My first year in business brought a lot of lessons. I’m forcing myself to look back and reflect, (that sort of thing doesn’t come naturally to me), but in doing so, I found 19 lessons I learned in 2019.
(FYI – 19 is A LOT. This got pretty lengthy. But there are some valuable nuggets of truth in here that could be helpful to any business owner.)
1. Mindset actually does matter
Let’s start off with a bang! This is my BIGGEST lesson from the entire year. My first mentor in January of 2019 told me how important mindset work is right off the bat. And I promptly ignored her.
I was convinced that all the tangible things like setting up a website, growing my Instagram following, doing Facebook lives, and sending emails were MUCH more important than working on anything going on in my head.
Then I started hearing it over and over again. “Your mindset around money directly relates to how much money you will make.”
When I heard the “greats” in this online business world talking about “mindset” more than anything else, I finally decided to pay attention. And you know what happened? I discovered a whole mess in my mindset around money and a lot of work to do!
The best part? When I started doing the work, it worked! My mindset and limiting beliefs truly were holding me back. And not just about money… my mindset around my ability to be successful in general was not where it should be. It didn’t line up with the mindset of successful entrepreneurs!
Now I know better, and mindset work is part of my weekly routine.
2. The power of investing in yourself
Whew, this was a big one. I invested quite a bit in myself this year. Thousands. One year ago, I would have told you there was nothing that could make me spend thousands of dollars on myself without a guaranteed outcome!
But my word for 2019 is “listen” and that’s exactly what I did. I listened to that God nudge that told me to take a big leap of faith. More than once.
And the results have been incredible. I’ve learned from the best. I’ve made amazing connections that led to multiple new clients. And I’m part of a circle of online entrepreneurs who are absolutely killing it.
Those big investments forced me to show up for myself and my business when I felt like taking a nap or catching up on the oh-so-many TV shows I used to watch. The transformation is in the transaction, friend. (Credit for that line goes to James Wedmore.)
3. Don’t put the cart before the horse
About 6 months into this year, I was drawn in by the shining light of passive income. I love my client work, but the thought of earning money while I sleep or go on vacation sounded amazing.
Amy Porterfield tells this story about a woman who made 6 figures off of a course on how to make candy apples. I heard that and immediately jumped on the course creation train!
I’m good at what I do. Surely I can teach others how to do it and wake up to hundreds of dollars made while I sleep!
But here’s the thing… if you haven’t been in business long enough to learn what people are struggling with, how will you know what course to create?
And if you don’t have much of an audience, who will you sell the course to?
Of course, there are the rare exceptions like Miss Candy Apples who make thousands of dollars right out of the gate. But for the most part, the proven path requires you lay some groundwork and earn your stripes before you become an expert who can teach a course that sells.
4. Comparison is a trap in business, just like in everything else
You always hear about moms falling into the “comparison” trap, especially with the invention of social media.
Are you living up to the “Pinterest mom” label?
Do you volunteer enough at your kid’s school?
Are your Christmas cookies made from scratch? (NOPE, lol.)
This also happens for entrepreneurs! And it was a trap I didn’t see coming…
I’m surrounded by other entrepreneurs all over social media now and it is SO easy to start comparing their progress to my progress…and then start feeling bad about where I am right now.
Even in business, social media just shows the highlight reel.
People don’t always talk about how many years it took to get the place of 6 or 7-figure success.
It took me about 10 months before I started regularly reminding myself that none of these amazing people were an overnight success!
I should be pretty dang proud of what I’ve accomplished in my first year of business… and STOP comparing my Year One to their Year Five.
5. Be careful with your domain name choices!
This one may seem obvious to some, but it really came back to bite me in the rear.
It took me weeks to come up with my business name – Pursuit of Peace – and I loved it! But the domain was taken, and I was planning to be a Virtual Assistant at the time, so pursuitofpeaceva was born. I used it for my URL and all my social media handles.
Unfortunately, about a month into it, I realized I was meant to be a copywriter, not a VA.
And while Pursuit of Peace has nice alliteration and fits my personality, it doesn’t say anything about what I have to offer.
I had to do a major overhaul to become Copy with Chrissie, which left me wishing I’d been more careful with my original choice.
6. Failure doesn’t exist
There is no failure, only lessons. Each time you “fail”, you have an opportunity to learn something from it!
This is how successful entrepreneurs think. They don’t throw a pity party and wallow over failures. They look at what went wrong, fix it, and try again.
This attitude also means they aren’t afraid to try! They aren’t waiting for the perfect moment when everything is perfectly prepared. They just go for it and know they’ll always learn from the outcome.
7. Prioritizing is WAY more important than I realized
Trying to do ALL the things at the same time doesn’t work. This is pretty obvious to most people.
But what surprised me was how letting my work and family overlap even the tiniest bit was a recipe for disaster.
I got really into business podcasts this year as a way to learn from the best. But I also learned that I have to listen to them on my own time… not when the kids are around.
I tried to listen to them while I cooked dinner in the afternoons… but I was inevitably interrupted 8,000 times, constantly pausing and pressing play.
I got SO frustrated and ended up in a terrible mood.
After a week or two of this, I realized my bad mood every afternoon was due to multitasking in a way that didn’t work for my family.
Anytime I try to squeeze in something work-related while the kids are around, it turns into a mess and leaves me annoyed and frustrated. So prioritizing is key.
Work is reserved for early mornings, nap times, and evenings after the kids are in bed.
All other time has to be devoted to the family. Otherwise we all end up in a funk.
8. Coaches are worth it, in many aspects of your life
Online coaches were not even on my radar before this year. Now I want a coach for every aspect of my life!
Don’t know which direction to go to grow my business? Get a business coach!
Don’t know how to handle tough relationships? Get a life coach!
Don’t know how to handle kids who won’t stay in their beds ever? Get a parenting coach!
Don’t know how to handle disagreements with your spouse? Get a marriage coach!
Don’t know how to stay on track with your health goals? Get a health coach!
I’ve already invested in multiple business coaches and a life coach. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from the experts?
9. Specific goals matter
I’ve never been great at setting specific goals. It always seemed like a waste of time. I have a vague idea of what I want to accomplish and do my best to make it happen.
But specific goals are much better motivators. They require more concrete action. And they give more cause for celebration when reached!
I definitely see more progress when setting specific goals.
10. People don’t really understand the WAHM life
When you work from home, people don’t really think of you as “working” in a way that can’t be interrupted or postponed.
I set aside two mornings of the week this fall, when all 3 kids were in school, specifically for work. The house was quiet, and I could really focus for 3-4 hours and get a lot done!
But a lot of people viewed this as: Chrissie is free Tuesday and Thursday mornings because all her kids are at school!
No, I’m not free. I’m WORKING, just like all of you who go to jobs at a physical location.
I can’t just choose to go on coffee dates or attend events or chat on the phone because my kids are all out of the house.
(Well, I guess I technically can choose to do that if I want to… that’s the beauty of working for myself. But then I have to make up those hours somewhere else, which usually means working late into the night.)
If you know any work-at-home-moms, please respect their workdays/hours as if they were going to work like anyone else.
11. Your family still matters
I think any entrepreneur would say “duh” to this statement while also acknowledging how easy it can be to let your family slip into second place.
My copywriting business is my first venture outside of motherhood in seven years. It’s fun and exciting to do something new! And I want to succeed. So it’s easy to put 100% of my time and energy into the business and put everything else on the back burner.
I’ve definitely had a few moments this year where I let that happen. And the outcome wasn’t good for anyone. Family still has to come first. Otherwise all the success in the world won’t matter.
12. Followers don’t matter! (But that’s hard to let go of)
As of this writing, I have 473 followers on Instagram. (I had 476 at the beginning of the day. Obviously, I pay too much attention to this.)
I can choose to be excited that I’ve gained 473 organic followers since I started this account last January! Or I can choose to be bummed that the number isn’t higher.
I’m trying to choose to not care at all. But those vanity metrics are hard to get over!
I enjoy my time on Instagram and the relationships I’m building. The creative side of it is a lot of fun.
But the follower number does not equate to the number of paying clients, which is the only number that really matters.
13. Being an introvert is not a hinderance as an entrepreneur!
When I started this business, I felt like it was a great choice for an introvert. I get to work from home, and I get paid to write! That should include very little speaking and interaction with others, right? An introvert’s dream come true.
Wrong. If I want clients, I have to be willing to put myself out there, get on video calls regularly with complete strangers, join groups and interact with others, attend live events and network, etc., etc.
When I realized how much “extroverting” was required, I panicked a bit. Was that really something I wanted to do?
What I’ve discovered is that I actually enjoy most of it, as long as I adequately prepare myself ahead of time and give myself plenty of recharge time afterwards.
14. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to succeed
At first, I thought I needed to come up with a brand new way to do things if I wanted to stand out and be successful. That’s not true!
You certainly don’t want to copy someone else’s work. But there are proven formulas, especially when it comes to copywriting, that work best.
The key is to put your own spin on it and figure out what you bring to the table that’s unique. What will make people choose you over all the other guys?
It’s not about reinventing the wheel… just making your wheel stand out.
15. Deliver before the deadline
I’m married to a military man, so that might be part of the reason that I believe this matters so much.
Have you heard the saying, “If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re early, you’re on time”? That’s how I live my life and how I run my business.
I always deliver projects 24 hours before they’re due and clients like that! They know I’m dependable, so they continue to hire me for ongoing projects.
16. God’s Timing!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” – Jeremiah 29:11-12
Trusting in God’s timing has been a huge part of my growth this year. I so easily become impatient and want things to move faster.
But when I remember to wait for God’s timing, not my own, the weight is lifted, and things come with much more ease.
I can’t force the clients to come or the business to grow. I can just take the next step and trust His plan for me.
17. Consistency is worth it
This is a long game, which I didn’t realize when I got into it. I’ve never been great at the long game… I prefer instant gratification. (Don’t we all?) But now that I’m a year in and starting to see the fruits of my labor, I understand the value of the long game.
Keep showing up. Keep providing value. Keep sending cold pitches. Keep on keepin’ on. I promise it will pay off!
18. Staying comfortable won’t get you anywhere
This has basically been 12 months of me getting out of my comfort zone.
Video calls with strangers are out of my comfort zone.
Anything tech-related is out of my comfort zone.
Pitching my services is out of my comfort zone.
Attending live events by myself is waaaay out of my comfort zone.
But I’ve done all of that and more this year and I’m SO glad I did. All of those things led to lessons, connections, and income.
19. Use free time wisely
Combine being an entrepreneur with being a work-at-home mom and free time is something that rarely happens.
So use it wisely when you get the chance!
Sometimes that means binge-watching Netflix and eating junk. Sometimes that means finally reading the money mindset book. Sometimes that means a nap.
Figure out what you need in the moment and care for yourself wisely.
That’s a wrap!
I honestly cannot believe how much my business has grown in just one year!
I’m beyond grateful to have this business and do what I love every day while still being home with my kids. (Though there are many days when I long for a quiet office with no interruptions!)
My word for 2020 is “growth” … in business, in relationships, in my walk with the Lord.
I can’t wait to sit down this time next year and share the 20 things I learned in 2020!
I’d love to hear about some of your biggest lessons this year. Leave a comment or find me on Instagram – @copywithchrissie – and send a DM.
Happy New Year!
**All photos were done by the very talented Inspired by You Photography!
About the Author: Chrissie is a copywriter by trade, specializing in helping online coaches reach their ideal client. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can help with your copy needs.