Wow! What a year!
I could write for days on all the things we have learned over the past year. Here are 10 highlights:
1 ) Find Your Tribe
I’d love to tell you that everyone will be supportive, but I can’t.
What I can tell you is that it is okay to isolate yourself from the negative nellies. Your support will come from unexpected places.
Surround yourself with those who believe in you, are willing to lend a helping hand, and don’t look at you like you have lost your mind with each new idea. It is especially helpful if they understand the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. I thought we were creating a tribe for others, but our community is my tribe too.
2) We all rise together
One of our biggest champions from the beginning has been Greg Hilton with SOCO. In return, I have tried to be a support to The Converspace in northeast Columbia who opened after we did. 3 coworking spaces in the Midlands. Three very different spaces who all recommend the others. We are all better because of each other. Who do you need to support?
3) Baby steps are steps forward
These little steps can teach us a lot and lead to bigger steps. The weekend workshop with only 2 people gave me a chance to improve the material and get a better understanding of the needs of my audience. 10 attendees would have been more profitable, but 2 was better in the grand scheme of things.
4) Ring the Bell
Celebrate the small wins. We have a bell that we use for speed networking that needs to be mounted. Margie Baxlet with Geek Websites wants to be able to ring it every time she gets a new website client. I need to get the bell mounted because Margie has gotten quite a few new clients recently and we all need to be able to celebrate regularly.
5) Tell Your Story
Own your story and tell it. People want to see the authentic you. I stressed for days over my One Million Cups presentation earlier this year. Once I got out of my own head and understood I simply needed to tell my story, it was easy and has been ever since.
Tell your story. Why you started your business. Even if it isn’t all roses.
If you have ever heard me tell my story, you have probably heard something like, “working from home isn’t always the best option. It wasn’t for me. In fact, it was bad for me and my mental health,” That is my truth!
When you tell your truth, people will respond.
6) Know the numbers that matter
It’s easy to get focused on just the dollars and cents. There are numbers we can control and numbers we cannot.
I can control most of our spending. I can be consistent with the number of blogs I write or the number of social media posts we put out each week. I track the number of people who come in for a tour, but I can’t control that number.
Track both the numbers you can control and the numbers you cannot. If you are consistent with the things you can control, you will be able to examine the other important numbers to see the growth or areas where you need to consider changes.
7) Focus on Lily
Once you pick a target market, you have to focus all of your messaging there. If Lily is your ideal customer, talk to Lily, not her friends with different needs, wants, and pain points. If you have your message on point, Lily will tell her friends. Focus on Lily and only Lily.
8) Try a different lilypad
If you have been to CoCreate and looked at Lily up on the wall, have you ever wondered why she is sitting on a lilypad? Once upon a time, Lily lived in a section of the pond that she thought was beautiful. One day she woke up and realized things were not as they seemed. Her part of the pond was skunky. She needed to do something radical and fast. So Lily hopped from lilypad to lilypad until she landed in a beautiful but very different area of the pond. She found a new lilypad to call home and learned to blossom with the waterlilies.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. If something isn’t working, make a change.
If you don’t like the way something is traditionally done, invent a new way.
This is how speed networking came to be. I still do not like to attend traditional networking events. I am very uncomfortable walking into a group of people and introducing myself. I’d prefer to slide in, speak to someone I know, have them introduce to one person, and slide back out. But that doesn’t grow my business. That won’t grow your business. Now our most successful monthly event allows introverts and extroverts the opportunity to meet 19 other business people while having fun.
Don’t be afraid to try something different or unexpected.
9) What business plan?
Very little of my original, beautifully written business plan has remained the same.
Membership plans have changed (multiple times). How rooms and areas are used have changed. Rates have changed. We have cut back or eliminated programs and expanded others.
Some changes are based on trial and errors. Others based on the needs of our members and the greater entrepreneurial and remote worker communities being a little different than we assumed.
So much has changed, I've even gone from a business plan to a much more fluid and adaptable Business Canvas Model for planning future adaptations and additions. (Shameless plug: We will be using the Business Canvas Model during the upcoming Female Founders’ Growth Weekend to examine businesses from the inside out and planning for the future.)
10) Just Swing
Things don’t always go the way you planned, want, or need.
Your new business is your baby. It’s personal. Being patient is hard.
Not everyone will get what you are trying to achieve. You will come across difficult people.
Sometimes you just need to take a break and swing like a carefree child at the playground.