It’s almost been a full year of running my business since my last post about the subject — and a lot has changed. Tomorrow will mark the third year of my business Fiona Gobbo Creative and it seemed like a good moment to reflect on what I’ve learned this year.
DON’T EXPECT OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
It rarely happens that something or someone becomes an overnight success. It might seem that way but like they say — behind every overnight success is ten years of hard work. Sure there are people who in a little time frame can achieve mega success but for a lot of business owners that’s just not the case — even if social media tries to tell you otherwise.
And for me it is no different. I’m nowhere near of where I want to be with my business. I’m not making six figures or I can travel the world (not that was the plan any way). I don’t have an almost cult like following that will buy whatever I put out. Would I want to be at that point? Well yeah, it would make my life a lot easier and my cortisol levels won’t spike as much as they do now.
Did I think I would build a successful business by now? Uhm yeah. Unfortunately that is just not the case for me. I’m not not successful btw — I do have work but I’m just not at the level I want to be yet. Last year I wrote that growth was on the agenda for Fiona Gobbo Creative and up until the pandemic took over, I already had more project coming in than last year. Building a business or a brand is just a lot of hard work.
If you want to start a business right now, don’t expect success to come overnight. Put in the work, trust the journey & focus on what you want to achieve with your business.
BELIEVE IN YOUR BUSINESS BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
I’ve been surrounded by business owners my whole life. Most of the people I spend time with are business or brand owners. What I’ve seen that makes or breaks a business or brand is this: mindset.
Whether it is a collective mindset of the company to believe in what they are doing or a person believing in what they are putting out there, it matters that you believe in it. A lot.
You have to show up every day to go to work and have the vision of what you want to achieve. Is it easy? Not in the slightest. Real talk: I’ve quit my business about 6 times in the last year because I didn’t believe that my business was going to work. Or that I didn’t have the right skillset to succeed.
And you know what? When I change my mindset, the fact that I am not a 100% where I want to be doesn’t matter. Because I believe where I am going. I know that being a business owner is in my blood and what gives me most joy when it comes to work.
What really helps me to set the right mindset is to focus where I want to be. What life do I want to build? How do I want to feel? What is different about me as a person than how I am right now? And I start showing up as her. Because that person in the future is already in you.
Second thing that helps me change my mindset from sulking to action is to realize that I have something unique to bring to the table. Talk to your clients right now or a business friend and ask them what makes you good at what you do. Often times, other people will see something in you that you think is not that special. When in all actuality, it is exactly what sets you apart.
And third, let yourself be a starter. I’m such a hypocrite for typing this out tho because if there is one thing my introverted perfectionist ass hates, it is being bad at something. However, when I look back, it is the times that I just mindlessly tried things out that I grew as a business owner & designer. The more I try things out, the sharper my vision becomes. The more I evolve as a business owner.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BUILDING A COMMUNITY
In my three years of having a business I realized that it takes a village — or a big network — to build a business. As an introvert business owner I love working on my own & take the time to reflect. But I’ve soon realized that you need others to build your business.
You need to build relationships with your clients. Nurture those relationships. Show up for them. That is how you build a loyal clientele that will think of you when someone asks for a recommendation, that will come knocking on your virtual door again when they need help & they can have great advice when you need it.
But also, you need your fellow business owners. I’m surrounded by them because I went searching for them. They are the only ones who fully understand how much work, sweat and tears goes into building a business. How many hurdles there are. That a paycheck doesn’t just appear in your bank account.
That doesn’t mean that your none business friends are not able to support you. I actually like having friends that don’t have their own businesses that I can talk to about anything else. Balance is the word you need to chase when you are building your community or support system. You are going to need them.
MAKE MONEY MOVES
Money might not be the motivator for you but in order to make your business, you need to make money moves. Again, I might be a hypocrite typing this because I still have a lot to learn when it comes down to making the right money moves in order to grow my business. It is definitely a topic that is on my mind the most.
And money moves doesn’t always have to be about money. It is also prioritizing what you’ll do first on your to do list — because everything can look important when it is just you. Money moves is mostly about what can you do right now that will help move your business forward.
Is focusing on getting the most amount of likes what needs your focus right now? Probably not if you want to sell your products or services. Likes isn’t the same as money in the bank. Are you building a community among your target audience? Then upping your engagement game on social media can be the thing that will get more eyes on your content. Your money moves are specific to what you want to achieve with your business.
Something I’ve also learned is when to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to doing things for free or at a low price. FYI — in most cases it is a no. But sometimes doing something for a lower price or free can be a money move. A free consultation or introduction can lead to selling a high prices service. That can be a money move that will lead to taking your business to next level.
However, there are also people who will want the best possible product or service but don’t want to pay full price for it. Oh boy will they try you with all types of stories to get you to give them discounts or freebies. In my opinion, when this happens it is not a money move. They don’t want YOUR product or service, they just want something that is cheap with the most benefits for them. That’s when you say ‘no’. It is only going to cost you money — and mostly your sanity — when you say yes.
DISCIPLINE IS YOUR FRIEND
Motivation comes and goes, discipline is what gets you the results.
Everyone has days where they don’t feel motivated. That is why you need discipline — which isn’t easier to create but will help you more in the long run. When you wait to be motivated to work, you will only work sporadically. When you have the discipline, you work even when you don’t feel motivated because you know what needs to be done. Whether you like it or not.
Again, it is all about the mindset you have.
However, I’m a real plan freak but I am also a perfectionist that can’t estimate time even if my life depended on it. That’s why 1) I need someone to keep me on my toes making sure I actually stay disciplined, 2) have to be more realistic about what I can do in a day & 3) need to adjust all the time.
In the three years of having my business this is just something I struggle with. I think it is just one of those things I need to train myself in because it doesn’t come naturally. But the more disciplined I am, the better results I tend to get.
THE NEXT TWO YEARS
The last three years were all filled with highs and lows. Disappointments and wins. Feeling like an absolute failure and feeling like I’m on top of the world. And that’s kind of what running your own business is — it’s a journey with hurdles to get over, it’s the small and big victories and it is the growth you go through.
Although I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be 10 years ago or even two years ago, I look back at it with amazement. It’s the times when you look back that you realize how weird and exciting it is that you can actually say “I’m going to run a business myself” and just do it.
I’m also in a very privileged situation that I have a support system that allows me to experiment with my work and gives me the space to do what I want to do. Not a lot of people have that privilege. Even if it all fails, I can look back and be grateful that I got that space. Allowed myself to try it out and not be crippled by fear.
But what is next?
I think any business owner can agree that the next two years are going to be interesting. Whether you just started or are in business for 15 years, the pandemic has thrown all businesses upside down. Whatever we knew about doing business is going to change.
That doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing. It just means there are new hurdles we need to get over. New tears to shed, things to fail at & disappointments. But there are also new highs, wins & getting back on top of the world.
As a branding strategist & designer I’m depended on budgets of other businesses that are going to be very scarce. Now, I can realize that, crawl back to bed and cry under the sheets. But I’ve actually decided to change the course of my business, make different money moves & am being disciplined to get myself to the point where I want to be. It’s going to be an interesting ride and I’m eager to see where it will take me.