In October of last year, I celebrated a major milestone.
The month marked one year from the time I pushed past my fear, stopped questioning my abilities, quit my job, and started my own business.
Oddly though, when that one year anniversary hit, it didn’t feel that much like a milestone.
Like many things I experienced during my first year of business, that day wasn’t at all how I imagined it, and it reminded me of the other surprising realizations I had during my first year of business.
Working for Myself Quickly Felt More Normal Than Working for an Employer
I thought the one-year anniversary of working for myself would feel incredibly special. I thought it would be a day to get a cake, blow out the candles, pat myself on the back, and seek praise for my accomplishment.
But that day almost came and went without me even realizing it. Like most days, my anniversary felt like any other normal work day.
When I started working for myself, the notion that I was on my own was constantly in my head. A little lurking nag was always reminding me — this is it. You are responsible. You better do this right. This is a risk. No one is here but you.
But after a few months, that feeling shrunk. It dissipated and eventually vanished.
Once I set a schedule, got into a routine, and started the real work, I was not only no longer scared or nervously conscious of being on my own. I was completely relieved that I was.
Beginning to work for myself was as scary as I thought, but that feeling vanished more quickly than I imaged it would. It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable, secure, and happy in my new set up.
So, when my one year anniversary hit, I didn’t feel like I needed to celebrate with a breath of relief. It just felt like another day that I was happy to be at a job that I love.
I Didn’t Want to Be Service-Based Forever
When I started Simply Stated Media, I was extremely clear about what I was selling — website development, digital marketing management, and content creation to small businesses.
I filled my client roster with individuals who needed those specific services, and for the first half of the year, I spent my days doing the work I had set out to do.
But then I had a powerful realization — I didn’t want to do this forever.
It was a pretty conflicting thought. How could I be tired of the business I’d just spent so much effort starting?
It took some contemplation, but I eventually realized that this thought wasn’t completely absurd. It made a lot of sense and was something many business owners go through.
I may have started my business with clear goals, but those goals were going to change.
Change is vital to growing and building a business that will evolve with me as a person. I may have started out thinking I wanted to help my clients through service-based products, but now I realize the other ways (through ecourses and coaching) that I can better serve my clients while doing more of what I love.
Investing In Myself and My Business Wasn’t a Luxury, It Was a Necessity
I was scrappy when I launched my business. I didn’t spend money unless I had to, and I made do with what I had.
But there was one area I was okay with spending money — continuing education.
I invested in myself, purchased a few online courses, and attended two conferences because I thought it could be helpful. But what I didn’t realize was that these investments would actually be essential to getting through my first year of business.
While I did put a value on business and personal development, I didn’t place a high enough value on it.
Spending money in the first stages of business is difficult. With little income, courses, conferences, and coaching can feel like unnecessary expenses. But I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that nagging feeling that said, “This isn’t going to be worth it. It’s too much money.”
The money I spent on the skills I learned, the people I met, and the experience I had certainly paid off, and my business likely would not be where it is today without them.
My Personal Brand Mattered More Than My Business Brand
When I launched my business, there was little mention of me on the website or in my marketing promotions. I didn’t want or feel that I need to be a part of the messaging. I thought I was an insignificant part of the business brand and that Simply Stated Media was the only name that mattered.
But I later realized that my personal brand was what was driving my business, and I was doing myself a disservice by not promoting it.
Almost all of my clients decided to work with me because of my personal achievements, recommendations, and portfolio. They weren’t signing up to work with my brand, they were signing up to work with me.
The personal brand that I spent years building (prior to my business) was one of the most valuable pieces of my business.
My digital presence helped me find new clients and establish the trust they needed to work with me. So now, I realize how valuable my personal brand is. I weave it into all elements of Simply Stated Media and leverage it every chance I get.
Starting my business and making it through my first year may not have felt like a big accomplishment at the time. But as I look back, it does feel good to remember where I started and see how much I’ve grown and learned in my first year.
I loved my first year in business — the highs and the lows. Launching Simply Stated Media has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I can’t wait to see what I discover in year two.
Are you thinking about starting your business, and have some questions about what the first year feels like? Or, are you in your first year and have some striking realizations of your own? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments below.