I can’t quite believe it’s been three years since Peacock Digital Marketing began strutting its stuff! Year three has been about getting out there, making connections, expanding my business and refreshing my branding.
I’m always fascinated to read articles like this and glean as many nuggets of wisdom from them as possible, and I hope this helps inspire someone else.
Here are my top lessons learned in three years of running a business
Lesson #1: Don’t compare your success to others
I’m still working on this one. If you’re looking for an article like this that I may have written for year two, you won’t find one. This time last year I was being really unfair to myself and feeling pretty crappy. Don’t get me wrong, I had some fantastic projects and excellent feedback from clients, but I was comparing myself to others and feeling bad that I wasn’t at the same point they had reached.
You don’t know the full story. Other businesses might have had funding opportunities, they might have had personal connections which helped get work, their clients might even be unhappy with their service or attitude. You just don’t know.
The only business you should be comparing yourself to is your business the previous year.
Lesson #2: Get out there
It’s tough going it alone. If you’ve been working solo or from home, then it will do you good to get out of that space. This could be anything from going for a walk, to starting to attend networking events.
We’ve all got our own comfort zones. I was a journalist for six years so I will talk to anyone, but for some people the idea of walking into a room full of people you don’t know and having to strike up conversations is bloody terrifying. You know what else is terrifying? Starting a business. But you did that didn’t you? You’re a secret badass.
Find someone who could go to a few networking events with you and start some conversations. I’ve met so many lovely people and most of them know what it’s like and they want to help.
This year I joined a networking group called NetworkIn and they are a friendly bunch.
Lesson #3: Find your people
In year one, you’re going to have a few people offering ‘advice’. They will judge what you are doing in relation to what is deemed normal, acceptable and safe. They will warn you against starting a business, against leaving the security of a full-time regular 9 to 5. It usually comes from a place of concern and they mean well, but you have to listen to what feels right for YOU, not the rest of society.
In year two hopefully you will have started to speak to more business owners; listen to their stories. There are so many unbelievably inspirational people right on our doorstep and they can provide the motivation you need to go after that dream – because they did.
For me, year three has been about developing further connections with other businesses, getting the Peacock Digital Marketing name out there more and identifying any collaboration opportunities. Just having a network of other creative people who ‘get it’ is really nurturing and reassuring. You DO NOT need to go it alone.
Lesson #4: It’s OK to say no
You know those nightmare clients who treat staff like crap, consistently pay late, have an ‘I know’ attitude, want more for less – you don’t need to work with them.
Year three has been about identifying the tyre kickers, the time wasters, the ghosters, the people who want free marketing consulting, and shutting it down as soon as possible. I’m still working on it, the problem is I’m nice and I want to help, and unfortunately there are plenty of people who are happy to take advantage of ‘nice’.
There may also be times when you just feel your business isn’t the best fit for what a person is looking for; you can just be honest and tell them that.
Lesson #5: Refresh your branding and website
I refreshed my branding recently and I’m in the process of refreshing my website. The brand and business that you set up in year one will not be the same as the business in year three, five, ten, or so on. Make sure that your brand, messaging and website reflects that.
So many businesses will have a website for the sake of it and then completely neglect it, or they forget to review if their virtual shopfront actually reflects the business in its current state. Have a look through yours now. If it doesn’t feel quite right and is in a serious need of an update, say firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lesson #6: Get your software sorted
Having the right software for the job is fundamental to what I do (which is mostly digital), but it is also important to ensure you have the right software to run your business. I currently use FreeAgent for my accounting software and it’s made everything a lot easier to have that in place from day one. I can log mileage, take a picture of receipts and attach them to transactions, file my VAT returns, generate accounting reports and generally keep track of my finances. I also have an accountant!
I was extremely lucky to meet Gavin Nixon, from Strategy 365 (now one of my clients), who helped me get set up with Microsoft 365 Business and a Teams phone with a calling plan and virtual landline. I can access any of my company documents via the Cloud from anywhere in the world, which means I can take my business with me on the go. All of my Microsoft software is also scalable for when the business grows.
For task management, goal setting, process recording and time tracking I use ClickUp, which you can get started with for free.
After three years, I’m really glad I got this stuff sorted as soon as possible, because it’s allowed me to scale and get systems in place.
I hope these bits I’ve learned helped you in some way. If you want to stay up to date with Peacock Digital Marketing, you can subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of this page.