While most consultants are sharing their social media predictions for 2020, I’ve decided to take a moment to reflect on the past year as a business owner.
The year started with some hard knocks that were quite humbling. There were times I was unsure about the direction we were taking and times that I even lost faith. Fortunately, we rebounded. But, this year taught me lessons about what I will do differently in the future. Here are my top business lessons learned in 2019.
Take care of you. About two months ago, I became suddenly ill. Fortunately, I was only down for a few days, but I could not do anything during that time. The irony is that I sacrificed my health for months to try to get ahead – so much so, that I made myself sick and then fell behind. Clearly, the universe does not make mistakes. This experience taught me to recognize that I needed to slow down and take care of myself. As a business owner, this is a fatal mistake. If you’re not well, you can’t lead and if you can’t lead, you can’t grow.
Have the uncomfortable conversation. When hurried or stressed, I tend to gloss over stuff in my rush to do what’s next. I don’t avoid challenges, but I do not always address them as they occur. I discovered this when I started writing down my sources of stress – and creating an action plan for how I will eliminate the root causes. (Read more in this post). Regardless of what I had on my plate, I finally took the time to have some overdue conversations with clients, contractors, and vendors. Ultimately, these conversations were productive because we could be frank, but tactful about our expectations. I’ve seen changes in my relationships, primarily because we now have healthy communication.
We need other people. I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize the importance of other people. In any challenging situation the past year – personal or business – I was not alone. When I was sick, my husband stepped up (even though, he was also sick). When I was unsure about how I would approach uncomfortable situations, my assistant, my Vistage group, and my peers listened and offered guidance. As we faced business challenges, my team weighed in with advice as if it were them at the helm. Every single day, I have someone who keeps me sane, lends an ear or lifts me up. This is a BIG thank you to all of those folks. We cannot go at it alone. Just as I need others, I want to help others. This is an opportunity for all of us to pay it forward - especially me!
If ten years in business taught me anything, it’s that sheer force of will can only get you so far. While we rebounded, I realize that relentless drive is not a sustainable business strategy. We need to take care of ourselves, we need to move past our shit, and we need other people. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year, however, is that I need to keep the faith. There will always be challenges, but as sure as night turns to day, there is also a resolution of those challenges. If we manage well, we can only come out stronger.
What did you learn this year?