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5 key lessons I learnt in business during 2021

5 key lessons I learnt in business during 2021

There is nothing impossible to they who will try.

– Alexander the Great

Hello & welcome 2022!

Once again we welcome in a brand new year whilst saying goodbye to a year that has been filled with many triumphs and challenges.

Now I wouldn’t say that the last year has been easy (after all we were all still having to deal with the realities of a pandemic) however, for me, it was a year of growth both personally and professionally.

There’s nothing quite like running a business through such difficult times to test your limits, boundaries, resilience and tenacity. There have been many moments of self-doubt and fear as I embarked on what was perhaps my most testing year to date, but the truth is that despite all the ups and downs, last year was one of the best years I have experienced in business.

Now at the start of 2022, I look back at last year feeling a sense of pride, excitement and joy at what I’ve achieved.

At the start of 2021, having experienced what digital courses and digital products could do for my business, I decided to transition the company into this field so that our team could support clients in creating passive revenue streams for their businesses.

It’s a perfect addition to the services Pink Lemon already provides as, not only can we help with the extensive branding and web services we offer, but we can also continue to support our clients by helping them to successfully monetise their brand online.

At the start of the pandemic I realised that, as a service provider, I was heavily reliant on clients to generate revenue. I was spending most of my time finding new clients to pay the bills, rather than focusing on expanding my offering and doing what I really love.

Whilst in lockdown I realised that the way I was running my business was not sustainable and so something had to change if I wanted to realise my long-term vision. I started to consider other ways of running my business and working out how I could create passive revenue streams to provide me with more financial and creative freedom.

So far my move in this direction has been very successful and so I wanted to share with you the 5 key lessons I learnt in business last year.

1. Mindset is everything

And I mean EVERYTHING!!!

Something that I have learnt is that it really doesn’t matter what your goals are, if your mind is not there, you will struggle to achieve them.

In business, I believe it’s vital to cultivate a strong growth mindset so that we are open to taking risks and learning from failures. This can be really scary of course, but I do believe that it is a necessary part of growth. If we stay in our comfort zone, we will never be able to push past our fears and find our true passion.

The truth is that ‘failure’ doesn’t really exist, because when things don’t go to plan, we learn a lesson and we start again. We only truly ‘fail’ when we stop trying. Reframing how you view failure will help you to develop a mindset for success.

2. Perfection doesn’t exist

Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, which makes it subjective, and so we may therefore posit that it too doesn’t exist.

How many times have you been crippled by the need to deliver perfection? For me, I can honestly say, a lot.

We see people doing what we do, but earning more money or getting more recognition, and we view them as ‘perfect’, but that’s simply a fear response. The truth is that these ‘perfect’ people have worked just as hard as us behind the scenes.

Perhaps they’ve been doing it longer than us, perhaps they’ve been especially lucky, perhaps they’ve simply hit upon the ‘right’ way for them a little sooner than most, but sit down for a chat and you’ll soon find that they have been just as concerned with their imagined imperfections as you!

The key here is, once more, your mindset. Throw away the idea that everything has to be perfect, and realise that you simply need to do the best that you can at any given moment.  

3. Build a strong team

No man is an island and one lone person cannot make a successful business. Even if you are a solopreneur you still need a little help. Whether this is in the form of an accountant, a VA, a designer or even just a friend to act as a sounding board, you must never make the mistake of thinking you have to do everything yourself.

The biggest error people make when establishing a new business is trying to save money by doing everything themselves. If you don’t know much about building websites you can use a cheap DIY platform to set one up, but guess what… it will look cheap. It will devalue your service and will drive away potential customers.

In the long run, it’s really not worth it. There are a host of services available to help start-ups fund their new companies, so look into this aspect before trying to go it completely alone.

4. Always start with the end in mind

 
Know what you are trying to achieve and then work back from there. Define your vision, create your roadmap and outline your goals.
 
This is something I talk about a lot and it’s the first thing I establish when I meet with a new client. If your goals for your business are vague then you won’t be able to define a clear set of actions to take. If this is the case then you’ll end up simply running a business rather than developing one and you’ll never reach your potential, financial or otherwise.
 
For some people this can be an acceptable path, but for the true entrepreneur this way of working will feel stilted and frustrating. It’s worth taking the time to define your goals and, once you have, break them down into a few sentences, or even a few words, display them somewhere prominent in your home or office and refer to them daily in order to maintain focus and drive.

5. Stop worrying about what other people think

 
There are some people who will always judge others. Sometimes this is because they are jealous of other people’s success, sometimes it’s because they are so sure of their own path that they cannot bear to see people do things differently. People like this are a minority, but when we’re running a business we often feel as though those judging eyes are everywhere we look.
 
This self-consciousness can have a massive negative impact on us and our business, even though, rationally, we know that most of the people we deal with are firmly on our side.
 
The trick is not to assume that everyone is rooting for us (because we know there will always be those few who aren’t) but to make a conscious decision not to pay attention to nay-sayers.
 
At the end of the day, the only person who can judge you is you, and if you determine to treat yourself with kindness and respect then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

Summary

So those are my 5 key lessons for starting (or upgrading!) a business. They may seem straightforward, but they’re things that many of us forget to consider once we get caught up in the mundanity of running a business. Hopefully seeing them here in black and white will help you to step back and re-evaluate things, and January is a good month for re-evaluation!
 
So does anything I’ve said here resonate with you? I hope so, and I hope that they can provide a jumping-off point for you as we head into the New Year. 
5 Key Lessons I learnt during 2021
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Finding your inner confidence

Finding your inner confidence

“Don’t regret the past or fear the future. Both bring misery through self-doubt.”

– Deepak Chopra

Even the most outwardly confident of people have a little voice in their heads that tells them they ‘can’t’ – for some people åthat voice is so loud that they simply don’t try new things, whether it’s a new class at the gym, a new shade of lippy or a new arm to their business. So where does that little voice come from and what can we do to silence it?

Well, first of all we need to realise that actually we don’t want to silence that voice; we simply want to negotiate with it! You see there’s a part of our brain called the limbic system. We have our cognitive functions at the front of our brains: the reasoning, the logic, the explanation of behaviour etc, but we also have our limbic system, which is responsible for keeping us safe and is very much tied in with our emotional responses.

So for example, in prehistoric times we’d have to be constantly on the lookout for predators, so we’d be in a heightened state of anxiety: our limbic system is what takes control of that vigilance – that alertness. That’s why we have an inbuilt adrenaline response: the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ response. We needed that to survive. We needed to be on guard. 

Unfortunately, our brains now see all stress as potential threats. For example, we’re caught in traffic and late for a meeting. We’re not going to die of, but we still get the same stress response: our heart beats faster, we sweat, and our mouths go dry. Essentially our body shuts down all extraneous systems and prepares us to run away. When we can’t run away (from the traffic jam, or mortgage or doctor’s appointment or whatever else), these symptoms simply stay with us to a greater or lesser extent. Our brains don’t realize that our society has evolved. 

Unfortunately the limbic system doesn’t care if you’re depressed, it doesn’t care if you’re anxious. If you’re either of those things, you’re going to stay physically safe.

So our job is to recognise this. To say to the limbic system “thank you so much. I know you’re really trying to keep good care of me. But you know what? I’ve looked at the risk of this – I’ve assessed it. And I’m going to be alright. I can handle this”

Imposter syndrome

The limbic system is also responsible for something called ‘imposter syndrome’. Imposter syndrome can occur if you get promoted, if you get an award, if you change schools, go to college and you feel like you’ve got there through pure luck (even though that’s almost certainly not true). You feel a sense of constant guilt, you feel like a fraud and you feel like you’re going to get found out. You feel like you’re deceiving people.

Research suggests that around 70 percent of people have felt imposter syndrome, but surely 70 percent of us can’t be called be frauds? of course not:  it’s just another one of those lies that our anxious brain tells us.  Quite often it is just a natural reaction to change. But once we appreciate that, we can take steps to move away from it or at least understand it.

You see, what confident people do really well, is they allow themselves to feel comfortable. They know that if they fail in something, they are not actually a failure: It’s just another learning opportunity. Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable because they know it doesn’t define them. Fear is experienced when you are visualizing something going badly. When that moment that you’ve dreaded happens (if it ever does, and let’s be honest, things are rarely as bad as you think they’re going to be) more often than not, you react, you get on with it. 

So say, for example, you’re doing a presentation: You walk into the room and you trip over and fall flat on your face. Disaster? Well, not really. Think about it: what would you do? You’re not just going to lie there. You’re not going to start your presentation from the floor! You react in the moment. You get up, you apologise, you ask for help, for a glass of water, you find a seat. You shake it off. 

And be honest, if you saw your speaker fall and get straight back up you’d feel awful for them – but you’d be pretty impressed! Even if they turned around and said “I’m sorry, I’m hurt, I’m going to have to reschedule. You still wouldn’t judge them. You wouldn’t bad mouth them or think they couldn’t do their job. You’d admire them.

So the important thing is knowing that whatever happens to you, you can handle it. If you do keep picturing a worst case scenario, the best thing you can do is accept that worry and plan how to deal with it if it happens. “If X happens, I will do this” Then you can say to yourself:  I’ve got a plan for the worst and and now I’m going to visualize the best. Now I’ve dealt with all the bad stuff. I’m going to visualize this good thing happening. I’m going to program my subconscious brain for positive stuff, for the stuff I want. 

How does this apply to me?

If you are planning to create a digital course, then the first thing to do is make sure that it’s something you are passionate about. Remember your why .Why are you doing it in the first place? Recognising that this is going to be tough is important. It’s your livelihood. Your future. So remember why you are doing it in the first place. 

The next thing is understanding that fear is a natural part of any change. You need fear for growth. You have to push past your comfort zone. So fear is natural. It’s absolutely natural, and again; what is the worst that can happen? 

Say, for example, you get criticized. Do you think the criticism is valid? If the criticism is valid then that’s great. Change what needs changing, make the amendments that you need and then send it off again. What else might you need to change? Are you going for the right market? What do your sales look like? how’s your market? Is it working for you?

Finally, you need to be aware that you’re doing an amazing thing. You’re creating something unique, and it’s your passion. Yes. It might be tough, but what an amazing experience. If you think “What can I learn from this? Then you immediately open yourself up to new opportunities.

It’s all about being kind to yourself and just realizing that you’re allowed to be scared. We need our limbic system – if we weren’t scared we’d step off the nearest cliff just to see what would happen! But if you accept that fear, assess your risks and take your time, you can quieten that little voice and let your inner confidence shine!

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