5 Lessons We’ve Learned In Our First Year Of Business
It’s been an AMAZING first year of business here at Foxtrot Branding! We are so proud to have made it this far, and we’ve got big goals for 2020. But before we start pursuing those goals, it’s important for us to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and understand what we’ve learned so far, so we put together this list of the top 5 lessons we’ve learned in our first year of business for ourselves and for you so that we can all keep learning together.
Change Is A Good Thing!
Sometimes, we feel a bit crazy. In our first year of business, we were constantly learning and trying new things. We’ve changed our processes for client work a handful of times, bounced from one accounting/invoicing system to the next, rewritten the text on our website every few months, and changed our ideas about our service offerings at least a half-dozen times. We often worried about if these constant changes were making our business unstable. However, when we asked a mentor at our co-working space if we were running our business like madmen, he told us that EVERYONE frequently shifts their business in one way or another and that, if we weren’t changing, we’d be failing. We learned that changing our systems to improve our productivity, improving our offerings to appeal to our market, and rewriting our verbiage to attract the right customers, is all for the greater good of our business. To put it simply, CHANGE = GROWTH. Now, we embrace change, and we know that growing pains will always be there if we are pushing our business to be better and stronger.
Your Network Is Your Net Worth
As told by Alli Worthington, your network is your net worth. You are a sum of the 5 people closest to you, as the saying goes. When we first started our business, we joined a local co-working space to have a place to, firstly, Get out of the house, and, secondly, join a network of supportive entrepreneurs. Becoming a member of our local co-working spot has been one of the best decisions we’ve made for our business. We have built strong relationships with people who have not only become friends and mentors, but many have also become clients and referrals. Our very first clients were women we met at monthly networking events, and we were overwhelmed by the support and trust that these women poured into us, the very support that helped us build our confidence, expand our portfolio, and launch our business on the right foot.
If you don’t have or need a co-working space for your business, the importance of networking still applies. We’ve learned that every day, every situation, is an opportunity to network naturally. It all comes down to being open to meeting others, and introducing yourself and sharing your passion for what you do. Sharing an authentic passion for what your business does is the easiest way to naturally connect with others. Simply saying hello to someone new could lead to a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come. So our lesson here is, be open to all possibilities, to sharing your story, your passion, and your business, and a connection will likely develop naturally.
Business Partnerships Are Like Marriages
When it comes to having a business partner, everyone naturally has different opinions and past experiences. For us, having a business partner has proven invaluable to our business in so many different areas, and the pros absolutely outweigh the cons. Over the past year, we have held each other accountable, offered timely encouragement, and pushed each other to be a better version of ourselves every day. While our partnership is of a professional nature, we often joke about how it mimics a marriage, (we sometimes call ourselves “work wives”), because, when you spend so much time together on a shared interest, communication and aligned values become essential to maintaining a lasting partnership.
We work hard to value each other’s ideas and opinions, while always pushing to make our business stronger and share a unified message of our values and vision. It may take time to talk things through, but we believe that it’s always worth it. Understanding each other and becoming better friends has also made a huge difference in our partnership; we appreciate each other’s differences, learn about our Enneagram numbers, and consider how our unique outlooks always lead to a more creative and polished outcome.
You Have To Hustle (Within Work Hours)
The development of our business structure was very organic, but it quickly became clear that we both placed importance on having a fulfilling personal life. While we both absolutely love our careers that we have built with Foxtrot Branding, we naturally left space in our lives for friends, family, and travel. From the very beginning, we slowly set up systems and a “company culture” that encouraged us to keep work within work hours (for the most part).
Some entrepreneurs plan to grow extremely quickly and work around the clock, but that has never been our goal. We want to work hard to organically grow our business at a consistent rate while maintaining a strong life balance. We believe that you can be a hardworking entrepreneur and also have a fulfilling life full of family, friends, and extracurriculars. Yes, there will be times when work after-hours has to be prioritized more than someone who works an 8-5 office job, but you can absolutely be a successful entrepreneur with a balanced life.
We’re All In This Together
*Cue Troy Bolton from High School Musical*
It’s hard sometimes feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing when first starting a business. We struggled a lot with feeling like we’re always trying to figure things out. Being an entrepreneur can feel unstable sometimes, having to be the one person that does all the things for your business, but what we’ve learned from our community of local entrepreneurs is that NO ONE ever has it fully figured out. People we’ve met who own successful 6-7 figure businesses have said they struggle with this, too. We’ve learned that even if you’re doing everything right, you may still feel like you’re a chicken running around with its head cut off because there’s no exact rulebook for how to be a successful entrepreneur. It comforts us to know that we’re not the only ones who feel this way, and we want you to know that you aren’t alone either. As our favorite middle school crush, Troy Bolton, once said, “we’re all in this together.”
We are so grateful for the support of all of YOU, our family, friends, co-workers, mentors, clients, and our local community. Having a community that believes in us and helps lift us up plays a huge part in the fact that we're still standing when so many young businesses fail in their first year. So THANK YOU. Thank you for helping us be part of the statistic of young female-owned businesses that are THRIVING in their first year, not failing. We love you all!
- Amanda & Cassidy