The start and ongoing of a business can be rewarding and exhausting at the same time. Running a business successfully encompasses learning from mistakes that happen along the way which in the end, helps your business to be more strategic and to get back on track. We asked entrepreneurs and business owners about the tough lessons they have learned in 2017.
#1- Go Small to Go Big
When I started my business, Bath Body Candle Moments, I was trying to make everything related to bath, body, and candles. I found myself with mounds of supplies, getting stressed when products sold out, lowering prices of products that didn't; I was overwhelmed by the number of SKUs I was offering. This year, I finally learned what works and what sells. For 2018, the lesson is to go small to go big. Reduce the number of products being offered and hone in on your target, niche market. When you have fewer products, you're able to make better investments in elegant packaging, produce enough to not worry about selling out, and increase your profit margin by purchasing focused supplies in greater bulk.
Thanks to Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo, Bath, Body, Candle Moments!
#2- Follow your own path
In the beginning, I was trying to copy my competitors. I would look at what they posted on social media, what type of deals they offered during the holiday season and when they rolled out a new product. Although, I pay attention to what they are doing, I don’t mimic them. Blu Skin Care is a unique company in that it’s usda certified organic. There aren’t many of us (10 or 11) and our marketing plan would be slightly different from our competitor. I’ve learned to pay attention to trends, but stay close to my own path as to how to grow my business.
Thanks to Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care, LLC!
#3- Be Resilient & Learn from Mistakes
If there is anything I can share the 1 thing that I learned that will continue to help me moving forward- is that vetting who you work with is essential to your success- and being resilient if it all goes awry is just as important. Don't just trust social proof, talk to previous clients and employers to make sure whether it's an employee or potential business partnership to make sure you have the whole truth. I learned the heard way that making assumptions about work versus the tactical execution of work are two very different things. Especially within the digital marketing space, you need to make sure that the pretty presentations are not full of false information and more importantly make decisions based on actual deliverables not promises. If it does go awry, acknowledge that you learned a lesson and stay positive. I was in a situation where I found myself working along side of someone who made big promises and delivered nothing for their clients. One bad apple can make the bunch look bad- but use the experience to propel you forward not keep you in a negative mindset. Mistakes are good, they teach us to look at areas where we may have been willfully blind. Sometimes the best lessons are harsh- but worthwhile- bouncing back is key.
Thanks to Maresa Freidman, Executive Cat Herder!
#4- Rely on accurate market feedbacks
I have had the mixed experience about my business this year. I have gained some more clientele through which I made some good business and I have lost a few good business options due to some miscalculated market readings. From those miscalculations, I have decided to make my digital marketing efforts more aggressive for which I will depend on accurate market feedbacks. I will find and use more subtle penetrative techniques to build direct and better relations with my clients and will provide more discounts to my loyal clients than ever. Better customer relations will produce more accurate feedback and accurate feedback will help me to device more effective marketing strategies through which I can provide better service to them and generate more revenue for myself. Thus, I will make my clients and myself happier than before.
Thanks to Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull!
#5- Get someone who fits in the company culture
The main business lesson I learnt this year has to do with talent and company culture. At the beginning of this year, we needed to add one more person to the team and I am glad with the decision made by the team and I. Our productivity level has increased since the new member joined. His talent has helped us improve and the way he fits into our company culture is just amazing. Do not compromise on culture. If you then get a mixture of someone that fits into the company’s culture and has great talent like we did, call that a lotto win!
Thanks to Bamigboye Daniel, Firebrick Digital!
#6- It's okay to do away with some clients
Most blaring thing I learned this year was the old adage of 20% of your clients eat 80% of your time rings true. It is also okay to fire a client. As much as we would love your business, sometimes we are not a good fit because of her methodology. Sometimes you have to look them in the face and say we cannot do business with each other. Once I learned that lesson I removed significant amount of clients who are not beneficial to our growth.
Thanks to Trave Harmon, Triton Technologies!
What I learned in 2017 that you can never know if your business decision is going to be successful. Instead of spending a half year on making one perfect it is better to make 3 projects, test them within your market and spend your time and energy on improving the ones that your market liked.
Thanks to Santare Slavinskiene, DIZAIND Bags!
#8- Rise above the noise
The main lesson I learned this year is that you have to keep evolving your brand and messaging to stay relevant, especially with the fast pace of the market today. It’s a noisy market and many companies sound the same.. Differentiation is key, which can be approached in different ways. The bottom line is competition is getting fierce so in order to be a true leader in your space you have to stand out, create a movement and make a genuine difference. No more standing on the sidelines. You have to rise above the noise and that’s my plan for 2018!
Thanks to Alison Brehme, Virtual Corporate Wellness!
#9- Be positive and live a life you can be proud of
In the turbulent climate of business today where whistleblowers are bringing unethical practices to light and professionals who constantly harp on the negative state of the world are only setting themselves up for failure, it is paramount to rise about the lowest common denominator. Having the chance in 2017 to witness the unraveling of businesses, governments, organizations and communities through their own undoing’s I have learned a valuable lesson about living your life with principles and operating with high moral standards. There is no one who is safe in the digital age from scrutiny and the only way to avoid being the target of mass media is to live a life you can absolutely be proud of. Additionally, it is of the upmost importance to keep the positive manner in which you live your life present in every aspect. This includes social media. Joining the negative chorus of individuals who are complaining about government, millennials or life in general is never a good beat. Your best way to keep people engaged is to share your knowledge, while keeping your message positive.
Thanks to Tyler Butler, 11Eleven Consulting!
#10- Stand by your experience
This past year, I learned the importance of standing by your work and believing in yourself. I deal with a variety of clients who all have different perceptions regarding the PR industry, including what it is, expectations, activities, tactics, etc. I take my work so personally and try my best to cater to each client’s wants/needs/expectations. However, in doing so, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in their demands that you lose sight of the fact that you are the one with the experience and knowledge. They hired you after all! As 2017 is quickly coming to an end, I’m inspired and motivated to stand by my experience, knowledge and belief in myself, and will use that confidence to enhance every PR campaign I work on in 2018.
Thanks to Megan Saulsbury, Canyon PR!
#11- Power of being adaptive
The number one thing I learned about my business is just how adaptive we are to change and new processes. I can track our progress from the beginning of the year until now on our customer service and product updates. We have a policy of collecting and implementing customer feedback as quickly as we can, and I'm proud to say I can see tangible changes in how feedback has affected our business positively. We're planning on doing the same and ramping up our customer service efforts in 2018.
Thanks to Harrison Doan, Saatva!
#12- Invest in a success business coach
As founder and CEO of Rescue Event Planning, LLC, one important thing I’ve learned this fiscal year that will help sky rocket my business next year is investing into a success business coach. My success business coach helped me to organize the strategic plans for my business, introduced me to endless business opportunities (along with potential clients), and helped me to balance my personal and business life as a CEO and businesswoman that I aim to become.
Thanks to Melissa Jakes, Rescue Event Planning, LLC!
#13- Minimise distractions to be productive
In 2017 I got much better at limiting distractions so I could focus on my business. It is so easy to get derailed by the latest headline or tweet out of Washington, DC and I started the year wasting a lot of time every day following links online or spending the beginning of every meeting and call talking about things that I could not control and were likely rumors and/or fake news trying to confuse reality. It was frustrating and anxiety inducing so I made a very conscious effort to stop it. I am much happier and more productive as a result. Washington continues to be crazy so it was well with my effort!
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#14- Power of Facebooks ads
I learned the power of Facebook advertising and how much new leads/business video content can deliver. I was always skeptical on Facebook ads but once our company invested in quality video content and targeted the right demographic, it was a game changer. We'll continue to utilize this not only for our agency but also for our clients.
Thanks to Stefanie Rosenfield, Cleveland Marketing King!
#15- I can't do everything on my own
When I first started my business, I thought that I could be the copywriter, designer, manager, accountant, SEO specialist, social media specialist…. just to name a few! And it caused me to get behind on the work that I was doing for my clients. My first hires are actually contractors. As a publishing company, there's a lot of work that goes into each book, from finding the right cover to finding the right keywords. It didn't make sense for me to hire someone for a task that I would only need a couple times a year, yet it also didn't make sense for me to hire a full-time employee to basically do the same thing I was doing (I couldn't even do everything!). So, I hired an SEO specialist as a contractor, and I was amazed at the work they did. I ended up extending that to other fields as well. For 2018, this will really help me scale up the work I do. It also helps me learn how to approach each book as a project and become more comfortable taking on a more quality control role to ensure my clients are represented to the best of my ability (at the end of the day, that's also a hefty job in itself!).
Thanks to Tessa Clare Endencia, Asset Creative House!