Every year we learn new lessons. When we reflect on the year that has passed, we are always surprised by the new revelations and insights. We learn more about ourselves and better understand our purpose and perspectives. Three successful women share with us what they have learned during 2014.
“2014 has been a very busy and exciting year – but not without its challenges and lessons”
1. Listen to advice but follow your intuition
Advice is everywhere nowadays, and for those who are in the early stages of business it is important to realize that advice is not one-size-fits-all. Of course, there are basics which you can read in books, but you really need to know how your business will work in the real world. What would happen if you started tomorrow? Each business will have specific barriers to overcome: personally, I had to become quickly acquainted with the world of ‘commercial property’. I never thought it would be so difficult to secure reasonable lease on commercial property meeting the needs for the centre.
2. Learn to make quick decisions
Unfortunately, business cannot wait for us to make our mind! Big decisions often need to be made fast in order to move forward. There is always a risk but you don’t want to lose out on an even bigger potential reward.
3. Work hard, but don’t forget to play hard too!
Starting a business and seeing success is overwhelming feeling, but is this coming at too high a price? Work-life balance is very important to me as a mother, and I believe it is attainable even as a business owner. Enjoy growing your business but remember to relax and take time away from your business too!
4. Network, network and network
It is amazing what networking can do for you and your business. Great connections can be made online and off-line. It is important not to make assumptions when you meet people – you never know when you will meet your next client, partner, investor or friend. This year, networking helped us to find commercial property, raise finance, secure early contracts, and substantially cut costs (to name but a few!).
5. Persevere, perseverance and perseverance!
(‘If it’s not alright, it is not yet the end’) Never give up on something you really believe in! Be flexible, maybe you need to tweak your original idea, but keep battling – it will pay off! We waited 18 months to secure a property for our centre. It was worth it!
“I am still surprised by what life has to teach me”
1. Celebrate and reward the smaller successes and milestones
I keep going, looking for the next achievement without giving proper credence to how much I have gained from the process and the journey. I set myself higher standards than I do for others and consequently I am quicker to recognise the achievements of others than of my own. I am grateful that I have the time to further develop, create, learn, and do more. I now plan to reward myself as part of the journey to achieving my goals.
2. Do not look at what others do – look at what you do
It is hard to strike the right balance between what is outside and inside. Setting and stretching targets, being aware of the competitive environment, defining my brand and business, as well as understanding and meeting the needs of my customers, helps me be more aware of what makes me unique and different from others. That means remaining faithful and purposeful while being open and accepting. I have spent time understanding my journey. I have learned that ‘what is right for me’ is to know and follow my own path.
3. Capitalise on the massive benefits of talking online and offline
I have met some incredible people, and I have gained from the knowledge that my online community generously shares. This year, I have taken some of my online relationships offline. I have realised that the engagement developed online is a short-cut to finding my tribe of friends and peers. It is amazing that this is not limited by location. I now see my social network as like fishing in the largest sea that you can imagine, and those that bite are a self-selecting preference for my food, which is a firm foundation for developing trusted relationships.
4. Perception is not reality
If we do not know something, we feel that we have to fill in the gaps and make a judgement. None of us knows what the other person had to sacrifice to get to that point. We see a confident person, but none of us know how they feel inside – it looks easy from our side.
I have learnt that we are all just the same amount of full and empty, but in varying quantities along millions of combinations and possibilities. In the process of understanding that perception is not reality, I am learning to judge less. I know that this is my ongoing challenge. I look forward to 2015 as I learn more and develop a better understanding of who I am and what I will become. I will leave you with this final lesson:
5. Perception is Reality
If other people think it is real, then it is real.
If I think I am great, then I am great.
If I decide to be happy, then I am happy. What is your reality?
I realised how much I enjoy my business and the nature of the work that I do.
1. To make time for my personal life
As my career was flying high, my love life was nose-diving. I realised that if I wanted a relationship, I had to invest time for it.
2. That I can survive on little sleep
I have a very active two year-old who doesn’t sleep very well. I get through each day with lots of cups of tea and a sense of humour.
3. The importance of keeping physically fit
By July of this year I was exhausted and started going to the gym four times a week. I feel mentally fitter, healthier and stronger, and as a result, I perform better at work.
4. To keep being in love with your business
I considered selling ‘School Speakers’ earlier this year after being approached, but I realised how much I enjoy my business and the nature of the work that I do.
5. The joy of online shopping!
I have zero time to shop, so being able to look at fashion and have it delivered to the office with no car parking, queues and etc, is a real pleasure.