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5 things I’ve learnt as an entrepreneur

5 things I’ve learnt as an entrepreneur

“Entrepreneur”. What a fancy word! But is it a word that really describes me?

Well apparently it is, even though it feels like a word reserved for the likes of Steven Bartlett. Am I in the same league? No, probably not. I mean I don’t appear on Dragon’s Den or have a podcast. But according to the Oxford Dictionary an “entrepreneur” is “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”

So there you have it, I’m officially an entrepreneur! Yet here I am with imposter syndrome doubting it to be true. Perhaps comparing myself to Steven is the problem, after all they do say “comparison is the thief of joy”.

And joy is definitely what I feel right now. July 1st marked Yorkshire Financial Planning’s second birthday meaning we’ve done what a lot of new businesses don’t and survived what is often thought to be the most challenging period of business ownership.

How I’m feeling

Reflective is probably the most accurate description of how I’m feeling right now. Time is flying past ridiculously quickly and I feel like pausing is the right thing to do before moving in to year three. Pausing to reflect on the experience so far and pausing to think about the future experience that we want to create for both ourselves and for our clients. Giving ourselves time to think and plan feels like the greatest gift and a wonderful act of selfcare.

Let’s focus on the reflection for now on what my greatest learnings have been so far:

  1. Focus on your wellbeing

Perhaps the biggest benefit of being your own boss, is the ability to do what you want when you want. What nobody tells you is that you don’t just have one job. As well as being a Financial Adviser, I’m also the company accountant, the marketing exec, the admin assistant, the paraplanner, the strategy director etc… Yes, the list does go on and at times it feels never ending even though Jo and I share out the jobs.

Having this level of control brings benefits but it can also mean that I’m working a lot more hours than I should be or want to be. There is literally always something to do. This makes focusing on my own wellbeing significantly more challenging.

We all know why wellbeing is important and we all know that we can only be the best versions of ourselves if we are nurturing all our needs. I wholeheartedly want to be the best version of me so I feel good and am giving everyone around me the best I have to give. So why, when I know and want this do I still struggle with it? I honestly infuriate myself.

I’ve tried various methods to try to reprioritise the workload so my wellbeing becomes a bigger priority. Most of which failed because I repeatedly made the decision to work instead of taking an hour off to do something for me.

Recently however I had a conversation which has helped me make a mental change for the better. I was asked what would happen if I continue to work the way I am. The answer was easy; burn out. What does burn out look like? It looks like mental, physical, emotional trauma that would impact me, my homelife, the business and our clients. It is quite literally the worst possible thing I can imagine. I never want to let myself, Jo or our clients down. It felt like a lightbulb moment and one which fortunately has stayed with me.

Jo & I asked each other what our non-negotiables are when it comes to wellbeing. We agreed that we each need to ensure we have an hour a day for ourselves. It can be to go to the gym, to get our nails done, or to have a nap! It really doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s our hour of downtime. We put it in our calendar and we hold each other to it.

Has it made a difference? You bet it has. There is no guilt attached to taking an hour off. We’ve given ourselves permission and its making a world of difference.

  1. Be realistic with your time

With a new business comes business plans, excitement, enthusiasm and a desire to conquer the world. All great and self motivation is definitely needed to get the wheels in motion and keep rotating.

I think it’s incredibly important to accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that achieving success may take time. In our case, we are just two people and there is only so much time you can give to your business before it starts impacting on your wellbeing.

Be realistic about what you can do and what you can achieve. This could be your overall strategy or it could be your daily to do list. I believe that starting a new business is easy, keeping going and staying motivated is the harder part. We like to adopt a ‘feel good’ approach where we can give ourselves a pat on the back and celebrate achieving those mini milestones.

With my to do list for example, I prioritise what three things I am going to do/achieve today. And it’s a jolly good day if I manage to do all three! This approach totally beats writing down all thirty-five things that are actually on my to do list and then beating myself up for still having thirty-two things left at the end of the day. Jo also writes herself a ‘ta-dah’ list, which is simply a list of all the things you did that were not part of the plan at the start of the day.

I think the key is to find a technique that keeps you motivated and the wheels turning.

  1. Build the foundations

This is very much linked to the previous point. Our business plan was made up of lots of ‘basics’ that we need to get in place as well as lot’s of big ticket items that we would love to be able to do.

The reality is that the basics are pretty boring. Shareholder Agreement, tick. Public Liability Insurance, tick. Service agreements and contracts, tick. Boring, boring, boring. However this is the stuff that’s easy to neglect but which keeps you safe if things go wrong. You can’t neglect the basics. We see examples of businesses who do this and it comes back to bite so however boring it is, make sure you get the basics right.

Big ticket items are definitely more fun. Whether it’s getting out networking, volunteering in our local community, supporting charities or running events this is the stuff that gets us excited.

In the last 2 years we’ve done a little bit of this fun stuff but we’ve mainly concentrated on building strong foundations. I wouldn’t change this approach. Our business feels stable and it feels like we’ve established strong roots from which we can now grow. That means it must be time for the fun stuff!

  1. Get help before you need it

Pause and review. Create a cycle in which you regularly pause and review your business plan and how you are doing. A lesson we learnt a little too late!

Once you get crazy busy, its hard to pause and review. The downside being that you get bogged down in the day to day and spend far too much time working in your business as opposed to working on your business. This can go on for some time, until you finally lift your head up and realise you need help.

Recruitment takes time. Finding the right person, waiting out notice periods then training that person can take months. And that’s months of having to do everything yourself, probably getting more and more stretched.

In our experience, we should have taken the leap and recruited sooner. Having an Executive Assistant has been like a breath of fresh air allowing us to spend time on the stuff that really matters and which adds most value.

  1. Iterate

On the theme of pause and review, we believe it’s important to iterate and be agile in our approach. If something isn’t working, you don’t have to rip up the whole plan and start again. Sometimes small changes are all that’s needed and all those small changes can build up to a lot of positive change.

Creativity and lots of good ideas are definitely needed as an entrepreneur, but starting lots of things and never finishing them can be destructive so get started, iterate and with a bit of luck you can reap the rewards!

Any regrets?

Cue laughter. No, I have absolutely no regrets! As an entrepreneur there are moments of absolute joy and I won’t lie absolute pain, but I never look back and think “what have I done?”. If anything I just wish I’d done it significantly sooner. Having a vision and getting to work on it every day is a real privilege. I meet amazing people all the time and I feel like I’m making a difference to peoples lives. The tough times are all good learning, and it makes the good times so much sweeter.

For more help and advice, call us on 01482 275540 or, complete our contact form here. We also offer no obligation financial advice in our complimentary guide, covering wealth management, retirement, and inheritance tax planning.

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