mistakeA couple of weeks ago I talked to a woman who is on the verge of starting a business.

This made me think back at how I started my business 11 years ago – and how far I’ve come since then.

Part of what I learned comes from mistakes I made and things I screwed up.

In this article I’m sharing a selection of 3 huge mistakes I made in the past 11 years with you.

Saves you the trouble of making them yourself – you can simply learn from mine. You’re welcome 😉

Here they are, in random order:

Mistake #1: Not. Doing. ANY. Marketing. (At all!)

Oh my. Where to begin.

Here’s what I thought when I just started my business:

I believed marketing was for big companies and/or sleazy salespeople. I, of course, was neither.

And besides, I didn’t need to market my business.

All I had to do was deliver good work. And then my clients would tell their friends about me, and they would tell their friends, and BAM! – word of my fantastic work would spread like a forest-fire.

Ha!

Haha!

Was I flooded with clients thanks to this incredibly well thought out non-marketing marketing strategy?

Much to my surprise (and hopefully not yours), the answer is: NO.

Lesson Learned: when you’re in business, you’re also in marketing. Without it, no one knows you exist. You can’t make enough money, you don’t have much impact, and you can’t really make a difference without it.

Mistake #2: Stepping back when things took off.

Once I learned how to market, I began attracting more clients.

That freaked me out. I felt overwhelmed, too busy, and didn’t have enough alone-time (I need LOADS of that).

Every time I took more action and things began to take off, I stepped back.

Until I felt balanced and recharged again. Then I’d take more action and yes, stepped back again.

That cycle went on for years (and it’s still something to be mindful of, to make sure I don’t step back and hide in my cave for too long).

Lesson Learned: Don’t step back when things take off. Acknowledge what you feel and fear, and move on.

I learned I can trust myself to handle whatever comes my way – even good things like more clients & success 😉

Mistake #3: Being too nice/too soft/a wimp (take your pick)

There’s nothing wrong with being nice. On the contrary. But it’s possible to be TOO nice and give in too much. Which hurts yourself and your business.

To give you just one example:

A couple of years ago I hired someone to do a certain job for me who delivered a CRAP job – and I let it slide too long, because I liked him and felt sorry for him. (Also: I didn’t want to be a bitch.)

I gave him lots of chances. He blew them all and never finished the job.

This cost me A LOT of money, time, energy and frustration.

Lesson Learned:  Be nice, friendly, reasonable and fair – but not at your own expense. It’s totally possible to be friendly AND hold someone accountable to do whatever you hired them to do. Give them a chance to do better, but fire them and find someone else if there’s no improvement.

I made many more mistakes than just these 3 in the past 11 years.

And I’m sure I’ll keep making mistakes as long as I live. Which is perfectly fine.

You can’t get anywhere or get anything done if you’re afraid to make mistakes.

It’s part of learning, growing, doing business and living. Just learn from it and move on to your next mistake 😉

© 2014 Brigitte van Tuijl

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