I know I seem like I’ve got it pretty together, but I have absolutely screwed up, made bad decisions, wasted my own damn time…many times. And because I want your business growth to be smoother and faster than mine, today on the podcast I’m sharing some of the mistakes I’ve made in the last 9 years growing my business.
Some are dumb mistakes, some are big mistakes. But hopefully, by sharing these you’ll be able to move forward in your business faster, avoid some of the screw-ups I made, and feel a lot less stressed as you grow!
trying to go it alone for too long
I’m all for DIY-ing the hell out of things when you’re starting out. It’s a really good way to move fast at the beginning and get things up and running quickly. I definitely DIY-ed it for too long. I’m not just talking about making graphics or putting together strategies, I’m talking about community and support as well.
I think this happened because I’m a total introvert and don’t like group projects so I was totally okay to do things on my own. Also, when I started blogging and learning to code and designing websites I didn’t know anyone else that was doing the same things (because I was 13 and the internet was relatively new.) I got used to making decisions on my own, learning + doing all the tasks myself, being my own support system. As I progressed into freelancing and then into courses and coaching, I kept doing the same things. Which was fine, it obviously worked, but if I had found a community, a coach or mentor, support from contractors or employees, it would have gone faster and I would have spent less money and energy on stuff that didn’t work.
Now, before I dive into anything new, I think about who knows this or does this better than me. I think about whether that task or project contributes to my role in accomplishing my goals. What am I pulling my attention away from if I spend time doing or figuring out that thing? Also, who can I talk to that can give me a few tips or answer any last questions?
Now, because I have communities of business friends, programs that I’m in, contractors who take stuff off my plate and help me stick to my deadlines things move a lot faster and a lot more smoothly and I end my days with more energy. I don’t get knocked out when Facebook and Instagram go down or my internet goes out for the day. I have support and solutions and that helps to create a mindset of resilience. It feels easier to bounce back when you know you have support.
All of these things culminate in the ability to move faster, make better decisions, stick to deadlines because you also have the confidence in yourself to be okay if it goes wrong. Finding + building a support system starting today is really going to benefit you as your business grows and it’s definitely something I should have started from day 1.
waiting to hire someone for the little stuff
Along the same lines, but a little more specifically – waiting to hire admin support. If you are running a business PERIOD you should not be answering email, creating spreadsheets, or fulfilling orders. Someone needs to be at the helm of the ship and that probably should be you. If you keep running downstairs to pick up an oar every 20 minutes, then no one is deciding where the ship is going to land. You want to get to a point where captain or CEO is your only job and you can start making that happen from the start.
Right now, more than ever is a great time to hire someone. There are lots of people looking for extra work, flexible work, and work they can do from home. You could pay someone $10-$20 / hour for a few hours each week, spend a few hours training them, and you’ll get back that time which you can use for higher-level tasks, showing up more for your audience, creating more content, and taking on more clients.
That’s an easy trade-off. If you hire someone to take over a bunch of admin tasks – let’s say 5 hrs/week. That’s max $100/week. In that 5 hours you used to spend on admin work, you can now take on 5 more clients which you charge maybe $500/hour. If you hire one person and take on 5 more clients in one week you spent $100 and earned $2,500, so paying someone netted you $2400.
I know someone reading this is thinking “well yeah the math sounds good, but what if I can’t get 5 clients?” First – if you have more than 5 people on your email list, following you on Instagram, even on your personal Facebook page, you can get 5 clients. I dare you to post on your IG, send an email to your list, and post on your personal FB page and let them know you have 5 spaces open for hour-long sessions and see what happens.
Second – ok, what if you can’t get 5 clients? What if you only got one? Fine, $500-$100 = $400 – congrats you still make a profit.
Just because you don’t have the customers or clients now doesn’t mean you can’t get them tomorrow. It’s online business – I can go on Instagram right now and sell coaching space. I just have to decide where in my schedule to fit those hours. That’s it – I’ve got my expertise down. This means you can do it too. If your schedule is overloaded or you have a hard time sticking to deadlines, hire help to take even just a little of the pressure off yourself so you can invest that time into something else.
The big lesson here is don’t go at these decisions thinking about how much you have in your bank account right now or how many hours you have or don’t have. Think about the return on your investment. Write out all the numbers and figure out how to make it happen because it’s often easier than we realize.
not taking time off
Now, I’ve also finally started to take some of the time I got back from hiring help and setting up systems in my business to take time off. That is one of the privileges of working for myself that I’ve learned to focus on more. I’ve finally started putting big chunks of time off into my calendar while I’m planning my year in January and prioritizing that as I schedule projects and work.
The first couple of years I didn’t take time off at all and I barely took nights or weekends off. I think taking time completely away from work a few times a year would have helped me step away from the day-to-day tasks and think more about the long-term plan and goals instead of just focusing on keeping everything running. Also, this would have kept me away from burnout and having a feast and famine cycle with my creativity. Creating non-stop with so many ideas and then feeling too worn out from working like that to create anything else.
Looking back I could have built that time off or less projects into my schedule from the start because I’m the boss, I can do whatever I want. I worked way too many hours at the start because I was afraid if I stopped my business would stop. I didn’t know about systems because I’d never had to create or implement them before. Now with social media, your audience can be finding you and learning from you 24/7, and there are tons of apps and platforms to automate and systematize parts of your business and save more time.
spending too much time testing, and not implementing
Strategy-wise, I made the mistake of not letting things run long enough or not testing them enough times to make them work. Pretty much every strategy works. Webinars, ads, quizzes, youtube, Instagram – it all works. You can absolutely test a few to see what feels best, but the problem comes when we keep testing and testing and testing and give up before anything really has a chance to work.
One study showed that it took an average of 2 years for people to gain 1000 subscribers on YouTube. Now that sounds like a long time but it’s gradual, which means you have new opportunities to sell your products or services as you grow. You’re not suddenly going from 0 to 1000 subscribers or IG followers or people on your email list. There are opportunities to see results every day because you’ll grow every day.
I was a strategy-hopper. I love having new projects to work on, new things to learn, new things to create and so any time I saw someone with a different strategy I wanted to see if it would work. Which meant I spent a lot of time learning a lot of platforms, creating new content and graphics and videos. A lot of that stuff I only used once, which is like an unwritten law of online business – you want to be able to reuse everything you create.
For example, I have a YouTube channel that I created in 2017 and I learned all about how to make good YouTube videos and how to create a channel and tricks for getting more views. Then I created and posted 4 videos and never posted again.
I literally just looked at my video stats for the first time since then – most of my videos have like 300 videos, but one…it has 29k views. Which means…YouTube could have really worked, but instead of figuring out my process and making things feel easier, getting on a posting schedule for a certain number of months to see if I could gain traction, I just moved on to the next shiny, interesting strategy.
The thing is, there’s a compounding effect that starts right from the beginning from the first post, the first email, the first video. The more you show up, the more content you post, the more your audience will show up and the more they show up and respond the more inspired you’ll be to create more content, then the more content you create the more opportunities your audience has to find you and hire you or buy from you.
If you keep switching strategies like I did there won’t be enough time for things to work.
worrying about lighting, editing, sounding a certain way on video
I wasted so much time trying to figure out the lighting on my videos, stacking my throw pillows, waiting for every noise around me to be silent, and trying to be really fancy with my videos. Y’all, I used to turn the fridge off while I was recording. No wonder I’d be all stressed and sweaty when I was done. AND no wonder my YouTube videos were such a pain in the ass that I gave up on it.
I was doing that to myself because I wanted everything to be perfect from the start.
Now I’ve learned that all of that stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is showing up for your audience in some way, every single day until you are the person everyone goes to for the thing you do. They don’t care how you look or if your lighting is too blue or your hair is frizzy if they’re helped by what you’re sharing.
No one who needs what you’re selling or would pay for what you’re doing is going to criticize your hair or lighting, which means anyone who does, doesn’t matter.
I think going on stories helped me a lot with this because it was more acceptable to be casual and not have makeup on or the best lighting, which means I could show up and share a lot more often if I didn’t worry about that stuff. Now I think I look like garbage sometimes but I post the video anyway because what I’m sharing is important for my audience to hear.
Here’s the big lesson from all of these screw-ups and bad choices. It’s not a pass or fail game, you’re going to mess up, no matter what. It’s unavoidable, but you always get to keep going whether you have to start again from scratch or just have a good cry over it. You get to keep going.
If there’s part of you that wants to go passionately and wildly all in on your dream, you should do it. You will learn and grow so much faster. Which means you’ll hit your goals so much faster.