I remember the day vividly––it was unseasonably warm and sunny (unlike today!). I dressed like I was going into an office––complete with dress slacks and high heels––even though most of my meetings were conducted virtually from my home office.
I was so excited to have the ENTIRE day to work on my business––not just the wee hours of the morning or late into the night.
That day was exactly 11 years ago.
I started Blue Kite as a side-hustle in 2010 while working as a government spokesperson. It wasn’t until February 2, 2012 that Blue Kite became my full-time job.
I’ve learned a lot since then. Including how unnecessary heels are when working virtually!
Top 11 Entrepreneurship Lessons
Here are some other important business and entrepreneurship lessons that I’ve learned in the past 11 years. Maybe some of these will resonate with you too.
1. You don’t have to figure it all out before you start.
Start before you’re ready. Whether that’s starting a new business or launching a new product or service line. Don’t wait to execute on your ideas.
The best learning happens after you get going. Yes, planning is important. But it’s not until you put those plans to action that you really discover what works and what doesn’t.
2. It’s okay to pivot or change direction.
What works when you get started will more than likely change. And that’s okay.
In fact, it’s those changes or pivots that help you get to where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to change course or direction when something doesn’t work for you or your business.
The quicker you can let go of initiatives that don’t work, the better.
3. Narrow your offerings and audience.
Saying you do everything for everyone means NO ONE will know what to call you to do.
In the past year, Blue Kite has shifted its focus to ONLY delivering brand strategy, brand messaging and brand identity work. We no longer do marketing implementation work, which was our bread and butter for years.
That shift has been one of the most powerful ones we’ve made. Now people know exactly when to call us and how we can help.
And if we still get calls about social media or content marketing, we refer that out to our network of trusted marketing partners.
It can feel scary to limit your products or services. But doing so makes it easier to scale your work and increase your profitability.
4. Simply sustaining your business is success.
Society tends to value businesses that grow the biggest and fastest. But, we fail to realize that simply sustaining a business over time is successful.
To be honest, I often forget this myself. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that my business needs to be bigger or grow faster to be successful.
But when 70% of businesses don’t make it past 10 years, I have to remember that the fact my business is still here is, in fact, a success.
There are many times I thought about throwing in the towel. But I didn’t. That resiliency is my biggest success.
5. You will make mistakes.
Every business owner screws up along the way. Myself included.
I’ve made bad hires. Took on clients that weren’t the best fit. Didn’t charge enough. Didn’t pay myself enough. Wasted time, energy and money on the wrong initiatives.
And every single time, I’ve learned from it.
So, don’t fear screwing up.
Instead, be brave enough to try new things. Mistakes and screw ups are only a problem if you let them stop you or if you don’t learn from them.
6. Get uncomfortable.
Every time I push myself and get uncomfortable, great things happen.
Some of our best client relationships that we’ve had in the past year have come from me being vulnerable enough to reach out to key contacts and share that we were looking for new business. It was those conversations that have led to some of our biggest clients and best work.
After launching an entire podcast around bravery, I’ve realized that you must be willing to take risks and get outside of your comfort zone if you want to grow.
If you want to get braver, learn to get uncomfortable.
That’s what’s worked for me.
7. Invest in relationships.
It’s true what they say––you are shaped by the people you spend the most time with.
Building relationships with other smart, talented women business owners is one of the best things I’ve done for myself personally and professionally in the past few years. BrainTrust, a peer learning network for female entrepreneurs, has been a big part of this.
I’ve learned and grown so much by spending time with other dynamite women entrepreneurs. They are a great sounding board for ideas and help me celebrate my wins and overcome my losses.
Don’t underestimate the power in finding your people.
8. Get the help you need at home.
Business owners often talk about hiring help at the office, but we rarely discuss the importance of hiring help at home too so we can better rest and recharge when we’re not working.
As a wife and a mother of two small children, my life is incredibly full and hectic. Trying to do it all is impossible. So, I’ve learned to invest in getting support at home to make things easier.
For instance, I’ve hired a cleaning company to help around the house. And I’m using a meal service to reduce the need to cook or make lunch every day.
To be honest, I’m still learning this lesson. But I’ve realized that the more I invest in getting the help I need at home, the better I’m able to show up for our clients, my family and myself.
9. Build white space for thinking and play.
The best ideas often happen when you’re not in front of a computer. In fact, one of our client breakthroughs last year happened when I decided to take a Friday afternoon off. It was while reading on my back porch that the framework for our client’s overarching strategy and messaging finally snapped into focus.
I’m still working on this lesson too. But I’ve learned that sitting at my desk for hours on end isn’t always the most productive use of my time. Creativity doesn’t typically happen while staring at a screen.
So, I take regular walks and take time off when my energy is low. Refilling my cup helps bring better, more creative ideas to the table.
10. Investing in professional development pays dividends.
I never regret the time or money I spend on my professional growth and leadership development.
Even when you don’t feel like it, or don’t think you have the time… actually, ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it or don’t think you have the time, read that book that’s been gathering dust on your nightstand.
Or, listen to podcasts. Subscribe to newsletters. Check out magazines. Enroll in courses. Hire coaches. Attend conferences.
Making space to expand your knowledge is so valuable.
And then put what you learn into action. All the learning in the world means nothing if you don’t act on it.
11. Focus on profit over revenue.
For a long time, I chased the top-line revenue. And don’t get me wrong, I still want to see growth there.
But over time, I realized how much more important it is to shift my perspective to profitability. I’d rather have a smaller, more profitable business than a large one with slim margins.
Reading Profit First has been a game changer for me. It helps you prioritize your thinking around paying yourself what you’re worth and structuring your business for profit.
Focusing on profits can feel weirdly self serving. But the reality is the more profitable we are, the more sound our business is. Plus, with higher profits, it means we have more opportunity to invest in the community around us and make the world a better place to do great work.
And that’s what really matters to us. We don’t just want to do good work. We want to improve the world around us while we do it.
Here’s to 11 years of entrepreneurship!
Thank you to our tremendous clients for trusting Blue Kite for the past 11 years. Building and growing this business has been a dream come true!
If you’re a fellow entrepreneur, what lessons have you learned in business? Share them below––I’d love to hear what you’ve learned!