The Personal Business of Being in Business: 4 Ways to Survive Your First Year

As any new business owner knows, the first year in business is exciting, challenging, rewarding, and very scary. I would find myself questioning whether I had made the right decision, my mind whispering fears of failing into my ears. People always ask “how is your business doing”, but your answer always centers on how busy you are, how many sales, clients, projects etc. you have on the books. No-one wants to talk about the human aspect of how to manage your personal life when being in business. Below are four things I focused on in my first year to keep my head in the game.

1. Learn Ravenously

Whether it was accounting software, website design, or a new leadership concept, I was in a constant state of learning in my first year. Learning fires up your brain and mobilizes your energy. I learned everything I could and many things I didn’t think I wanted to. Learn new things, and when you do, choose to learn ravenously, embracing it with your whole head and heart.

2. Believe Those Who Believe In You

When I would lie awake at night wondering if I was crazy to do what I was doing I realized I needed to listen to those who trust me. When people celebrate your skills, honor your knowledge and respect your work, believe them. This isn’t about ego, rather, it is about recognizing that you are good at what you do. Believe it, celebrate it, and operate your business like you are worth it.

3. Be Ready

I learned this lesson early in my career and reconnected with it deeply in my first year of business. Being ready is about not waiting to start something or do something until you have the perfect job, client, project or contract. It’s about being prepared, doing what you need to do so that when a shift happens you hit the ground running. Be ready now. Build your product, hone your knowledge, know your vision inside and out, have a website, embrace social media…Do all of this so when the projects or clients or contracts show up you are ready.

4. Do Your Best Work, Always.

Another principle I used in my first year is to always do my best work. At first glance this might sound odd; however, this isn’t about specific contract work like teaching leadership courses. Rather, it is linked to the effort you put in regardless of guaranteed return. For example, I work like all my tweets are retweeted, I am a LinkedIn Influencer, my Facebook page has a million likes and I have a ton of Instagram followers. I manage my social media like I am posting for 100,000, not 100. I put the effort in without knowing the return. Doing your best work when it seems not to matter builds resiliency, establishes credibility and generates referrals. Generally, businesses are not suddenly successful – it is the result of doing your best work, always.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The tips above are things that helped to quiet the doubting voices in my head, moving me forward instead of getting stuck in the space of uncertainty. Believe in yourself and do your best work, always. Trust, even when it is hard. You’ve got this!