Dazed, excited, nervous, ambitious, self-conscious, muddled, driven, scatter-brained. These descriptors all accurately apply to our state of mind right now, mid-launch of our rebranded business. I know we have SO much to learn going forward, but there are still a few crucial lessons we have learned in the first few months of launching a new business that I would want myself to know if I did it all over again. Our team has gleaned so much help listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and watching tutorials made by those who have found the optimal way to run their home-based business, and we are so grateful for their expertise. However, as we drown ourselves in all the information from the pros as to how to get everything picture-perfect (literally), we want to remember how we feel right now, in the midst of the crazy, before we have everything figured out.
I don’t have an Insta-worthy house right now. I don’t feel like I have many unique nuggets of truth to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs. But I want to remember, to remind myself, of what this is like and of the small but crucial lessons we have learned during our first launch. Maybe you are in the same place. If so, welcome to the trenches! We will continue to share information about systems, programs, apps, and advice we have appreciated in this season of our baby business. For now, though, here are some down-to-earth, learned-the-hard way lessons from my first few months in family business:
1 – Invite feedback.
Of course we always want feedback from our customers or clients in the form of likes, follows, reviews, and comments. I propose, however, that the most important feedback you need to pursue before and during your launch should be that from trusted friends. Ask a friend who knows you well and will tell you the hard truth, if necessary, to help you evaluate what you are doing.
The friends you seek out don’t have to be professionals in your area; their input is valuable because they know you, and as a consumer with an outside view on your business, they can help you see how other consumers perceive your business. t’s so easy to get tunnel-vision when your up to your ears in your launch, and the objective perspective of a friend can save you from trouble you didn’t know you were inviting.
2 – Set boundaries.
Granted, launch time is insanely busy, no way you cut it. But in the end, you always need to sleep, you always need to eat, you always need to take care of your health, and you really need time with your community. There are those weeks when you will need to eat reheated (or cold) leftovers off of paper plates because you haven’t had time to wash dishes; no one should expect a relaxed, perfectly-paced launch. My point here, though, is that knowing that the launch season is going to be crazy busy and taxing in every way, we should be realistic and guard the essentials in our life with an eye to preventing burnout and maintaining sanity.
Boundaries need to be specific. For example: work ends at ___ o’clock (12 PM, in our case!); don’t bring work to the dinner table on Friday night; don’t check your social media business accounts until after your morning routine; do keep that longstanding commitment to play ultimate frisbee every Sunday afternoon; etc. One of my university professors, Gunnar Gundersen (who was insanely productive but always so calm), often encouraged my class of stressed-out, upper-level students: “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” As busy and full as life will be, pace yourself. That way you’ll be able to keep going. For more on the importance of rest, check out Lindsey’s fantastic post, “The Value of Rest in Productivity.”
3 – LEARN from the pros.
Inundate yourself with all the best information you can get your hands on. Advice abounds in the form of books, podcasts, seminars, blogs, etc. Doing your research and learning from those who have already ventured into businesses similar to yours can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Our generation has a “skip-the-user-manual-and-figure-it-out-as-you-go” mentality, but taking this approach to business can be dangerous.
WARNING: don’t convince yourself that pinning a bunch of articles on successful entrepreneurship counts as learning. for more on this, see my post “Don’t Drown in the Internet.”
4 – Reflect.
In the midst of insane busyness, it is so easy to think that reflection is not an important practice, that you don’t have time for it. But friend, there are few things that you could do in your first year of business that will be as beneficial as simply taking a breath and looking and thinking about what you’ve done and how it has gone. Schedule some time, with your team or by yourself, and look over what has happened so far. I’d encourage you to do this every week, even. Just a few minutes of reflection, especially during the first months before and after launch, will help you to acknowledge & correct mistakes or weaknesses and recognize & buttress strengths. This will save you a lot of grief in the long run, and is something our team tries to practice weekly!
5 – Don’t be discouraged.
Very few start-ups become sensations overnight. Just because you aren’t making millions and followed by an equal number of people on social media doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress. Measure yourself against the goals you’ve made, not against the marketers or companies who have been at it for years. Stable foundations are laid slowly but steadily more often than not, and steady progress is far more sustainable that inflated, “shooting star” growth.
I hope these little lessons I’ve learned the hard way help you to avoid some of the mistakes that are easy to make during a launch!
Born a world traveler, Caitlynn has settled in Cleburne to continue doing what she loves – investing in her family and community while capturing beauty with her camera and her writing. Caitlynn also has a background in customer service, administrative support, and sales. She is married to her highschool sweetheart, Ryan.