Yesterday, we had a great call with an entrepreneur who just two months ago took the leap from a corporate job to starting her own business. The call was awesome. She’s just getting started, and you could hear the excitement in her voice as she described her new venture and her vision for the next year and even three years down the road. It was fun to help her start thinking aspirationally about her future and what that might look like.
That conversation brought us back to that moment in OrangeBall when we were just launching and figuring things out. Reflecting for a moment, here are five things we wish we knew then that we can see clearly now…
- The business you start with today will be different in the future. You will grow, evolve, and change. That’s part of the process! When we launched OrangeBall, our Brand Bounce Bootcamp didn’t exist. Brand messaging and strategy were not part of our core business. Over time, we developed those strengths, and the trajectory of our business changed. Today, we’re still known for website development and logos with Bounce, but we’ve matured in our business and created a whole new approach to branding that is distinctly our own.
- Yes, make it your own! Be authentic. When we got started, we modeled our business off of other successful agencies we admired. Over time, as we’ve adapted our offerings to our strengths and what our clients wanted, we’ve created a customer experience and a line of services that are unique to OrangeBall. Today, we’re no longer a copy of those other agencies we looked to in the beginning for direction. Sure, there are similarities, but now our business is driven by our own uncommon services, values, and purpose.
- Define your values and purpose early. A lot of things in your business will evolve, but your values and purpose will not. They’re foundational to why you’re doing what you’re doing and will be your north star in creating the culture of tomorrow for your business. Begin defining them on Day 1. When you understand what drives you, and what values drive your business, it will make your decision-making easier and help you measure every day if you’re moving in the direction you want.
- Find things you can measure. One of the keys to knowing if you’re making any traction is to have a set of things you can measure. Maybe it’s the number of meetings you’ve had, or possibly a financial goal you’re tracking toward. Even when you’re just getting started, having some goals you can shoot for and then simple ways to track your progress is essential. The items you’re measuring will change over time, but it’s important in the beginning to start somewhere and get into the habit of not only setting goals but also taking stock of your movement. Along those lines, don’t forget to celebrate your wins!
- Surround yourself with the right people. The world is full of people who will try to pull you down, tell you your idea is terrible, and keep you from trying something new. Find some good mentors (we have a few great ones) and surround yourself with a circle of people who will cheer for you AND challenge you in a positive way. You don’t need “yes” people in your circle — let them poke holes in your ideas to help make them better. But, make sure they’re people who see big-picture and will lift you up rather than dragging you down.
- BONUS! Last, but not least, silence your inner critic. As much as other people can drag you down, the loudest voice may be your own. “I’m not good enough. What if this doesn’t work? What if they don’t like me? I should just give up.” That voice is not a reflection of reality; it’s a megaphone for your fears and insecurities. And, it’s wrong. Stand up to your inner critic, grab the megaphone away from it, and start talking to yourself about all the reasons you can and should go for it!
Some of these are ideas people eventually shared with us, and some are things we’ve learned over the past seven years. In either case, they are the concepts we wish we had discovered earlier on as entrepreneurs.
The biggest takeaway from the list above is this… It’s a journey. Business is a journey, life is a journey, and we’re all on it. In those moments when you feel like you’re the only one figuring this out as you go, you’re not. We’re all in this together, walking slightly different paths, but learning day by day.
Enjoy the journey, and pick one thing from this list that you’ll focus on over the coming weeks!
Originally published at https://www.orangeballcreative.com on June 5, 2019.