5 Things in 5 Years
I want to share my heart with you in this blog post. I want to share 5 things I have learned in the first 5 years in business. I have learned many more than 5 but these are the ones that have shaped the growth of my small business. My prayer is that it encourages you in your career and business.
#1: Imposter Syndrome is Real
Have you ever been working through something mentally or emotionally but you can’t pinpoint what you are really struggling with, what you are upset about, or what you are worried about? I remember the first couple of years of my business I was hesitant to tell others that I even had a business. Worrying that they would think I was a fraud. I heard someone talk about “Imposter Syndrome” and I instantly identified with it. By believing I was an imposter, I wasn’t confident or clear about what I did or what my business specialized in. My uncertainty confused people and probably contributed to people thinking my business was temporary or just a hobby. It took 2.5 years before others recognized the business as “successful” or legitimate. But when I stepped back, it took me 2.5 years to stop hiding and letting imposter syndrome plague my work and define my identity. As an entrepreneur, I don’t think you can ever be “cured” of imposter syndrome, but you can fight it by surrounding yourself with truth-tellers and being confident to share what you do and why you love it.
#2: Don’t Do It Alone
This brings me to one of the things I learned early in my career and recognized from day one of my business. Don’t do your business or career alone. We weren’t designed to. If 2020 has taught us anything it is that we need each other. We need a community. We need support, encouragement, perspective, and opportunities. And those don’t come from a bank loan or investor. Those come from people and relationships - the true business accelerators.
How did I do it? I got involved with my local Chamber, I joined advisory boards at Auburn’s campus, I went for coffee with a lot of professionals. But most importantly, I continued to show up even when I was tired and didn’t know anyone at the event. And before I was 100% ready, I sought out talented young professionals to fill the voids of the business and help me serve others better.
#3: Follow Your Intuition
As my business has evolved, I have been offered many opportunities for projects, full-time jobs, and partnerships. From an outside perspective, you would have thought I was crazy for saying no to some of the offers I have been given. They would have given me financial stability, security, and an impressive title. But I learned that I should never say yes when I don’t have inner peace. It is something I can’t fully describe but for those of you who have experienced peace amidst a hard decision, you know. I don’t take all the credit for my intuition. I have never prayed more than in the last 5 years of business. Not only can I not do this business without others, I can’t do it without God and my faith.
How do I make decisions with peace? When a decision has been hard, I weigh the pros and cons, I evaluate it against my purpose (to impact lives and educate others through my creativity and joy) and I talk it out with a select few who know me and my heart well.
#4: Appreciate the Season
It is so easy to constantly be looking ahead or behind. Wishing we were somewhere else in life. Coveting someone else’s life. Thinking that if we only have ______ or do ______, then our life will officially start. I am very driven so I am always thinking of growth, appreciating change, and looking to improve. But I have also found so much comfort in recognizing the season I am in and appreciating it. Knowing it is temporary and that it will change. I have always wanted to do things differently from others so staying in my lane has come naturally to me. But I have seen in my career and branding clients how comparison can destroy a season of life. If you are in a season of waiting, know it is not wasting. If you are in a season of hustle or grinding, know there will be fruits for your labor. If you are in a season of healing or grieving, you are allowed to have this season. Just remember, you will not stay in this season forever.
#5: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
I don’t like to say no (such a huge understatement!).
Though I have learned to listen to my intuition for the bigger decisions, I am guilty of letting my autoresponse to any and all requests be “yes”, “sure”, or “I can do that for you!”. 2020 has been a year of reducing and saying no. I have had to reduce our one-on-one career/personal branding clients. It has been hard, but by saying no, I have had more space to see what I should say yes to. I don’t know that I would have seen these other opportunities if I had been consumed with trying to help everyone who came into my inbox.
How did I know when to say no? I wrote out everything that consumed my days and weeks. I grouped items together and the outliers were the first items that were considered for reduction. Try it for your professional and personal life!
So now I ask you: What have you learned in the last 5 years of your life? Can you think of 1 thing for each year? You are not the same person you were 5 years ago. You have perspective and experience that your past self would be envious of!
Don’t waste it!