KEY LESSONS I’VE LEARNED FROM 9 YEARS IN BUSINESS

KEY LESSONS I’VE LEARNED FROM 9 YEARS IN BUSINESS 900 600 Kari Switala

Create a support network of amazing people you can trust who want to see you succeed.

When I launched Wild Fig Marketing (which was actually called Magnetik Marketing Solutions back then), it was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I had been building my business on the side (working lots of evening hours as I had a full-time job – makes me exhausted just thinking about it) and had planned to quit my full-time job once I had enough recurring revenue. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans and I was laid off before I was officially ready to launch my business. I can remember that moment like it was yesterday. I was so excited to finally be free and to be able to work on my business full-time, but I was also terrified as my financial security net was gone. There were no other options, I had to make it work or give up on my dream.

Fortunately, I had the support of my family and friends and was a part of an amazing networking organization called BNI – Leads to Referrals. I’ll never forget the day I came to our meeting to announce I’d no longer be representing the accounting firm, instead I was going to represent my new marketing business. The members cheered with excitement and one by one came up to me and said, how can we support you? How can we help? In just a moment’s time, my fear was gone – I knew I could do this because I had an incredible support network that wanted to see me succeed!

Understand your strengths and what you are truly good at and hire out the rest!

I think I’ve taken just about every personal/skills assessment out there like DISC, Fascinate, Kolbe, StrengthsFinder, and more! I truly believe I know EXACTLY who I am and what I should be focusing my time on. For those of you who know me, you know numbers and math are NOT in my wheelhouse. Just thinking about my college algebra tests can cause me to start sweating profusely. So, I sought out others to help fulfill this gap. Fortunately, my husband and business partner has a knack for numbers and data and he has been instrumental in helping get our business to where it is today. In fact, if you’ve read the book, Traction, you know that successful businesses need both a Visionary to drive creative thought and innovation and an Integrator to maintain business harmony. Simply put, he’s the yin to my yang!

What are you good at? What are your strengths? Where are your gaps? If you are unsure of how to answer these questions I’d highly recommend taking the time to invest in one or all of these assessment tools:

Create a morning routine and stick to it!

I wish I could say that I learned this lesson early on, but alas it’s one of the most recent lessons I’ve learned. What do I mean by a morning routine? Well, if you haven’t read the book, The Miracle Morning or The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod, I’d highly recommend buying it on Audible or Amazon TODAY. These books are game changers and they are based on the principle of incorporating these 6 elements into your morning routine:

  1. Silence – taking time to meditate. I use the free InsightTimer app and can proudly say I’m up to 8 minutes of meditation a day 
  2. Affirmations – identifying 2-3 hurdles you are trying to overcome such as money beliefs, self-confidence issues, etc. and finding 2-3 positive affirmations you read every day to help you overcome those obstacles (I even put them on the top of my to-do list every day).
  3. Visualization – this is probably my favorite part – I created an awesome vision board to help me visualize what I want for my future. However, yours might simply be one image you focus on, do what works best for you.
  4. Exercise – I cannot tell you how important this is to your success. I am an early riser who loved to get up and start working right away in the morning (usually at 5AM) because I was SO productive in the morning. However, I also knew I needed exercise and was less likely to exercise in the evening after a long day’s work unless that exercise was lifting a glass of chardonnay to my lips. When I decided to switch my routine and instead get up at 4:30 AM and head to the gym (with a bunch of crazy people like myself who I absolutely adore) vs. working, it was a struggle. However, I found after just a week of doing that I had more energy and mental focus than I ever had before. 
  5. Reading – this was pretty easy to incorporate as I ❤️reading and have become a book-aholic.
  6. Journaling – this looks differently for everyone, for me I take this time to write down the 3 goals I have for the quarter and the 3 things I can do that day to get me closer to my goals.

Keep learning, growing and challenging yourself!

On average I read (and listen to) between 35-40 professional development books a year. Side note: I recently became a big fan of audible and find it to be an incredibly effective tool to use while walking my dogs or commuting back and forth to our cabin.

Not sure if reading or listening to professional development books will help you? In a recent article in INC. Magazine, Bill Gates says he attributes his success to reading. In fact, he reads 50 books a year and states that he believes books offer perspective, help stir the imagination and build better communicators too! What are you waiting for people…click on the Amazon or Audible app on your phone and buy a book today! Click here to get my recommended book list!

Find an accountability partner.

This is also a relatively new lesson I’ve learned. After reading and listening to countless books, one of the key suggestions in all of them was to find yourself an accountability partner. Well last year, I did just that. Meet my accountability partner, friend and trainer, Danelle!

For the past year we’ve had weekly calls with each other where we report on how we’re doing with our goals, discuss any obstacles and opportunities and celebrate our successes. The key to a successful accountability partner is finding someone you look up to who is at a similar place in their business and is MOTIVATED to take their business to the next level. It’s also important to put a little skin in the game too. When we first started, both Danelle and I identified a consequence we’d have to face if we didn’t reach our goal that week. For Danelle, it was paying me $200 and for me it was having to do 200 burpees! Needless to say, we accomplished our weekly goal/task every week because neither of us wanted to suffer the consequences. #burpeessuck

Don’t be afraid to hire!

One piece of advice I heard over and over from other entrepreneurs was whatever you do, wait as long as possible to hire employees as it can be a royal pain in the a$#! I heard this so much that I started to believe it, until I hit a point in my business where I could no longer handle the amount of work and needed to hire in order to grow.

Knowing what I know now, I’d have completely ignored that advice. I’m not saying that you should jump into this decision blindly or that hiring won’t add additional complexity to your business. It’s important that you plan for it and have a clear picture of the roles you need to add in your business in order to scale and grow.

I can honestly say, I’ve never been happier than I am today. We have an incredible team of passionate individuals who I absolutely adore. Together as a team we are helping clients, expanding our services and working together to crush our business goals and having a ton of fun doing it!

I also want to take a moment to thank Kevin (who never dreamed he’d be in an HR/CFO role) for helping orchestrate this growth and for handling all of our HR functions!

Put systems in place.

Growing and scaling a business is not for the faint of heart. In order to successfully grow you need to have systems in place for on-boarding new clients, retaining clients and managing the day-to-day tasks in your business.

We incorporated automation into our business about 5 or 6 years ago and it has not only saved us a ton of time, it has helped us continue to grow and expand. A couple of the key processes we have systematized are: client billing, lead generation, onboarding new clients and sales. If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, I’d highly recommend checking out two of our favorite tools: Hubspot & Ontraport.

Have fun and be yourself (and if someone doesn’t like who you are…it’s their loss, baby)!

I believe if you asked anyone who knows me personally or professionally how they’d describe me they would say I’m FUN, creative, personable and that I tell great stories (well, likely everyone except my two teenage boys who probably would describe me as weird or annoying)! The same could be said for those who don’t know me and have simply read one of my blogs, my book or one of my social media posts. This is intentional because I believe people do business with people they know, like and trust. So I incorporate my personality into everything I do because I want to be authentic. When you are, you attract the type of people who will value your skills and who you ACTUALLY want to work with.

Be yourself. Share your hobbies and interests. Incorporate stories into your meetings, networking or any conversation you have throughout the day. I guarantee if you are authentic and you put your WHOLE self out there, the universe will pay you back in dividends.

I hope this article has been helpful, that it’s inspired you to live your best life and that you are able to take at least one of these key lessons and incorporate it into your life today.

Cheers to 9 years in business!