24 valuable lessons that running your own business teaches you

Your business is precious, especially when it sprouts from a creative soul. As empowering as the process is, it can also be downright terrifying as you shift, evolve and grow. Sometimes you get in your own way; sometimes you find yourself paralyzed in fear and sometimes you feel like a hamster in a wheel.

After more than 15 years as an entrepreneur, I’ve had plenty of ups and downs, successes and failures, and learned a whole lot along the way. Thanks to those lessons, I’m now fulfilled, doing my best work and successfully serving others with my gifts.

Experience is priceless and being open to learning both from your own experiences and the ones that other people have is key to finding a success that makes you happy.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned on my business path…

1. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Life’s too short not to laugh and have fun! Business doesn’t need to be serious and somber; in fact, we all produce our best results when we’re actually enjoying the work we do! It’s so important to value and nurture peace of mind, as well as a heart full of joy, love and gratitude.

2. Perfection will only make you feel like you suck

The more I fought, resisted and tried to control everything, the more I suffered and struggled. Striving to do your best is a positive thing, but if you’re trying to be ‘perfect,’ nothing you do will ever be good enough and that means you’ll never be happy. Progress over perfection wins every time.

3. Insourcing is the new Outsourcing

You can learn from others and seek guidance, but make sure you’re not always turning to outside sources instead of going within and acknowledging your own intuition and wisdom. Love yourself. Turn towards yourself and listen to your gut. Develop a nurturing relationship with yourself and see what blossoms and becomes clear from there.

Related post: Cultivating Inner Strength

4. Money is great, but it doesn’t equal happiness

I can be just as joyful, in love, and free with $20 in my bank account than I can with $20k. Your priorities should be fulfillment and being true to yourself when it comes to your business, not the bottom line.

5. Respond with patience and compassion to another person’s disappointment

Rather than getting defensive and angry when someone is unhappy with your opinions, ideas or work, you should aim to be open-minded and receptive to what other people feel. There’s value to be had in every encounter and another perspective may help you see a better path or solidify your confidence in the decision you made. Don’t let pride stop you from looking at the bigger picture.

Related post: Untangling our Reactions with Love and Curiosity

6. Face failure with humility and gratitude

Taking the wrong path or making a mistake is not the end of you and your business dreams. If it goes wrong, you’re just taking a scenic route! Failure is an excellent chance to grow and learn, so own your mistake, accept it and be open to accepting help or advice as you navigate past this bump in the road.

7. Trust yourself

It is SO important to have faith in yourself! Sometimes our heart and our subconscious sends us important messages that our blinkered views or fears try to hide. Remember to trust your intuition and the decisions you make. Developing your own trust within yourself is paramount to anything else you could possibly learn in this sweet life.

8. Strengthen your decision-making muscles

A lack of action is one big thing that holds entrepreneurs back and in my experience, there’s usually a fear of making a decision behind it. It can be scary to commit to something that sends you and your business down one path while rejecting another. What if it’s wrong? Truthfully, it might be, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get back on your path! Don’t be afraid to make the choice, and move forward. Let it teach you and show you the way.

Related post: The Importance of Making Conscious Choices in Business

9. Most things take time

We’ve become used to instant gratification these days, but in truth, the best things in life take time, care and patience before they yield those positive results we want. Remember that the things we don’t think we have time for are usually exactly the things we MUST make time for or everything else falls apart.

10. There are benefits to being at your best

It doesn’t cost anything to be generous every day, but it is certainly a lot easier when you’re no longer in survival mode wondering how you’re going to pay your bills. After all my years in business, I now know that thriving, financially and otherwise, is the greatest gift I can give the world. When I’m taking care of my well being in all areas, including doing what’s required to grow and scale my business in sustainable ways, that is when I’m truly serving the world in the best way I know how.

11. Ask for support…

You can’t do it all yourself and why would you want to? Even if you run most of the aspects of your business, notice how you aren’t doing it all yourself. At minimum, you’re using tools and systems created by other people, so when you serve others, they’re a part of it. You’re a part of a larger ecosystem at work here in the universe, and how you LIVE has an impact on more than you know.

Related post: We Need Safe Spaces

12. …but realize that nobody can do it ALL for you

It’s important to realize you can’t do everything when it comes to your business, but it’s just as important to realize that no one can run your business as well as YOU can. Hire employees, create a strong team and build a great business that runs like a well-oiled machine, but you still must be actively engaged. This goes along with 100% responsibility and not pointing fingers or blaming others. Own it.

13. What others think of you is none of your business

There are always going to be people who don’t like you, so just remember that you’re not working for them. Be yourself, serve those who value who you are, and choose to live by your own standards.

14. We are each unique

Your strengths, your gifts, your style, your experiences, and your voice — all of these are unique to you! You’ll never find success if you try to make yourself something you’re not. Forcing square pegs into round holes means you’ll just end up frustrated. Honor who you are. In fact, if you’ve been shying away from truly stepping into the work you know you are meant to do here…. make a commitment today to begin acting on behalf of the gifts that are coming through you.

15. There isn’t a single ‘right way’

Systems, tools and technology are always changing, so there is never one right way to do something. I see so many of my clients getting hung up on this, and have fallen prey to the fear of not doing it right myself. What’s important is getting good at assessing, making decisions, asking for support, and evaluating the ROI. Again, make the choice and let the results of that bold choice show you the way!

Related post: Systems that Support You

16. A deeper relationship with myself

My strengths, fears, weaknesses, and blind spots have all become clearer in this journey of self-discovery. Being face-to-face with what you don’t know through a major mistake or failure can be painful, but it’s hands-down how we learn the most. I’m grateful to have a deep and loving relationship with my Self after all these years. Self-acceptance and self-compassion are truly the keys to staying connected to ourselves as we evolve and grow in this life.

17. You’ll never know everything you’re ‘supposed’ to know

Accept it now: you will never know how to do everything right or which avenue is the best one to take. As we evolve, we’re constantly in new territory, with new challenges, new fears, and new opportunities to learn. It’s best to embrace the journey.

18. Ask better questions

Never be afraid to ask questions and always take the opportunity to ask insightful ones. In the same way a Pro/Con list can help you make a good decision, asking the right questions will help you see a business idea, strategy or problem from multiple angles or from a brand new perspective. Asking intelligent questions and leaning into your learning edges is the secret to evolving your knowledge and abilities on the path to mastery.

Related post: Working through Resistance on the Entrepreneurial Path

19. Health is paramount

Without mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, we have nothing. Too often we sacrifice our personal health and wellbeing when it comes to our businesses, seeing it as something we can afford to take for granted. However, at the end of the day, if you are completely sidelined by emotions, or bedridden with an illness, you will quickly be wishing you had done everything in your power to protect your greatest resource: you.

20. What you give attention to will grow

As the saying goes: “Energy flows where attention goes.” Instead of bitching about what’s not working, focus on what you want. Embracing this technique will soon produce the results you desire, so watch what you ask for!

21. Structure is freedom

A messy mind is an unfocused mind. There’s a misconception that structure is creative kryptonite, but in reality, it’s too easy to become overwhelmed by disorder. Certain environments and structures can be oppressive, but a little organization can give you a newfound freedom to be creative. So what are the systems and processes you have in place to clear space for you to create? How do you schedule your weeks? And most importantly, how are you also making sure you don’t abandon your own self-care in the process?

Related post: Prioritizing with MIT’s

22. Good communication is essential

Creative focus doesn’t operate in the same brain space as methodical thinking. Sometimes a creative flow can catch us by surprise and it happens regardless of who may be needing our attention. If you’ve let someone down, the most important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up or make up lies that throw you further out of alignment with what’s true. If you are willing to look at your work patterns and know your limits, you can improve your ability to communicate. Even if it means resetting a commitment or expectation, prioritizing communication between you and others will undoubtedly help your business (and life) run smoother.

23. Fear will always be there

Call them what you will — gremlins, lizard brain, your inner critic — but instead of having them drive, make them sit next to you or quietly in the back seat. Don’t fight with them or expect them to leave. Understand why they’re there and then compassionately tell them to sit still and shush. Because you have work to do.

Related: Client Spotlight Interview Series (REALTALK about the ups & downs!)

24. There is no destination

Life, love, business — it’s all a journey until the day we die. We are rapidly and constantly evolving, so never think you’re ‘finished’. Instead, enjoy every moment. Be willing to marvel at how life continues to show you new ways to heal your old wounds, gain fresh perspective, and strengthen your connection to the love and magic all around us.

Tell me, what has running a business taught you?

Willo O’Brien is an international keynote speaker, transformational business coach, and intuitive strategist whose work inspires visionary entrepreneurs around the world. Willo’s unique mix of emotional and strategic support transforms overwhelm into expanded possibilities, and cultivates the grounded clarity, focus, and compassion required to boldly birth big ideas.

As a serial entrepreneur, Willo has founded several creative businesses over the last 15 years. She’s a master facilitator of in-person workshops and retreats, has developed multiple online programs, and has co-created several epic gatherings, including the annual 400+ person event, Yes And Yes Yes (YxYY).

Learn more by visiting WilloLovesYou.com
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Written by

Heart-Centered Entrepreneur, Speaker, Business Coach & Consultant for Badass Activators & Conscious Creators: http://WilloLovesYou.com + Co-founder @YxYY

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