In the past few years, I have learned my fair share of lessons when it comes to starting your own business.
As a business owner, we all have our fair share of battles that lead to learning opportunities. From failed launches to overbooking myself with clients, I have had many opportunities to learn which allows me to share with you my best practices!
Today, I want to share with you my top 10 lessons that I’ve learned along the way.⠀
1. YOU ARE THE BOSS SO THAT MEANS YOU HAVE TO DECIDE TO WAKE UP AND GET TO WORK ON YOUR OWN EVERY DAY.⠀
2. WHAT YOU SAY GOES! ⠀
SO STICK TO YOUR WORD AND ALWAYS FOLLOW THROUGH.⠀
3. NOT EVERY DECISION YOU MAKE WILL BE THE “RIGHT” ONE.⠀
4. MISTAKES HAPPEN SO LEARN FROM THEM AND KEEP GOING!⠀
5. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY, ALWAYS!⠀
6. FIND A BIZ BESTIE BECAUSE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY DON’T ALWAYS UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH WHILE STARTING A BUSINESS.⠀
7. GIVE YOURSELF A SCHEDULE FOR NON-WORKING HOURS, YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WILL THANK YOU!⠀
8. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO CHANGE YOUR MIND.⠀
TRUE FANS WILL FOLLOW YOU!⠀
9. CELEBRATE EVERY SUCCESS ALONG THE WAY!⠀
10. KNOW THAT WHAT YOU ARE DOING CAN AND WILL MAKE A GREAT IMPACT. ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOU GREATER VISION!⠀
Remember, that nothing great comes easy. Put in the work and do it in a way that lights you up!⠀
What has been the #1 lesson you’ve learned so far since starting your business?
Until quite recently, it was the same old story. I’d go somewhere, meet new people, and that classic question would inevitably come up outta somewhere:
So, Alex, what do you do?
Here it is! My golden opportunity to introduce myself as the boss Squarespace website designer that I’m working day in and day out to be! My hopes and dreams and all the things that set my little heart on fire! Here we go, here it comes…
“Oh, I teach English as an assistant teacher in a French high school.”
Wait a second, wait. No… No, that wasn’t right, was it? We missed something there.
And by then, the conversation has already moved full speed ahead and to jump back to that topic would be just a little weird now.
End inner dialogue. Also, not sure we even have to mention the fact that I literally can’t remember anyone’s name from that little conversation because I was so busy in my head trying to figure out why I didn’t show up as the person I am, and more importantly, as the person I’m working to be.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Deep down, we know who we are and we know what sets our beautiful hearts and souls on fire. But why do we settle for giving those around us the “societally-acceptable” versions of ourselves. The versions that say “yes, I’m a responsible person and have a ‘normal’ job despite the fact that I’m working my arse off every other waking hour of my life trying to build something I’m 10,000% more passionate about!”
Why do we feel nervous to show up confidently, beautifully, UNDENIABLY as our true selves?
I’ve only recently started mentioning my Squarespace website design business, Alex Morton Creative, as my main entrance point when asked what I do or what I’m all about. Sure, I still work as an English teacher, but I treat that job as something that’s in the background of what sets my heart aflame – which is building a profitable, sustainable, and location-independent business all on my own.
That’s the kind of stuff I wake up for in the morning.
So, why wouldn’t that be what I open the Alex Morton show with during any given conversation?!
We need to start showing up as ourselves – our TRUE selves and the selves we already look up to. The selves we know we’ll become as long as we keep at those little, consistent professional actions for our businesses and passions.
Here are a couple of actionable items that have personally helped me to break out of my own limiting, insecure frame of mind and into a more confident, this-is-ME mentality:
1 | Set your intentions – weekly, daily, or simply whenever you feel yourself straying back into no-woman’s-land.
A few months ago, I made it a non-negotiable for me to wake up in the morning and, no matter what, journal for around a half hour. I do this to clear my head, especially in preparation for the day ahead. If I don’t have my daily journal-session, I’m running around like wild and feeling like I’m trying to chase my to-do list instead of easily strolling along and pleasantly checking off each action item.
I’d much prefer jotting down a couple of thoughts and then setting up a list of clear actionable items that I need to complete during the day. As a general rule, I only list about 3 of these actionable items. Otherwise, I’m caught up in the unforgiving to-do list grind – you know how that goes!
2 | Get comfortable talking about yourself and what you do each and every time you meet someone new.
We all know the story. You know you want to start talking about your great professional self as it pertains to what you’re passionate about, but where do we begin? It always just seems easiest to fall back into our old stories – the ones that don’t include what we’re most excited about.
The quickest way to get over this is to, as Nike says, just do it. Next time you find yourself in an introductory or “what’s new with you” situation, just do it – just come out and tell them what’s actually new with you and your business. See how you feel doing it – hesitant, nervous, excited? Hey-that-was-easier-than-I-thought? And then keep doing it until you’re never not doing it.
3 | Don’t underestimate the power of meditation and visualization.
This point goes back a bit to the whole journaling bonanza of my first actionable item. Not only have I gotten into the non-negotiable of my daily morning journaling, but it’s usually followed up with at least ten minutes of meditation.
I say “at least” because sometimes I’m feeling like a crazy little daredevil and end up pushing through to twelve minutes. Wild, right?
Meditation is simple, but it can be incredibly difficult when you’re not accustomed to sitting and doing nothing but breathing for a little stretch of time. I promise you, if you stick with it, it gets easier and becomes an invaluable part of your own routine. I don’t know what it is, but it just makes your day better, and it connects you to some sort of deeper self that leaves you feelin’ overall more grounded. The perfect solution for wanting to feel more confident showing up as your true self!
4 | Know (and practice!) your elevator speech!
Yes, it’s time to break out the mirror (but be careful to not actually break it – something about bad luck, which we’re specifically not going for at this moment in time). If someone were to come up to you right now out of absolute thin air and ask what you do – how would you respond?
Try it, why don’t you? How do you sound to yourself?
Uncertain, hesitant? wait-what-do-I-do-again?!
Practice. Go to your nearest mirror (or reflecting pool, if that better suits you) and tell yourself what you do and who you are. Your ears need to get accustomed to hearing it just as much as your mouth needs to get used to saying it before your brain really starts to believe it. So get to steppin’ and start chatting to yourself in the mirror!
5 | Drink water.
To be honest, I’m not sure why I added this one, but as I was going down my list of actionable items to start showing up as yourself – the thought of water and drinking enough kept coming to me so I figured WHY NOT ADD IT.
Because we all know we ain’t drinkin’ enough water up in here. Stay hydrated, have glowing skin, and show up as your beautiful, impressive, wonderful self.
To conclude all of this showing-up craziness, when someone asks you what you do or what you’re all about, simply tell them. Don’t sugar-coat it to make it more acceptable or easier for people to swallow. If you’ve been lucky enough to find something you can’t wait to wake up for in the morning (regardless of whether or not it makes you money), by all means shout it from the rooftops.
You’ve just discovered a burning passion for juggling? Amazing.
You’re really, really into learning how to create email marketing sequences (bless you!) and you’re thinking of turning it into something that might help emerging entrepreneurs and business owners? Perfect.
Be proud of what you’re interested in and passionate about, and don’t be nervous to let people know.
I really think we could use more people like that in this world. People who prove that it’s OK to not be everything for everyone and to not be ashamed of what they love to do even if it’s outside of the (dreaded, and oftentimes boring) expectation. Let’s make life a little more interesting, shall we?
Be different, show up as your best self.
What a concept, huh?!
Okay, we’re a few months into 2018 (but, doesn’t it feel like the year should be over already sometimes?!) It’s time for tips and a pep talk.
Think back to a few months ago. Eager to be going into the new year, you set some goals. What were they? Are you still working on them? Did you hit a wall and give up? Did you surpass them and are well your way to more greatness?
Whatever the status of your goals and your progress, now is the perfect time to recenter your intentions and make sure that you are on track. Taking the time to recenter on your goals and analyze the reasons you may have fallen off track can help recharge your motivation as you launch into the month.
Let’s start of with breaking down the goals you set for 2018 and pinpointing what roadblocks you hit that may have caused you to fall off. Take a minute down to think about it.
Think: 3 . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . .
Great! Now that you have your 2018 goals at the forefront of your mind, let’s talk about some simple steps to get back on track. The goals and roadblocks you thought about above were most likely the large, higher level goals you set out for the whole year. What about the smaller goals that build up to those larger goals? What are some of the steps you need to take to get to that goal? Take another minute now to think about them.
Think: 3 . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . .
Fantastic. You know exactly what steps you need to take to reach your 2018 goals. Here are some tips to get going on these steps and reach your goals!
1 | If it can be done in 5 minutes, do it now.
Having more things on your to-do list causes more stress, more anxiety, and more distraction. If you are looking over your to-do list for the day and a task can be accomplished in less than 5 minutes (i.e. sending an email or scheduling a social media post), do it now. Scratching that item off your list will make you feel better for getting something done and prevents distractions as you work on the harder and more time intensive tasks.
2 | Trick your brain into productivity.
It is proven that if you stop yourself from slouching or slap on a smile when you may be frustrated, you can trick your mind into a stronger focus. Fake it ‘til ya make it! By adjusting and remaining at least slightly cognizant of your physiology, you can make a big difference on your psychology.
3 | Plan, Plan, Plan.
By planning your day out the night before, you can go to bed with your intentions for the day clear. When you wake up in the morning, you will instantly be more motivated and calm for what’s ahead because you have strategically set up your day prior to your alarm going off. This will also help you to get better sleep, because you can get all your thoughts out onto paper and organized in a constructive way for a good night’s rest. If you want more information on the impact of nightly planning and intentional morning, read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elron – it’ll change your life.
4 | ROCK ON.
Playing music that you enjoy will help you focus and will also lift your spirits. When focusing on your work while energizing yourself with stimulating music, you can synergize your work and even take a dance party break when you mentally need to relax, which leads to our next step . . .
5 | Don’t Force It!
Motivation doesn’t last for ever. If you expect it to, burnout will happen. Overworking yourself will not lead to your best work and will delay you from reaching your goals. Work hard, rest hard. It’s important to give your mind some moments of rest in order to recharge and get back on the motivation train. At the very least, take 10 minutes to do a short meditation and let your brain unwind so that you can really focus on the next big task ahead.
6 | Rethink your systems.
Is there one place where you find yourself continuously discouraged or stumped in your working process? If so, it would be ideal to take some time and re-strategize how you tackle that task or restructuring your system overall so that you stop degrading your motivation.
7 | CELEBRATE!
There are big wins and small wins, but all wins should be celebrated! When you take a moment to really appreciate your work no matter how big or small the accomplishment, you will be motivated to accomplish more! There needs to be more celebration in this world for all the things that people do. Be that change for yourself and your work!
Which of these tips are you most interested in trying? Are you going to implement them this week or month? Share below!
If you need a little extra help getting started, managing your stress, and getting focused, definitely check out my Manage Your Stress workbook here.