fact that I wasn’t partnering with the right client.
Sometimes you click, and the work comes easy. Sometimes the work isn’t the right fit for you. It doesn’t mean you’re incompetent or unable.
We’re all given different gifts and talents, and sometimes your talents just don’t align with what a person needs.
Understand this, and have a conversation about how you can better serve your client in a way that won’t continually mentally exhaust yourself.
#4 - Never burn a bridge...your relationship with someone might help you down the road.
One of the best pieces of advice my previous boss gave me was to never burn a bridge with the people in your network.
It doesn’t matter if your work relationship didn’t work out. Or if someone let you down. Or if you stopped working with a person because you weren’t the right fit for each other.
Just because you no longer work together doesn’t mean you need to hold a grudge or cross the person out of your life.
I’ve discovered that work tends to come out of the most bizarre places--many jobs are through those people who you’d never expect to send work your way.
In the words of Ellen Degeneres, “Be kind to one another.”
#5 - Never be afraid to ask for work...you’re not being needy; people need your services.
I always used to think that people should approach me when it comes to asking for work. After all, I’m the business owner, and my clients are the ones who need my services.
However, over the last year I learned that it’s completely ok--and sometimes beneficial to your client--to offer extra support without their prompting.
On the months my workload tends to be lighter, I’ve started politely reaching out to clients to see if they need any additional help. To my surprise, the answer is often, “Yes! I have X, Y, Z I need to get done if you have the availability to help.”
As business owners, we are salespeople. That means we need to be constantly putting in the effort to bring new work to the table.
It never hurts to ask for more work. Worst case scenario is a client will say, “No, we don’t have anything right now.” And that’s not so bad, right?
So, in the spirit of this lesson, I’m going to ask you right now, is there anything else I can help you with this month?
I’m serious--I need the work to hit my goals for 2020, and I have the availability to take on new projects/clients. So please let me know if you’d like to work on something together by sending an email to ScribbleCopywriting@gmail.com!
(Or, get in touch here!)
See, that was pretty easy, wasn’t it?
#6 - Business relationships don’t have to be stuffy...it’s ok to have fun with people!
Some of my strongest business relationships are my relationships with clients who feel they are part of my family.
It’s kind of odd considering how, while I was in school, we were taught to have “suit and tie” relationships with people in the business world.
But here’s the truth…
Opening myself up to my clients has allowed me to build unique relationships with all of them. And, because we are able to connect on a personal level, I’m able to have real, deep, and honest conversations with them...which ultimately leads to producing better work for them!
Sure, when you first meet a new client, you might not want to attend a Zoom call in your PJs or tell the story about how your beloved hamster Charles died in a tragic vacuum accident.
But, being human instead of a stuffy robot tends to have a profound impact on client relationships.
#7 - It’s ok to say no...in fact, you should learn how to say no more often.
We all know a toddler’s favorite word is no. And if we’re wise, we’ll learn to adopt the word as a more regular part of our vocabulary.
Because it’s easy--at least for me--to say yes to things that don’t serve me in order to please other people.
For instance, when was the last time you said yes to doing a project for a fraction of your normal rate just to “help someone out.”
Or, when was the last time you said yes to promoting a product/service that you don’t necessarily agree with?
It could even be something as small as saying yes to making extra edits or revisions to a content piece that you didn’t agree to.
At first, giving into a simple yes might not seem like a big deal, but over time it can compound your stress and put extra work on your plate that you’re not getting compensated for.
Of course, on the flip side, there are occasions where a yes is ok. I simply want to remind you that it is ok to say no...and if you do say no, the world WILL keep spinning.
And if the world does stop spinning...well then, we’ll all be flung into space, and nothing will matter at that point anyway, so it’s really a win-win.
#8 - Owning a business is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting...but so worth it!
Over this last year I’ve…
Worked (so many!) weekends.
Traveled to meet amazing clients.
Had big wins.
Written amazing content assets.
Forged connections with amazing people.
Cried some more.
And as I look back, I wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world.
Yup, here comes the part where I’m going to get sappy (and possibly cry more)…
From dog trainers and online grocery store owners to naturopathic doctors and everything in between, I have a large variety of amazing clients who have supported me all the way this year.
I am forever grateful to the people who have taken a chance on me, and I can’t wait to see where we will go together in 2020!
If you’re in need of a content partner for 2020, I’d love to chat with you.
I can’t promise you perfection, but I can bring honesty, transparency, hard work, and dedication to your brand--as well as passion to the table.
Wishing you the best in 2020!
Love and blessings,