June 28, 2020

Rachel Strella

10 Years In Business: Still On Our Way!


This is the final post in a month-long celebration of our ten year anniversary at #Strella Social Media. The past three weeks, I reflected on the pros and cons of being an overachiever, the importance of core values, and the top blog posts of the decade. Today, I share my final reflections on this milestone.

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When I celebrated my first year in business, a client congratulated me and then said, “The next nine years will be the most difficult.” I thought he was being sarcastic. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that my assumption was wrong. This journey has been filled with excitement, passion, frustration, hope, disappointment, uncertainty, and gratitude. There are so many things that slapped me in the face, but so many great moments, too. It would be impossible to summarize this decade in one post, but I can tell you what remains top of mind as I reflect on this occasion.

Risks are necessary, but that doesn’t mean we have to bet it all. I believe that entrepreneurs must take risks to get to the next level. This has been challenging for me, but I’ve learned that what’s important is your comfortability with the level of risk. I’m a calculated risk-taker living by what I call the 25 percent rule of risk. For example, before I left my day job to pursue the business full-time, I made sure that I had 75 percent of my income covered by the business before I took the leap. That 25 percent that I needed to make up motivated me to make it happen.

Expect the unexpected. If we’ve learned anything from the current pandemic, it’s that things can change at any time. While we sometimes stumble upon a pot of gold, we find unwelcome surprises. I have experienced my fair share of the latter and can say with conviction - the more agile your business, the better. We will never be prepared for everything, but I am a strong believer in planning for the worst (and hoping for the best).

Don’t go at it alone.  I receive guidance from a variety of folks – coaches, my attorney, and my accountant, other entrepreneurs and peer groups. These people have kept me from making grave mistakes, and they’ve supported me when the damage was too late for prevention. The sheer amount of challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs experience can be overwhelming. I never make a big decision or tackle a tough obstacle without relying on others for feedback, and if you have employees you can get software to manage payrolls and more.

It’s OK to be vulnerable. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not afraid to put myself out there. I believe vulnerability enhances our relationships. We are more ‘relatable’ when we are authentic. There’s a stigma that we have to be something we are not – the ‘fake it til you make it’ fallacy. I think it’s important to put your best foot forward, but I also think it’s important to be real.

Work will always be there. No matter how much you work, you’re never done. And, the more you work does not necessarily mean you’ll be more successful. No one knows this better than me. A self-described workaholic, I don’t know how to turn off. I am wired this way. But, there’s a tipping point. You can burn out and push opportunities and people away because you pushed too hard.

Breaks are good for the soul. Some may know that I take a vacation to Jamaica every winter.  When I come back, I feel refreshed and I have a new perspective. But, you do not need a vacation in Montego Bay to take a break. It can be as simple as taking a 20- minute walk or treating yourself to a bubble bath. Those breaks are so necessary, not only for mental health but also for productivity.

We can’t change people. There’s a lot of truth to the statement, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ We can change a lot of things, but we can’t change people. I wasted a lot of energy before I realized this truth. We can only learn to work with people (or choose not to work with them, at all).

It’s OK to be you. In fact, I recommend it! While I have become more aware of my behavior, there are things that will never change. For example, I will always get angry when people make excuses. There’s no stopping it. I can sense the pressure build in my ears and I feel like my head is going to pop off. But, it’s who I am. If you don’t like it, don’t make excuses! 🙃

We are all a work in progress. Last week, I was talking to someone who is looking to leave his day job and run his own show. He asked me if there were times, early in my journey, that I doubted myself. Some call it “imposter syndrome.” I said, sure. And, I still doubt myself! I’ve learned strategies to calm that inner voice, but one thing is for sure – we are never done. We will always be a work in progress.

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Many believe that the majority of small businesses fail in their first year, however more recent data shows a different picture.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of new businesses fail during the first two years, 45 percent during the first five years, and 65 percent during the first 10 years. Only 25 percent of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.

I guess this means I have a few more years of work to put in to make it to that final 25 percent. As my college media professor said at the end of the course, “You have a way to go, but you’re on your way!”

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