A Decade of Lessons Learned

This is a very special blog post for me. In light of a recent milestone, I wanted to share something personal with you. I am very proud to announce that this week my company, Strategia Design, celebrated 10 years in business. It is still both surprising and wonderful to think about how far my team and I have come.

When I started my business, my mother in-law gave me a book entitled, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson (it’s a great book, by the way). The premise being that others can take you down a certain road and you may not even notice. As business owners, it is important to realize when your clients are driving innovation and change in your business and when you are headed down the wrong road. Awareness to your strengths and your weakness will help you keep track.

It has been such an exciting journey and I have learned so much, both personally and professionally, along the way. In this post, I’d like to share some of my best tips and advice that I’ve learned throughout the last 10 years of entrepreneurship.

1. Mistakes will happen

Believe me when I say no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time and what makes them valuable is how you handle them and what you learn from them. Some of the greatest companies have made mistakes (we all remember New Coke). I too have made more than enough mistakes throughout my career, but I have faced them head on, owned them, dealt with the consequences, and taken away a valuable lesson learned. Resiliency is one of the greatest leadership qualities, so I urge you to own your mistakes and keep moving forward. Sometimes everyone is just moving too fast and we need to slow down, that is a hard lesson to learn.

2. Rely on mentors and supporters

No one can go at it alone. Someone once told me, “You can’t tickle yourself.” Sometimes you can’t see your own business objectively and you need others to help. Even the most seemingly independent person has a team of people they can rely on or trust. I have had several influential mentors in my life and I credit them with helping me grow into the professional I am today. Having a mentor, supporter or business partner/colleague to rely on will help you work through the challenges and stay accountable. If there is one grand take-away from this, it is don’t be afraid to invest in your development and take feedback constructively. Oh, and don’t forget to thank your mentors and supporters so they know how much you appreciate them.

3. Customer experience is everything

No matter what is happening in your office or life, never forget the customer experience. It is so important. Being prompt, showing respect, wearing a smile and giving great customer service will take you far. At the end of the day, if you don’t have happy clients or customers, then you likely won’t have a successful business. So take the extra time to make them feel valued and important – because they are.

4. Finished is better than perfect

We all get so wrapped up in trying to make everything “perfect” that it often backfires. Sometimes, finished is better than perfect. Now don’t get me wrong, accuracy is key, but perfection is most of the time subjective and self-inflicted. By waiting until something is “perfect,” you are actually delaying your progress and potentially missing out on opportunities. Work hard, put in effort, and deliver high quality work – don’t waste time striving for the impossible “perfect.”

5. Love what you do

I know this may sound cliché, but if you don’t love what you do, then you won’t be happy. It’s as simple as that. You need to discover your passion and run with it. Nothing is more motivational than that. Even in times of stress, I wake up every day and am happy and thankful to be doing what I do. Passion is what ultimately keeps you going day after day.

6. Change is inevitable

Strategia Design is not the same company it was 10 years ago, and our clients and the industry is certainly not the same. Change can be exciting, but it can also be unsettling. Knowing and accepting that change will happen can make it a little easier to navigate. Be open to change and embrace it whenever and however you can.

If you are an entrepreneur, what other tips would you add to this list? What advice resonates most with you? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.