Lessons Learned in Ten Years of Business

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    Photo of Charli - 10 years a Business Owner

    Let’s start with this…Double Digits!!!  Can you believe I have been a business owner for 10 years?!! It’s a huge milestone for an entrepreneur, and I am so happy to celebrate with all of you!

    As I look back on the last ten years, I have so much gratitude for the journey. I have had some huge celebrations and some disappointments and have learned great lessons from both.

    Leadership

    To be an entrepreneur, you must be a leader. You can’t pass this role off to someone else. Even if you have a team to help you, you must understand your responsibility within the organization to lead yourself and your team. When things are hard, it is your responsibility to share the vision toward improvement. As an activator, so many times I am ready to pass off a project to someone else to carry on. This is not possible for your company. It must be a reflection of you and your values as well as taking into account the views of your team.

    I love the work around leadership and developing others. I’ve learned that it takes the individual (me included) deciding to do the work to grow. It really must be their idea. You can suggest and recommend things but a leaders must believe in themselves and their abilities. Sometimes that isn’t natural and sometimes there are limiting beliefs that are keep you from moving to the next level.

    Team

    When I started the company, it was so that I could have a job. I quickly realized in order to grow I would need help. I wasn’t sure who I needed but I knew I needed some help. I needed people around me that had strengths that were different than mine. I also needed someone that could stand in when I wasn’t able to be there. Each person that has worked for us had a significant influence on what the company is today and I love sharing this accomplishment with all of them. I will add, my team that navigated the pandemic and came through to now navigate my absence is showing remarkable abilities beyond my expectations! I am so proud of what we have built at Empowering Brands.

    The Hard Stuff

    I was a mom of three (under 6 yrs old) when I started my company. This was no doubt a challenge for our family and the business. My kids have seen me at my best and at my worst. What I know today is that I am glad my children are independent like their mom and know how to work hard. They also know that rewards come with challenges and the good ones usually come with a lot of hard work. Navigating family life and work commitments for both me and my husband, Carter, was a source of conflict especially when his job would ask why I couldn’t watch the kids every-time they were sick.  I would get so angry as I was also building my business and there was no one else to do it. These were tough days… But I am so glad we made it through it because now, if my child needs me, I can be there. I can be there because we built a successful business and it allows me and my team the flexibility to work and have a wonderful family life. This is so important to me and one of the most rewarding parts of my business today.

    Passion

    You must be passionate about your work! If you lose that passion along the way, you must find it or adapt your business. Burnout is real and you must have purpose alongside the work to keep from tiring too quickly.  For me, it’s my passion for water and empowering women! I wake up on mission each day and that makes no challenge to overwhelming.

    Growth

    Moving forward is essential. When you get complacent, you will soon see yourself or your team falling backward. There is a good way to see this forming… it starts with unresolved conflict. Is there something that keeps coming up but isn’t getting addressed? This is a sign to look for a root cause. Problems are often not related to the obvious.

    Being Present

    The best thing I implemented when Bekah joined our team is a weekly meeting and a Friday email check in. This has allowed us both to grow. It gives her access to me at an uninterrupted time as well as a way for her to keep me informed. There is a trust and accountability for each of us to be there for each other and accomplish our goals along the way. This system has allowed me to fully trust her and her abilities because I know her. I know her because I spend time with her and I believe this makes all the difference.

    Entrepreneurship

    Yes, I had to learn about cash-flow and credit lines. I still think I need more knowledge of investments and finance even if it was my college major. Having said that, these business tips and tricks are the easy part. The tough part of entrepreneurship is believing in yourself. You must have the courage to take risks and believe that you can accomplish your goals. You also need to be able to adapt and move on when things don’t work out as planned. This is all much easier with a network of encouragers! I am lucky to have such a diverse network. It has been key to my understanding in business and company culture as well as benefited me personally when I needed a good high-five !

    So the best advice I can give if you are considering starting a business…Find you a cheerleader, a side of grit, and a list of all things that make you uniquely you. And know…You got this!

    Vision

    I think the role of the person creating the company has to be vision. They must have a clear vision of where the company is headed. This can change over time but I think it the owner doesn’t know what they what to accomplish then it will be hard to get their team to buy into the work. I do believe that each team member can have input into the vision but the responsibility for vision must stay with the creator as the final say. I say this because I believe the team looks to the entrepreneur for confirmation on next steps. I don’t believe real success is possible with a hand off approach unless the creator steps away completely. This is why staying involved with the people, products, and processes is so important for our leaders. We must understand the work we are asking others to accomplish.

    Finding Your Voice

    I think this is my favorite 😉 You must develop your own opinions and values personally and also as a business owner. When making decisions you must understand what your values are and stand by those. This also keeps you from burnout. Constantly working to please others when it isn’t in alignment with pleasing oneself is a recipe for disaster. Take time to write out your values and goals. You will be able to identify what truly matters to you and then use your voice to help create positive change. Whether it’s being an advocate for manufacturing or the new CRM, you decide what you want your voice behind.

    Celebrate

    Don’t forget to celebrate along the way. This is what keeps us energized. Talking with others and sharing in their accomplishments can also really lift your spirits in times when you don’t personally feel accomplished. Just look for ways to celebrate others and then you will see the things you should be celebrating within your own lane as well!  If you need any help, I absolutely love shining the light on others so let me know your story! Your story is so important to share so others can learn from you. A story can set your path in a completely different and perfect direction…be that for others.