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In 2013 I made a life changing decision. I decided to “take a break” from my dream job, which while amazing was also fast paced and demanding. I gained valuable experience, opportunities, connections and more as a law firm partner, but my personal life suffered.
I was fortunate enough to have financial success that allowed for a break, and this tough decision catapulted me to become a full-time businessroundups.org. While I miss some things as part of a law firm, I love being able to set the pace of my own life and still helping others every day, just in a different way.
Becoming a business owner has revolutionized my understanding of the realities of running a business. I now believe that you can’t tell someone else how to run their business if you’ve never successfully run one yourself. In honor of 10 years as a fully self-funded female businessroundups.org, here are ten things I learned.
Related: Are you a business owner or an businessroundups.org?
1. You can actually start your own business and be successful!
It was never my intention to become an businessroundups.org. However, after I decided to take a break, I was asked to consult with lawyer friends who had previously been competitors. Unlike work, it sounded fun, and I was able to do it while having “a break” from the law firm. Ten years later, I lead a team of marketers and work with law firms across the country to help my team members and my clients succeed.
Related: 10 tips for the first-time businessroundups.org
2. No matter how good you are at what you do, some people will still treat you like you’re not
You would expect that after more than two decades as a lawyer and earning awards in the legal industry and awards for the marketing industry, those I talk to and work with will always treat me with respect. You would be wrong. No matter how many years of schooling, degrees, years of experience and awards you have, some people will always try to make you feel small, treat you like you don’t matter and belittle your abilities.
Don’t work with those people. Don’t hire those people. Don’t allow those people to affect your energy and success.
3. You can’t control your customers, you can only control how you respond to them
Most marketing agencies do not refund client money once it has been paid. I used to feel the same way – I did the work, you paid me and I deserved to be paid. Fear of having done a bad job, fear of not being able to pay that money back and fear of that customer keep owners myopic. Success has given me the privilege to evolve.
I had a client who was negative and abrasive and refused to cooperate. Even though we delivered everything they paid for, the company was still dissatisfied. So I fired them and paid back every penny of their money. Although my company lost money because of this, the financial price was worth it.
4. You don’t need a physical office to be a seven-figure company
I have spent my legal career in business attire in a professional environment in office buildings. Once the pandemic hit, the gorgeous corner office on the top floor of a building in my neighborhood that I’d painstakingly searched for and decorated became a source of stress. Our team became remote, not really of their own free will, and we have remained that way. Now I don’t pay rent and reallocate that money. I personally miss working together, but my team is thriving. We’ve been able to take on more clients than ever before, all without a physical office.
5. If a new employee bothers you in the beginning, he probably won’t work
A successful businessroundups.org told me that I would know within two days of working with a new employee if they would work. I scoffed at what sounded like a lack of care and a lack of willingness to try harder when boarding.
After ten years, two days still seems pretty fast, but it doesn’t take long to know if a new hire is the wrong one. The longer you wait to deal with it, the worse it gets for the new hire and the existing team. Cut your losses early so that person can move on and you can start looking for the right fit.
Related: Finding, Hiring (and Firing!) Rockstar Employees
6. Limiting the supply means more expertise
As a 21-year-old attorney, legal marketing is my consulting focus. Since there are many lawyers and most law firms are engaged in marketing efforts, I have quite a national marketplace where I can acquire clients. One of my strongest selling points is that I own a niche business that focuses on one industry and am a licensed expert. Expanding into other industries that I know less about and don’t have a footprint in would dilute my biggest point of differentiation. Stay focused and grow within your niche.
7. Saying “no” creates space to say “yes” to opportunities you don’t know about yet
It’s scary to say no to paid opportunities early in your company’s life, but remember that every assignment is a partnership and you should only work together if it can be mutually beneficial. Avoid doomed collaborations up front.
Measure compatibility by paying attention to how they talk to and email you, the “story” of how they got into their current position, and more. Each client you work with could be at the expense of another better opportunity that you may not be aware of.
8. Being your own boss is addictive
Over time, being my own boss has become a commodity of great value to me. I really enjoy the fact that I don’t have to ask permission to spend an entire weekend day with my kids undisturbed. The scary part of being the boss is being responsible to yourself, your team, your clients and many others, but the benefits of determining how you handle those responsibilities are worth it.
Related: 5 Essentials To Succeed When You Become Your Own Boss
9. Set boundaries early and don’t compromise
Boundaries are important in both our personal and professional lives. The legal industry cultivates a culture of constant availability and immediate response, which is stressful. Now that I run my own company, I make conscious choices to shape our corporate culture differently.
No one on my team has to work outside normal business hours. No one on my team has their work email address on their mobile device. I no longer give customers my personal (and only) mobile phone number. Setting such boundaries makes work healthier and more productive.
10. If you can’t pay yourself as an owner, you’re not doing it right
A surprising number of entrepreneurs that I consider successful can’t and won’t pay themselves at all. Their businesses generate insufficient revenue to enable the owner to earn an income. If you can’t pay yourself (after a reasonable start-up time, of course) you won’t pass. You need to reevaluate your financial position, overall business plan, and whether or not owning a business is the right choice for you.