Ep 151 | What I've Learned in 5 Years In Business

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I recently just celebrated my fifth year in business! I can't believe it's already been that long! There are a few lessons I learned the hard way as I've grown my business so I'm sharing them with you incase the resonate with where you're at in the growth of your organization. There is still a lot of work to do and I'm still just beginning but I'm taking the lessons I've learned already and using them to grow and build upon.

What You'll Learn:

→ mistakes I made when I got started.
→ why it's always important to keep learning.
→ how I've adjust the services I provide.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[2:24] Doing all the things for all the people. In the beginning we offered all the services so we could be all things to all people and check all the boxes. I was doing all the learning and it eventually got to be overwhelming and I was doing things I didn't truly enjoy.
[4:22] Marketing my business. In the beginning it was a lot of in person meetings and networking. It built a great referral network that is where we get all of our clients from to this day. I learned throughout the way that I don't need to take on every client. I need to guide them in the right direction and take on the clients that are the best fit for me. It's a partnership.
[7:49] Build the business you want. Remember this is your baby. You deserve to do what you want, and more importantly, what you don't want. Don't feel like you need to take your business in a direction that doesn't light you up.
[8:38] Always be learning. As your business grows its important to keep learning and keep building on your knowledge. The more you keep learning and challenging yourself the more your energy will build in your business and it will keep you excited about what you're doing. It will help you refine and grow!
[10:59] Slow down and do one thing at a time. It's terrifying because there are so many things going on at once. But when we do one thing well before we add on anything else helps you be more consistent and build your organization in a sustainable way.

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So I just started my fifth year in business. And it's kind of crazy to think about. So I thought today I would share some of the things that I have learned over the course of the five years, there's been some big wins, there's been some not so great things, some launch failures. But overall, I've learned a lot in five years. And I wouldn't change any of it for where I am today, my business and how I'm moving forward. My name is Sami Bedell-Mulhern. I am the host of the digital marketing therapy podcast. And I'm so glad that you are here listening today. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for these episodes, it really means so so so much to me. So, stick around, and here are some of my lessons from my five years in business.

But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy sessions. So if you've been thinking about what your next five years of your business are going to be, but you need some help, maybe strategizing some ideas around it, these sessions are great, they're 30 minute sessions, you can book them at thefirstclick.net/officehours. And we can talk through whatever you want with your digital marketing strategy. When you talk about your website, your email marketing, your content creation, whatever it is that you have, whatever it is, that is keeping you from hitting those fundraising goals, hitting that next step, getting that growth that you want, let's get on the phone and have a conversation. Okay. So again, it's at thefirstclick.net/officehours. But for now, let's get into the episode.

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So five years ago, I was working a corporate job. And it was great. And I was learning a lot and I was doing doing a lot of really amazing fun things. But it just became time for me to kind of jump out and do my own thing. And so I decided to start H and E marketing solutions, which is my consulting business. And it was incredible. And I spent so much at the beginning stages, really just learning and soaking things in. So we thought at the time that we were going to build a web design and a digital marketing, consultancy or not really going to agency model, but a consultancy. Working with anybody, anybody who would take us right and you might have been in this boat at the beginning, here's the mission, here's what we're trying to do, we will we will take any donor just give us your any money we can get our hands on, we're gonna go for all the grants, we're gonna go for all of the things. And it feels like you're kind of spinning your wheels. So we were doing social media, we were doing website design and development, we were doing copyright like we were doing anything and everything, the tech side of things, SEO side of things. And I was learning as much as I possibly could. Because there was a lot that I knew from my previous experience. But there was also some pieces like I knew SEO was important. But I didn't necessarily know all of the different things. So I was geeking out on that I was getting data analytics, I was trying to take in all of the things that I possibly could at the very beginning. And so as we started reaching out to potential clients and potential customers, you know, every project was different, and I was feeling a little bit kind of all over the place.

So the first lesson that I would share from my five years in business, is that the sooner that you can focus on what it is that you truly love, the better off your business will be as a whole. So if I would have really just focused on the things that I knew and come at it from a mindset of this will come to me I would have had much less stress and frustration and been able to focus some of my trainings on the things in the core of what it was that I wanted to do. But it's taken me a few years to get there.

Now, when it came to marketing my business I did a lot of in person networking, a lot of chatting with people in the community and that was all great and it has worked and that has really built the referral network that my business is built off of now. So you know me as the first click which offers this podcast which offers a lot of our digital resources and programs and courses H & E Marketing Solutions is my consultancy my one on one work with clients. And I am so blessed that that business has come from a referral space. And that is because we did so much networking at the beginning. I met with a lot of business owners we did things right. We worked with a lot of clients. Now was all of that always positive note because what I learned was that there were certain industries, there were certain types of people like certain communication styles, different types of clients like it helped me really hone in on what were the types of projects that I really wanted to work on. And so that is kind of my next lesson for you. And that not all.

Now, not all things are right for you doesn't mean that you're bad or they're bad, it just means that maybe what you're working towards, or what they're working towards is not the same thing, you might not be the right fit, we all have different communication and personality styles. And not everything is the right fit. And so what I really learned in early on in the beginning was don't need to take every project, I need to have different resources and ways to help them be successful. But we are not always the right fit for people that doesn't, it just doesn't feel good to me, it doesn't feel good to them. And we want everybody who comes to us to feel like they have had a good experience, and that they have gotten what they need in the growth of their organization. And I think that you want the same whether it's somebody that's coming into your organization, as a volunteer, as a potential board member, as a donor, as a staff member, right? Not everybody is going to be the right fit, even if they feel like they love the mission. They love what you're doing. And they're really passionate about it. And so we have to really kind of take a step back and remove that emotional piece. And that's not always easy for me for sure. And I'm sure it's not for you. But we have to really say okay, how is this going to play out and is everybody going to feel fulfilled.

And I think especially from like, the board member in the donor space, it can feel a little nerve wracking at times, because you might have a board member that's coming to you with all the great connections, and they, they on paper, know all the right people, and they have the right skill set, and they can bring a lot of value. But let's be real, maybe they're kind of a pain in the ass. And the amount of work and effort that you would need to put into that board member to support your organization might not be worth it. But we tend to say to ourselves, Well, I can't say no to this person, because A, B, C, D and E, right, and switching that mentality and being and being like, Let's go after the people that we know, check more of those boxes is going to get you a lot further in the long run in your organization.

It's tricky. It's hard, I know. But I challenge you to try and do that as you move forward in the growth of different areas of your business. The same is true for your team members and your staff, we can all be passionate about what we do. But that doesn't mean that at the end of the day, they can deliver on those activities. The next lesson that I learned is that I deserve to do what I want. This is my business, and I can build it how I want. So we've gone through several iterations of different things. And ultimately, we've landed on serving nonprofits. That's a passion of mine. That's a passion of my brothers, who's my business partner. And it's just really lit us up. And it's really helped us make a bigger impact. And it's introduced us to a lot of amazing people, a lot of amazing people that we're working on a lot of amazing collaborations with and partnerships with. And so really continuing to follow that dream, and push through and keep, you know, keep on keeping on, you will find the right people to help push your agenda and your commitment and your mission forward. Now, the other thing that I've learned is to always be learning.

So in the beginning, I was soaking up all the courses, all the trainings, I was learning how to do all of the things, which will get me to the next lesson that I learned here in a second. But at the beginning, you have this like quest for knowledge, right, you're trying to learn the things that you don't know, you're trying to build on the skills that you don't have, because you don't have the funds to be able to hire those people to help you do it. And so that's what I did at the beginning. And I loved it. I love learning. And then as we got busy with clients, and as we got busy moving on to different things in our business, sometimes some of that started to lack. And what I've really realized is the more that I keep learning, the more that my energy builds inside my business, the more excited I get about things, the more that it makes me think about the things that I'm doing, and continue to tweak and refine. So not always changing. But thinking about things like what's my customer experience, like how am I working one on one with my clients? How am I providing that level of care? How am I making sure that everybody feels good when they leave? How am I streamlining our website, build process, right? And those are all things that you can do as well. So it's not to change everything, but it's to build on that foundation that you've created and how can you continue to make that a better experience? How can you improve On the email copy that you have, how can you make your donors feel more loved on than any other organization in that you compete with, right? So the flip side to that is that when I learned and grew and took it all this information, I kind of was like, doing this thing. I was like flip flopping, not flip flopping. But I was wanting to really push out all of the things all the time, I wanted to start a course I wanted a membership, I wanted to, you know, because I see all these things, and I can, I can see it in my brain. And I understand how it can be a really impactful thing. But it just was too much too fast, too soon, I had built my audience, I hadn't built the trust with you all to purchase this stuff. Like it just wasn't the right time. And so while it is so hard, for me, at least to wrap my head around this, this was a big lesson that I learned and something that I've really worked on now, slow down and do one thing at a time. It is terrifying, because you're like, Well, I have all these ideas, like I can bring in all this money from this, like we can do this event and this event and this event. And then we could also do this individual giving campaign. And we can also do this direct mail piece. And then we can also do all of these grants.

Like just, I'm sure you're like, yes, I've been there. Because we've all been there. Um, when you sit in focus, and when I have now set and focus like this is the core offering that we have. The core that we do now is website design and development, and then helping you with your content creation, for blogs, or podcasts, or YouTube or whatever, and your email marketing campaign to engage and retain donors. That's what we do. We don't do social media, we don't do SEO, we don't do a lot of those other things. We don't do paid advertising, right, we don't do the Google Ad Grant, even though I feel like they're all very important. That's not what we've chosen to specialize in. And instead, we've chosen to network with people that we can, you know, reach out to you to provide those services for our clients. That was a big deal for us, because for a long time, people would come into our circle, and they would kind of be ping pong all over the place. And we would kind of piecemeal all of these things. And we would do all of these things, kind of, you know, more than halfway. Now we have the ability to really be excellent at what it is that we do. And so that's what I want to challenge you on. Because when you are really excellent at what you do, you're going to do it well. So if you're saying, Okay, well, we're going to focus on a monthly donor campaign. That's what we're going to focus on for this year, we're going to build that campaign. And this is how it built into our bigger strategy. Or we're right now in this phase, where we're going to do a ton of grant writing. And that's what we're going to focus our time and energy on. Especially if you're in that phase where you're trying to grow from like really volunteer base to staffing. You want to make sure that you're not bringing out your people, and how can you support them and being most successful for what's going to give you long term sustainability for your organization. And that is as counterintuitive as it feels doing one thing at a time. So we really focused on that. And that's made a huge impact on how we're able to get things done, how we're able to grow and how we're able to provide stellar service to our clients and to you and create content that really helps you move your organization forward. So that's really kind of the big lessons that I've learned to always be learning to slow down and do one thing at a time to be true to myself and do what I love to do. Because when I do that, it comes through so amazingly to my clients, and the customers and clients that come to me are so incredible and amazing as well. I've also learned to just sit and breathe in what I'm doing because I have trust and faith in the work that I'm doing and the way that I'm supporting nonprofits. That I know that it's going to come to me I'm going to manifest and bring it in. I know it's all kind of woowoo but that's what we're working on. And honestly, I didn't even realize that my five year anniversary was coming up. Facebook told me so as it does so often in our memories. But I am so blessed and thankful for all of the things that we have accomplished and the people that we have served over the last five years. You are probably one of them, at some point in time has participated in either one of our one on one programs or our group coaching programs. But I so appreciate you and thank you for being on this journey. We are so thrilled and excited for all of the things that are coming up. 2022 is going to be an incredible year for us as I know it will be for you.

So I would love it if you would shoot me an email sami@thefirstclick.net and send me just a fun win. What's something that has happened to you this year that you are just wanting to shout from the rooftops I would love to celebrate that with you. And if you've been around for five plus more years, let me know that too because I think that's incredible. It's a big feat that you should be so proud of. Because most organizations that start up don't make it that long, so you deserve to be celebrated as well. But for now, I hope that you subscribe wherever you listen and check out the video versions of these episodes at the first click dotnet forward slash YouTube and I look forward to seeing you in the next one.

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