A lot can happen in the space of 2 ½ years, especially in business. From where Gloss started to where it is now is light years away. Our services are different, we do things differently, we’ve grown both in a business sense and personally.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking of how far we have actually come, triggered by a few events from our past that have somehow tried to creep back into our lives! But if it wasn’t for the mistakes we made surrounding these “events” and the lessons learnt along the way we would not be where we are today. We know its ok to make mistakes or have errors in judgement, the important part is what we take from them.
Here are our 5 mistakes we’ve made in business so far.
You hear people say over and over you need to listen to your instincts. And I don’t know how many times Kat and I have said to each other, we had a gut feeling or we should have listened to our gut feeling. It’s taken us two years to do this! If something doesn’t feel right to us, it usually isn’t.
We’ve got stories to tell with this one…
Every business wants to succeed, but when you start a business with infants you can’t work as many hours in your business. We got excited with every client we got, and we employed someone casually very early on to help us. Any money that was coming in just went to wages and it felt like we were treading water and not getting anywhere. When in fact we should have been a bit more selective with our clients and not rushed things, realising the demands on our time for a family and work perspective.
Our accountant gave me a great bit of advice recently. He said in small business you work, work, work until you can’t possibly do anymore of the work yourself and then you know you’re ready to employ someone. This is exactly what Kat and I do. We do all the work ourselves, but we also know our limitations.
I guess this one ties into both the not listening to our gut instinct and trying to grow too big too fast. There was a period early last year when we got a few big clients at once. It was like our moment, we had made it in business. Only one of those clients still remains today, and it wasn’t until speaking with my mentor, that it actually dawned on me why.
When first speaking with those clients we didn’t put our discovery hat on. All we saw were $$$$. We didn’t ask them some poignant questions to get a better understanding of how they approached business, did our values align? How did they operate?
If we had asked those clients those questions red flags would have appeared, and it wouldn’t have been something we discovered a few months down the track. When your reputation starts to take a hit because of your association with certain companies, you need to severe the relationship. Which is exactly what we did.
When you start out you want to please your customers to know end. We did and obviously still do, but now we make it very clear what work it is we are doing and also get clear expectations from our clients.
We’ve done countless hours of extra work for clients all because we were too afraid to say no, even though it wasn’t originally part of the work we were doing and weren’t getting paid extra to do it. There are so many people that take advantage of small business and have no shame in asking for extras without paying.
We also say no to meetings that don’t suit us. Initially we tried to be very accommodating, but there are certain days where we just can’t meet as we look after our children. 99% of people understand this. It also means we can’t fill our working days with meetings, otherwise we just wouldn’t get any work done.
Now I’m quite comfortable with saying no.
We admit we tried this in the beginning when we offered services that fell outside our scope of expertise. Apart from the fact that it takes jobs offshore, it was like pulling teeth. We found that the businesses and people we used offshore oversold their capabilities. And let’s be honest the number one reason businesses outsource is to save money. And we found the quality to not be that great.
We now have partnerships with service providers in web development, SEO and Adwords and simply refer businesses to them. We know that the business we are referring to undertake all their work in Perth, and offer a solid service and exceptional work.
We didn’t last 3 months with outsourcing, it didn’t work for our business no matter how cost effective it was. I would be very wary for one using a company who primarily outsources all of its work.
Running a small business is tough! I’d love to know if you’ve made the same mistakes as us.