Three key lessons to business success I wish I knew when I was starting my entrepreneurial journey

EPISODE 29

Hard to believe that it’s been more than 2 years since I started my entrepreneurial journey! And today I want to share three key business lessons I wish I knew when I was startingso that you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

In the last two and a half years, I have learned a lot of lessons. Some of them are “come and go”, but some have stayed with me and have proven to be the key to success.

And today, I want to share three such lessons – the ones I continue to remind myself of regularly. I am sure you will benefit from them regardless of whether you are just starting, or whether you’ve had your business for several years.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Lesson #1: Maintain your own sustainable pace

I never really have a shortage of ideas for my business. Sometimes I worry that I will run out of them, but then I go for a run and 30 minutes later I have a pile of fresh new ideas to implement.

My problem is NOT having ideas. My problem is having time to execute on those ideas.

I feel like my brain works much faster than my hands. I feel like I never have enough capacity, never have enough hours in a day to get all these ideas implemented. Often it leads to frustration – I wish I could get something done in a week, but instead it takes several weeks.

And when things take longer than you want them to take, it’s easy to start believing that something is wrong with you.

Or, another scenario – you compare yourself to others.

Sometimes you look at someone else, look at their business, and you see that they have more revenue, more clients, they speak on stages, they have written a book. And because you don’t have any of that, you start to feel that something is wrong with you.

This is why it is really important to know YOUR own pace and YOUR own capacity.

Because when you’re comparing yourself to somebody else, you don’t know how many months or years it took them to get to that point. And even if they got there fast, you don’t know how many hours per day they were dedicating to their business.

You always need to focus on how much time you have.

In my case, I have a full time job. And of course, running my business on the side limits my ability to dedicate a lot of hours to it, which I need to constantly remind myself of. Whenever I come up with all those new ideas, I need to be careful and prioritize them properly instead of simply getting frustrated because I don’t have time to get everything done.

Of course I don’t! No one does!

I need to understand how many hours in a day I can realistically dedicate to my business and then based on that, pick ideas that will move the needle most and will create the biggest return on investment quickly.

So, if you are running your business as a side hustle right now, stop guilting yourself into not getting results fast enough – you are getting results as fast as you can.

Instead, find out how much time you really have, and then focus on the right things – things that will create the biggest impact in the time that you have.

Know your complete life landscape

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to understand your FULL life landscape so that, while working on your business, you don’t end up sacrificing your personal time, your family time, or your sleep.

Be mindful of that.

This is why a lot of what I teach students inside the Life Design Academy is focused on creating your holistic life map. We look at ALL the different life domains that you are dealing with: career and business, kids and partner, friends and hobbies, personal space and self care.

These are ALL important, and you have to take ALL of them into account while defining the pace that you want to move your business forward with.

And it has to be sustainable. It has to be something that you can maintain for a long amount of time, while still being able to spend time with your family, and while still getting 8 hours of sleep.

So, if you can only dedicate two hours a day to your business, that’s fine! You can still do SO much within those two hours. All you need to do is stay laser focused on the most important things – on the things that will move the needle most. And you will be amazed how much you can get done in only 2 hours per day.

It is KEY that you define pace that is sustainable for YOU. Take into account your current life landscape, your current season of life, and don’t compare yourself to others.

You are unique.
Your life is unique.
Your life situation is unique.

Remember that.

Lesson #2: Prioritize the journey over the end results

Please hear me out. Do NOT fixate on the end result.

Enjoy the journey.
Embrace the journey.

I know it is easier said than done, and let me tell you a story.

In December of 2022, I decided that I needed to quit my full-time job. I decided that I needed to scale my business fast to the point where it would be bringing me enough revenue to quit my job.

So I came up with an idea of a masterclass that I wanted to launch in February. I spent January polishing some details around the masterclass, creating the landing page, coming up with the agenda for the masterclass, and then I started an active marketing campaign. I created a ton of Facebook ads, and I was getting zero traction.

After 2 or 3 weeks of wasting money on Facebook, I had zero signups. I was getting very frustrated.

I kept telling myself, “I HAVE to get this to work. I HAVE to get some signups. I HAVE to make it work.”

I cannot tell you enough how much it was stressing me out. I was working late hours trying to come up with the magic bullet that would fix all of my problems, that would make this masterclass work. I started having problems sleeping because my brain simply wouldn’t shut down.

Then, one evening I was talking with my husband, and he said to me, ” Olena, you are not yourself. You are very stressed out, you are raising your voice at our daughter. Something is going on with you and I DON’T LIKE IT.”

That conversation was an eye opener for me – it made me stop and reconsider everything that I had been doing, and more importantly why I had been doing it.

I realized that I was too fixated on making that masterclass work. I got so focused on that result that I had stopped enjoying my life in the present moment. I wasn’t enjoying my time with my family, I wasn’t engaged in my full-time job.

And I realized that it needed to stop. My life was happening today, my family needed be today, and I needed to get back to being able to enjoy my life today.

So what did I do?

I let it go.

It took me some time to get settled on this idea, but I decided to cancel that masterclass. I stopped those ads and emailed those few people who had signed up and told them that due to the personal circumstances, I needed to cancel.

It was a hard decision.

It was really hard for me because I am usually committed to getting things done. If I set my mind to something, I want to get it done. And when I need to cancel it, I immediately see it as a failure – my failure.

And in order to help myself get through this, I asked myself an important question: why am I doing it, what do I want to get out of it and whether I want to just host this masterclass no matter what or I want to learn something from this experience?

And I decided to learn.

I decided to stop and analyze why it wasn’t working. I also decided to give myself more space and more grace and to actually stop pressuring myself to quit my job.

I decided to start being engaged with my full-time job again. I realized that the time for me to quit would come. Whether it’s going to be in the spring, or in the summer, or next year, that time WOULD come. But I wouldn’t let it define how I was living my life anymore.

I realized that, in that moment, I had my job and I had my business and I had my family and I wanted to be enjoying my life. So I made a decision to stop setting deadlines for myself around when I want to quit and to start being engaged with my job more.

I started to pay attention to my work meetings, I engaged in new work related activities that I hadn’t really been paying attention to lately.

And it immediately made me feel so much better.

First, those eight hours a day that I was still spending doing my job became much more fulfilling, much more exciting, and much more engaging. And with my business, not having that pressure to make something work by the specific date gave me freedom to execute on my own pace.

And you know what the most interesting thing is?

It actually allowed me to see all other opportunities related to my business that I wasn’t able to see when I was so fixated on my masterclass.

There are studies that show that when people are stressed or are experiencing negative emotions, their vision narrows literally – they are not able to see as well with their side vision as those experiencing positive emotions.

But it’s also true figuratively – seeing opportunities around us. When you are stressed, when you are fixated too much on some result, you don’t see life opportunities that are around you.

And once you begin to experience more of the positive emotions, your vision expands and you begin to see those opportunities.

It was in that moment that I was able to see a way to completely transform Breverie into the life design platform that it is today.

Important warning: Don’t confuse experiencing positive emotions with toxic positivity. Sometimes, when you are feeling sad or stressed, some people might tell you, “That’s not a big deal, good vibes only, everything is alright.”

That’s not okay.

It is important that you take your time and process your negative emotions naturally, and hiding them behind positive emotions is NOT the way to do it.

So what I am talking about is becoming more present in the moment noticing more of the good that is happening around you, recognizing it and appreciating it. Learn to find joy in those good little things that you are seeing every day, but you’re just not noticing them. Start to notice them and appreciate them.

And once you do that, once you let go of those deadlines that you set for yourself, you will begin to see a much broader range of possibilities.

Trust the process

You’ve likely heard this advice before that you need to trust the process, trust the journey. And if you are a control freak like me, it’s VERY hard for you to do. Because you want to have a handle on things, you want to be in control.

But sometimes what you need to do is let go of control, and then the magic will happen.

Then you will see all these other ways to get to your dream end result, all those ways that you wouldn’t have seen should you continue to stay fixated on this result.

Have a vision. Have a clear destination in mind where you want to get to. But don’t let it stress you out to the point that you stop enjoying your life today, in this moment.

Look around.

And you will see how big of a shift it makes in your overall vision, in your overall strategy. Both personal and business.

Lesson #3: Don’t wait for the perfect moment…

Take the moment and make it perfect.

I will say it using the Nike slogan because I don’t think anybody can say it better:

Just do it.

Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Stop waiting for the perfect plan, for the perfect product, for the perfect service. Stop waiting until you figure everything out perfectly.

Just get out there.

Whatever you have right now, put it out there, try it, get the feedback, get results, and then change and pivot.

I have pivoted 4 times in the last two and a half years. And every time it was a result of me putting something out there and seeing what was working and what wasn’t.

It is very tempting to sit and plan trying to come up with perfection. But the more you sit and plan, the more time you are wasting instead of getting real feedback. Because here is the truth:

You will never be able to get to perfection without putting yourself out there first and getting feedback from real people.

Feedback around whether your product will be in demand or not, what value people see in it – this is what you need. And it’s impossible to create that perfect product until you put it in hands of real customers, real users.

And sometimes us striving for perfection is actually a form of procrastination.

You are afraid of failure, you are struggling with imposter syndrome. You feel like you are not ready, like you are not good enough. So you are trying to hide from yourself and you keep postponing that moment of actually getting out there.

Something that can help you get through this barrier is knowing your personal strengths – they are your qualities and abilities help you push forward, overcome obstacles, embrace challenges.

This is why mastering your strengths is another key part of the Life Design Academy.

Inside the program, I help members discover what their strengths are and how they can use them in their day-to-day life, whether it’s personal life, or work, or business. Because once you know your strengths, once you know what you can rely on to push forward, it becomes much easier for you to take that step forward and to put yourself out there.

And you need to be prepared that, once feedback comes, you will likely need to pivot. And that is great.

Because change is GOOD.

Sometimes we feel like having to change something means that we failed. But in fact, that’s the ONLY way to make it work.

Nothing is perfect from the first attempt.

You will have to go through 5, or 10, or 100 steps and changes before you get to that perfect state that you have always wanted to achieve. The ONLY way to understand what these changes need to be is to get real feedback.

And the only way to do that is to put yourself out there with what you have NOW.

It is already good enough. Yes, you will be changing it along the way, and your audience will help you do that. What I have learned is that often what I think is important appears to not be important to my audience. And on the other hand, I receive feedback on things that I would never even pay attention to, but it is important to my customers, to my users, to my members.

And I would never be able to figure it out on my own.

Feedback is priceless.

Understanding real people’s behavior and how they respond to your offering, to your service, to your product is priceless.

And the only way to learn it is to go out there and do it.

Life vision exercise

Here is an exercise that can help you overcome imposter syndrome and to start taking action.

Imagine the ideal future and what it looks like for you.

What do you want your business to look like in 1 year, in 3 years, in 5 years?

Then write it down, but do it in the present tense. Meaning, not “I want to …”, but rather “I have …”

Write it in a way as if you are describing something that you ALREADY have.

Then close your eyes and imagine yourself being in there, feeling it, living it.

How does it make you feel?
Is it really what you are trying to achieve?
Is it really what you are trying to get to?

If yes, if it makes you feel good, if it warms your heart, if it makes you happy, then you are definitely on the right track. And doing this exercise daily, simply closing your eyes for a few minutes and imagining yourself being there already, will help you build that confidence. It will help you become that person who already has it all together, and which in its turn will allow you to act like that person.

But also, what you might discover once you imagine yourself being in that state is that it’s NOT where you want to get to. You might realize that it’s NOT what you want to build. And that is also totally fine because then, once you have that realization, you will be able to make changes accordingly.

Again, change is GOOD.

Anytime you change something, it means that you have learned something that you didn’t know before, that you have become wiser, gained more knowledge, more experience. It means that you now have more information than when you made that decision in the first place, and that is always good.

Embrace the change.

Remember why you started your business in the first place. You started it to make some positive change, to create an impact, to make the world a better place. But also, to make your life a better life.

Your business needs to serve the purpose of making YOUR life better: happier, with more joy and freedom, and more success.

It shouldn’t be the opposite. You should never become a slave of your business. Your business should not be stressing you out. Yes, there might be challenging days and situations, but it shouldn’t be the norm. Whatever you are doing, always make sure it makes you feel good and alive today.

This is key.

Hoping for a better future to come, hoping for things to improve later is okay, but your life is happening now. We don’t even know how much time we have left on this planet, right? And so simply waiting and hoping for the better times is NOT why you’re here.

You are here to be living your life to the fullest TODAY, and this is why you started your business. To make your life fuller, more exciting, more successful.

So do that.

Whatever it takes, do that. Because you got it. I believe in you, and you should believe in yourself too, okay?

So go out there and make that change. Create that impact in the world.

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