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5 Business Lessons I’ve Learned in My First Three Years: How to Avoid the Pitfalls & Succeed

I learned 5 valuable lessons that helped me keep going and survive my first three years in business.

Since launching KVDB, I have been asked a few times to share the business insights, life lessons, and learnings that have helped me stay the course and grow KVDB to where it is today. Over the last three years, I have learned to be resilient, to focus on what I can control, that a positive attitude will keep me buoyant on dark days, and to be kind to myself when things do not go as planned.

I have learned many lessons from chasing perfection as It limited what I could and did accomplish to how comparing myself to others wasted my time, drained my energy, and stopped me from doing anything on or in the business. I had to learn to accept making mistakes and that things will go wrong, and when they did, I had to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.

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“Don’t lose your confidence if you slip, be grateful for a pleasant trip, and pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.”

~ Dorothy Fields

My business life is a journey; the same business lessons I have learned also apply to life, so here I share a shortened version of my top 5 life and business lessons with you.

1. Resilience is essential for success.

I have had many challenges and lessons along the way and learned resilience is essential for success. When things get tough, I know I can keep going. I’ve learned to bounce back from setbacks, accept that I will make mistakes, outsource what I am not good at, and learn from other business owners.

In my first year of business, I was too proud to ask for help; I was taking discovery calls, giving too much information away, not charging my time, and was too polite to ask someone to pay even if they kept me on the phone for an hour and a half. When I did charge someone, I was charging too little; I had not factored in the actual cost of running a business and was running at a constant loss.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas Edison

I remember the day I realised I was not charging enough; raising my prices was scary, it meant I had to be strong, and I had to believe people would pay for my services and pay fairly; I took a leap of faith, asked for help and guidance from other business owners who generously shared their business insights and lessons learned with me,

I found my inner resilience and courageously lifted my prices; this time, adding them to my website, my phone stopped ringing, and at the same time, I stopped working for free; I found time to focus on creating content that resonated with my clients, I produced short-form videos and eBooks to help others which I give for free because my clients pay me.

Having the resilience to take that leap of faith and raise my prices, accepting I would take a short-term hit for long-term financial gain, is a powerful lesson and one I am glad I can share.

2. It’s important to focus on the things you can control.

There will always be aspects of the business that are out of my control; I’ve learned that it’s essential to focus on the things I can control. This means focusing on my actions and decisions and not worrying about things I can’t change.

When I initially launched the business on social media, I ended up down a rabbit hole, comparing myself with established companies and entrepreneurs. I would read their socials and wonder how I would ever achieve what they had.

This was a terrible thing to do; I ended up feeling like an imposter; by comparing myself to other business owners and entrepreneurs I thought I fell short.

One day I said STOP IT. Comparing myself to others was getting me down and stopping me from doing; it was time to regain control of my mindset; I sat myself down, gave myself a performance appraisal, and looked at what lessons I could learn. I learned I am my worst critic, to accept my strengths and weakness, and to focus on what I can control.

Once I had finished my appraisal, I took these lessons, focused on my goals and objectives, and stopped worrying about my competitors’ actions. This led to more speaker bookings; I was nominated for awards; as I grew, I could see what my strengths and weaknesses were; I accepted help with the website, I employed a Virtual Assistant, and now I focus on what brings money to the bottom line, outsource what others can do better and quicker and invest funds back in the company.

Business lessons talks - Kirsty van den Bulk, Women in Business, Oxlep Guest speaker
3. Having a positive attitude is essential.

When I first launched KVDB, I faced enormous challenges; I lacked self-belief. I remember looking at my computer, wondering why I had decided to launch a business in the first place; I was picking up our daughter from reception class, thinking how worthless I was because I did not fit in. I was the oldest Mum of the year; I was also not earning as the business was in its infancy.

Through this crazy time, I made friends with the other school-run parents; they helped me to navigate and connect with my life in the corporate world; I was able to celebrate what I had achieved, and better still, the school parents understood the loss I felt as our daughter started school.

During Covid-19 I had stopped working to focus on our daughter; I had become her stable rock; in return, she had become my focus. As I started to work on the business, I reconnected with my life as an actor.

Through this time, I had been shedding parts of my life, connecting with others, and pulling all my life experiences together to create a unique communication company that was 100% me. I felt like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis; it was exciting, scary, and overwhelming.

I tested my new business ideas while waiting to collect our daughter from class; I went for coffee, listened to the other parents on playdates, and found I was not alone. I found the courage to network locally and suddenly found I had a new circle of friends, a mix of school parents and business owners. I felt supported, valued, and appreciated, and KVDB grew as I grew in confidence.

“While you’ll feel compelled to charge forward, it’s often a gentle step back that will reveal to you where you and what you truly seek.”
~ Rasheed Ogunlaru

When I get discouraged, I want to sit, drink coffee, and watch a box set for a few hours. When these days come along, instead of trying to push through, I will permit myself to relax; once I have chilled, I can refocus my brain, which helps me avoid crashes and burns. By allowing myself, I create space to rest and find the positive mental attitude to keep doing it.

4. Building a solid support network is crucial.

Building a network of friends from all parts of my life has helped me to succeed; my Mum will tell you I confuse her when I start talking about file formats and many other aspects of running the business; as a small business owner and working mother the clown juggle is a constant and having people around you who understand you, what you are facing and support you makes a huge difference.

Some of the best business lessons have arrived over a cup of coffee where I have shared my frustration with a fellow business owner; I have been fortunate that my network of business owners have been generous to share their business lessons with me and helped me to navigate my way through the myriad of self-doubt and overwhelm.

On top of this, our daughter is getting older and understanding now that Mummy needs time to work and does not get upset as much if I shut the office door; the clients I work with all know I am a working mother, and I would not have it any other way, and then there is Dennis, who is incredible. None of this would be possible without him standing by and cheering me on. I know I am lucky and blessed and grateful every day.

5. It’s important to be patient and persistent.

For me, building KVDB has taken time, effort, and the courage to accept the business lessons my network of business owners offers. I had to learn to accept failure, say goodbye to perfection, and know that I was succeeding by failing and making mistakes.

I’ve learned to be patient with myself and with the process. I know I will eventually achieve my goals if I keep working hard, it may take longer than I want, but that is okay because life happens.

Over the last three years, I have found that my business lessons align with my life lessons. I have learned much about business and myself. I now know that resilience is essential to keep going, that I must focus on what I can control and stop wasting time worrying about the unknown, and that maintaining a positive attitude makes a real difference in how I conduct myself in life and business.

I am grateful for the business lessons I have learned and the opportunities to use these lessons as I live my life. I am excited to learn more and see what the future holds for KVDB.

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