It was November 2013 when we pressed “publish” on our very first website announcing the official start to Skidmore Consulting! A decade has passed since that day and I can hardly believe it! I sit here humbled and so very grateful for the ability to do this work for the past ten years. Being self-employed […]
It was November 2013 when we pressed “publish” on our very first website announcing the official start to Skidmore Consulting! A decade has passed since that day and I can hardly believe it!
I sit here humbled and so very grateful for the ability to do this work for the past ten years. Being self-employed has been the biggest blessing of my working life— a privilege I know many want but not many get. The freedom and flexibility being self-employed offers is not lost on me, not to mention getting paid to sit at Barnes and Noble and write blogs (as I’m doing now!). What a gift!!
Thinking about this huge blessing of entrepreneurship gets me fired up to help more and more of you make money working for yourself in the next decade!
A few Career Highlights:
Seeing so many incredible humans designing a business around the life they want to live— THAT gets me fired up and I truly believe the greatest impact I can have in my work.
This thing we do, working for ourselves, is about SO much more than the money. Amen?! But, I know that understanding the money side empowers so many to do the work they do. And that’s what keeps me going year after year.
Thank you for supporting this small business owning mama, for purchasing our products, reading our emails and blogs and listening to the podcast. Thank you for putting trust in us to help you understand your own money better. From the bottom of my heart, we are truly so very grateful.
From my very first branding photoshoot to my first team member to launching my first course to speaking around the world, a few highlight photos from the past 10 years!
I wanted to take a little twist on the traditional “10 Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Business” and instead share the 10 things I didn’t see coming, the unexpected lessons that have shaped so much of the past decade.
For someone who loves a good plan, expecting the unexpected just isn’t my favorite thing. And as much as I like to fancy myself as someone who likes change, I just really don’t! I like doing things the way I’ve always done them and getting the same results. I like feeling comfortable. I don’t necessarily jump at the chance to get outside my comfort zone.
Years ago a friend and client of mine, Britt Bass, told me “the only constant in business is change” and it’s just so true. You figure out your Instagram grid and then the algorithm changes. You find a product people love, it sells like hot cakes, and then it doesn’t or a competitor introduces a similar product.
Innovation is key (but shouldn’t be the goal).
Let me explain. Instead of trying to be different, I have found the best way to rise above trends and changes and things that are out of our control is to constantly be asking how we can serve our clients and customers better. What do they need? Keeping a pulse on what our audience wants and needs and asking how I can show up and serve is the way I have found to innovate and change without succumbing to trends or following a path that doesn’t align with who I am.
To be clear, this isn’t my quote… though somehow we had a post on Pinterest go viral years ago so a lot of people think it is. But it’s so good and very very true.
For years, I did not see how special I was. I did not see how unique making people laugh from a speaking stage really is. I did not know that I had a gift for making money feel simple even for self-proclaiming “non-money people”. And I did not know how important it is to believe in yourself and the value of the work you provide.
I grew up in a culture where humility is valued and I didn’t know how to be confident in my God-given gifts, and market myself and the work we do without feeling like I was losing a bit of that humility.
This quote reminds me that showing up as yourself is the best way to enjoy your work and love your people without worrying about what others are doing or saying or copying … because no one is YOU. and that truly is powerful.
In the words of Robin Williams, “beeee yourself!”
I had to throw in a little car reference for my hubby here! This is a phrase used in racing that Kyle shared with me years ago and it stuck. Smooth is fast.
Clunky processes, too many irons in the fire, trying to accomplish too much too fast — slows down growth!
Simplify the process, work out the details, make something better before moving on to something else. Slow feels painful and often counterproductive – but I have found in the end that taking the extra time to give our best work our best, produces the greatest results.
Said another way, less but better. An idea attributed to designer Dieter Rams and implemented by companies like Apple, simplicity matters. Or take my favorite business book, Essentialism. To put your efforts in one direction will get you a lot further than giving the same effort to 10 ideas.
I am someone who gets very excited about new ideas and then tends to tucker out about 70% of the way. While I haven’t perfected it, I am working so hard on following through on very few ideas. Making our products better, perfecting one or two marketing platforms instead of trying to master them all.
Smooth is fast.
In a world of shiny and flashy and do it all mentality, truly I have seen this play out time and time again. Be the best at the few things that matter, and honestly you can forget the rest.
Zig Ziglar said it best, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
In the beginning of my business I focused on helping as many people as I could and getting better at my craft. I didn’t think about Instagram strategy or consistently showing up online or even sales funnels. While all of those are good things, I still believe the best use of my time is to think about and become obsessed with being the best at my craft— and therefore producing the best work that helps as many people as I can. That’s when my most creative, original, and impactful ideas come. And when you truly impact the lives of your customers, they share.
Never forget that you are in the solutions business. Every great product or service solves a need, want, hope or dream. Be obsessed with understanding who you are serving and why, that’s how you’ll make great products or provide a great service.
In other words, surround yourself with other business owners you admire (and turn down the volume on everyone else). I take this as far as limiting the books I read on business, the podcasts I listen to, and the newsletters I subscribe to. Honestly, I don’t follow or listen to many people who talk about business.
There are a lot of good things you can do to grow your business – in fact, an overwhelming amount of tasks and to-dos that could move your business forward. Years ago I told my friend Ashlyn, “as business owners we must learn to be professional sifters— say no to the good to make room for the great”. As I teach all of my students in The Blueprint Model, there are truly only a few, very few things, we have to get right in business to be successful and make money.
Pretty much everything else comes after what I call these 6 essential building blocks. Learning to decipher the good things in business from the ultimate things is key.
Too much noise is the enemy of progress
Years ago I heard an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, she said “passion is a one night stand”. Passion isn’t constant though we wish it were.
Wide eyed and full of excitement I jumped into business ready to help business owners with the business and money side of their businesses. For the first few years it was all adrenaline which carried me through seasons of overwork and even burnout.
While I love what I do and the people I get to work with, so much of entrepreneurship is mundane— just showing up. One step and then another. Not every day is going to feel shiny and fun, and some days it won’t feel dreamy at all.
About year seven things started to shift for me. I took a year off the business and found a very unexpected perspective that changed everything. Passion is fickle. And while I doubt many of us want our businesses to feel like a “job”, when I started treating my work like a “job” instead of who I was … it made me enjoy the work even more.
There is so much psychology that goes into growing a business. I think for many of us, our businesses become a part of who we are. So when we get negative feedback, when people don’t buy, it’s personal.
Finding a way to separate my work from my identity has provided such a healthier perspective.
For the past few years, I no longer find my identity in my business. It’s my work, and I love my work. But it’s just one piece of who I am. This perspective has allowed me to take failures as learning opportunities instead of character attacks. It challenges me to grow my business and push for bigger goals and sales numbers.
While I run a personal brand, I am the person, not the business.
Life happens, toddlers get sick, groceries need to be purchased and laundry folded. It’s hard to hold your work time sacred and distractions are inevitable (especially for those of us who work from home) . Sometimes I truly just “don’t feel like it”— working that is.
I have found that if I sit down and just get started usually within 30 minutes or so my focus has come and I am always grateful that I showed up and did the work.
With that being said, create a space for deep work. If you work from a desk in your bedroom, which I did for years, how can you set yourself up for success? Noise blocking headphones maybe?
If you have little people at home, could you do mom swap days to get work done distraction free?
For years, I prided myself on being able to do it all. Embracing that I am prone to distraction has really helped me identify and communicate how I can be successful in both my working time and home time. And in those sweet passing moments when you actually get to focus on work, get started on the most important tasks first (and please, turn off notifications already!)
As I mentioned in #6, I do believe it’s healthy to separate our business from our personal identity. With that said, as a small business I believe we should run decisions not just from a “what makes sense for business” lens, but “what makes sense for me” lens.
Just because an offer is most profitable, but not enjoyable, doesn’t mean you need to keep it.
Good for you can mean good for business!
Hello psychology degree. I should have known this one from day one, but I never gave enough credit to the power of our minds.
Speak truth over yourself often.
That’s one of the reasons I love My Blueprint Year journal, it’s setup to help me reflect on the good, celebrate wins, and keep what matters most top of mind.
Whether it’s a vision board, quotes your love, writing on your mirror, finding a mastermind —the words we say to ourselves impact our success.
For years I did business pretty much on my own. I talk to entrepreneurs every day, I have a very supportive and smart husband, and I have had team members that all are entrepreneurial minded. So, I thought I was good in the “surround yourself with people” vibe.
Honestly, it was just this past year that I realized how much I need other voices speaking into my life and business. I have never joined a mastermind because I was worried about people giving me more things to do when I already feel overloaded, but for the first time ever it’s something I’m considering more.
Recently, a friend of mine mentioned a “board of directors” they assembled to speak into their business, I thought that was a really cool idea.
While I don’t yet know how this will look for me moving forward, here’s what I do know: Find voices that inspire you and encourage you to dream bigger without the pressure of more to-dos. I think these are the best voices we can have around us. Whether that’s friends and family, our team, a paid mastermind, or 1-3 voices on the internet — find people that push you without rushing you.
Business is hard. Playing every role in business is hard. Being a great money manager, marketing maven, the best at your craft, and kind to people who aren’t always kind – is all hard!
As Bob Goff says, “you don’t need a mission statement, you just need to know what you want.” Never forget why you started this business, why you are pushing so hard, keep your life vision top of mind. And know that you can change your mind at any time: on your offers, on your team, on the way you do business if something no longer fits.
There you have it, 10 Unexpected lessons learned in 10 years of business.
While a lot has changed, one thing hasn’t…
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I have Dolly Parton to thank for my business mantra that has served as the guiding light for my own business and what I teach other entrepreneurs every day.
Whether you are still dreaming of starting your own business or passing your own business milestone, I hope more than anything we can remember that business is a marathon not a sprint. Keep believing in yourself and keep believing in your dreams!
Here’s to the next decade!
December 28, 2023