Post written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan
You know that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’ve stepped well outside your comfort zone? You might have a slight headache, your stomach is tight, and you feel anxious all over.
Yep, we’ve all been there one time or another but this is sort of how I’ve felt more-or-less for the better part of the last year. It’s starting to subside but only because the first year of my business is officially under my belt now and I’m starting to relax…a little.
Starting my own business wasn’t something I saw myself doing…at least not at this point in my life…yet here I am. It’s been equal parts challenging, rewarding, frustrating and exhilarating. But most of the time it’s been REALLY FUN!
For any of you that have ever thought about starting your own business, I wanted to share some of my experiences. With that in mind, here are the four biggest lessons I learned from my first year in business:
1. Make Sure You Have A GREAT Support System
My husband, Mic Johnson, is not only my partner in life but also my partner in this business, and he takes his support role VERY seriously. He wears several hats:
He is my behind-the-scenes business administrator handling the accounting, taxes, office supplies and bookkeeping.
He is my accountability partner on projects that I would like to procrastinate on, sales calls I need to follow up on, and new ideas for growth that need discussing.
He is my IT guy when my computer isn’t working or my printer goes down. He is my social media marketer and website administrator.
He is also my BIGGEST cheerleader and supportive rock when I need it the most. Having his support in all of these ways has been critical to the successful launch of this business and to the daily attitude that I bring to work.
2. Know What You’re Selling
For me, the most difficult part of this has been learning to sell myself and the value I bring to my clients. I’ve had to learn that I’m not just selling “me”.
I’m also selling my 20 years of varied experience in this industry, a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, and the reputation I’ve worked hard to develop throughout my entire career.
I’m a savvy meeting professional who can get things done in any situation or workplace. I owe it to myself, my clients and my prospects to embrace this very real part of my personal and professional brand.
These values come with a passion for the meetings industry and a strong desire to help, and work with, people I respect. I’ve learned that if I express these values and my passion during the sales conversation, it’s much more beneficial than a simple conversation about what I charge for my time.
3. Know Your Value
Understanding my value in the marketplace was an ongoing process in the first year. Let’s face it, there are independent meeting professionals, with varying levels of skill and experience, who work for fees over a very wide range.
I’ve had to learn to embrace where I value myself and my time within that range. Mic always says “You don’t expect to drive a Lexus for the price of a Pinto, do you?”
Know your value – learn how to communicate it to existing and potential clients – and then feel confident even when your value doesn’t match up with a potential client’s expectations.
4. It’s OK To NOT Work (sometimes)
I’ve learned that I don’t need to be at my desk “working” for 8 hours a day to get things done. Part of the benefit of being your own boss is letting yourself have some flexibility in your day/week.
I’ve learned to love working from home because I save time by not putting on makeup and business clothes every day. I save time by not commuting to an office and making quick lunches at home.
So, when I want to take our dog, Hinrich, for a walk in the middle of the afternoon, run an errand around lunch, or take a quick afternoon ‘siesta’, I simply allow myself to do it and not feel guilty.
I get plenty of work done too. I just have learned to find the balance that is critical to give my best self to my work and to my clients. The happier I am in my life, both personally and professionally, the more effective I am at running my business.
I’m off and running in Year 2. Lots more lessons to learn.