Some of you may remember that at this time last year I wrote a blog post about being in business. I’d been running KIS Communications for only seven months, and I was still getting my head around the uneven workflows that come with small business.
Now that I’m slightly older and wiser (maybe!), I thought I’d share the lessons I’ve learnt as a small business owner this past year.
Whether you’re starting out in business, or you’re merely interested in my musings, I hope this makes for an interesting read.
The 80:20 rule applies
80/20 Sales & Marketing author Perry Marshall asserts that 20 per cent of customers produce 80 per cent of your sales. While I think there’s truth to this, I think the reverse is equally true. I’ve found it’s the 20 per cent who generate the least income for your business who can take up most of your time. This past year, I’ve come a long way in finding my ideal customers, and politely declining work from those who aren’t the right fit.
The juggle is real
I know that I’m certainly not the first person to juggle running a business and family life, but over this past year I’ve developed a new level of respect for every person juggling work and raising children. As Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink author Katrina Alcorn puts it, “We’re expected to do our jobs as if we don’t have children – and then raise our children as if we don’t have jobs.” Fortunately, the flexibility of working for myself has had its positive moments this past year, although it’s also made for some long nights and weekends spent in front of the computer. Still, loving what you do spurs you on through the chaos.
Prepare to be surprised
When I told my ongoing clients – most of them being larger brands and businesses – that I was expecting a baby, I expected a few, at least, would not renew their contracts with me. But I was surprised by the kindness and flexibility they’ve shown me. I haven’t lost even one client, and I’ve still managed to gain new regular clients despite sharing my news.
Stand by your principles, always
Here I am quoting one of my favourite fictional characters again, but Albus Dumbledore said it best when he stated, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. I think this is a mantra to live by, both in life and business. My view is that brands that stay true to their principles will always succeed in the long-run. Short-term profits don’t need to be put ahead of people and the environment. I try to take this approach to the brands I work with, focussing my efforts on working with brands with a good values alignment.
Be generous – with others, and yourself
This past year I’ve learnt the true value of generosity in business. I’ve found that it’s often those who are most successful who are also most inclined to give back, and make time to mentor and support younger entrepreneurs. There’s been times where I have meetings booked in with business leaders three to four months in advance because of the busyness of their schedules. It’s taught me the value of giving back to others in business, both through referrals and by taking meetings with younger or less experienced professionals who approach me for advice.
Finally, that generosity needs to apply to ourselves. Criticism and failure is part of being in business. Some clients will love you, but you’ll never please absolutely everyone. As Lori Reiner says, “Take criticism seriously, but not personally”. I’m my own toughest critic, as I’m sure many business owners are, so remember to be kind to yourself.
You’re probably doing better than you think.
Lauren is the director of KIS Communications: a boutique brand communication agency working with Australian and international brands to elevate their recognition and performance. KIS offers strategic communications, branding, copywriting, editing and content creation services. In a past life, Lauren worked as a journalist and political adviser. She’s expecting her second child imminently, and looks forward to more juggling in the months ahead, and continuing to deliver fantastic results for her clients.