Podcast

Lessons I learned in 2023 so far – what worked, what didn’t

by Michaela fong

Podcast

Lessons I learned in 2023 so far – what worked, what didn’t

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I am a small European town gal with big dreams who immigrated to Canada and built a multi-six-figure business from my living room floor and kitchen counter! I accidentally grew it into a small business community and became a small business educator along the way.

Now am here to empower, teach & inspire you to grow your business and create the life of your dreams with strategy, confidence & without burnout.

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Curious to learn about key lessons I learned in business this year so far?

Today, I am taking you behind the scenes and sharing my business decisions and experiences, including those I would not do again! 

Sharing this as a reminder that behind shiny wins and accomplishments, there are always powerful lessons that come with them – the lessons we maybe didn’t expect, the lessons that may slow us down, but they are necessary to go through, so we can grow forward and make our goals happen in business and life.

3 best decisions I made this year in business so far

01 – closing down my product business to prioritize what truly matters to me in this season of my life (which is The Small Biz Babes community, my health, and family) 

Making this decision has been the scariest and most challenging choice since venturing into entrepreneurship. 

It required a massive mindset shift and personal growth to let go of the most successful thing I’ve ever built so that I could build something even more significant. It forced me to not give in to fear but instead believe in myself that I am meant to make a bigger impact in this world.

This decision also challenged me in many ways when I had to stand up for my choice and not let others’ criticism stop me.

Many people, including my family, friends and some business owners in our community, could not understand how I could close the successful business I had worked so hard for. If you’ve been with me since the beginning of my journey, you know that business was my baby. Yet, it wasn’t making me happy anymore, and I was ready to grow further in my life.

While this transition has been emotionally challenging, the only thing I regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. For over a year, I felt like I was constantly playing catch up, running between two businesses. Now I can finally breathe and give my best to the business I am truly passionate about, and I see myself growing in the long term.

I think if we outgrew part of the business and feel like it’s now holding us back, it’s time to let it go so that we can grow to our fullest potential. And by sharing my transition, I want to normalize that. No more staying in your comfort zone and playing it small. If you see something in your vision for yourself in your future, I think you should go for it and not let the fear of being judged hold you back. 

02 – asking for help & building a team (in business & personal life)

In December, as I sat down to create my vision board for 2023, I promised myself that I would prioritize my fertility journey and take the necessary steps to improve my mental and physical health this year. I knew I would need help and support in my personal life and business to make that happen.

An important lesson I learned from my previous product business was the value of hiring help. That’s why one of my main goals this year was to build a team that could support me and all my goals for the Small Biz Babes Community without compromising my health. 

I’ve already made significant progress by now by hiring four team members.

Outsourcing specific tasks, such as Pinterest management, podcast editing and content repurposing on TikTok, I’ve already experienced a tremendous sense of relief. Knowing that not everything relies solely on me has freed up more time and energy to focus on the highest priorities.

At the same time, I recognized the toll that my four-year fertility journey had taken on my mental health. To address this, I decided to work with a naturopath, acupuncturist, and reiki therapist. Their guidance and support have led to significant lifestyle changes, allowing me to prioritize self-care and set boundaries with my business. 

Self-care rituals, hormone-balancing diet, daily movement, planning for breaks, outsourcing tedious tasks, better sleep habits – all of this has been very transformative in how I feel as a person and business owner. 

I feel in control, even during crazy busy days when things don’t go as planned. I feel calm and centered, which reflects in my motivation and the quality of my work. Plus, I know I am doing everything I can to increase my chances for our baby miracle, which makes me feel so much more at peace. 

It’s a reminder that we don’t have to do it alone. There is no shame in asking for help – in business & personal life. Take a page from my book, if you feel like you can’t do it all alone – even outsourcing little annoying technical, time-consuming tasks to someone on Fiverr can free up time from your busy days. 

03 – mindset shift of releasing myself from short-term results

As a naturally results-driven person, I tempt to constantly check analytics, sales, and numbers and strive for improvement. I plan my schedule intentionally so I pour most of my time and energy into tasks that yield the most results. However, during this transition stage, I had to accept that there would be a dip in certain outcomes. 

I knew it would take weeks to go through the onboarding process to train new team members. I knew I would have to create new systems, operating procedures, training videos, and so much more. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do everything I used to do while I was in this transitioning stage full of growing pains.

For instance, I knew I would have less time to nurture the community on social media as much as I used to during these months, which may affect my engagement rate. I was prepared for it and OK with it. 

Being aware of this enabled me to release myself from the pressure of expecting exceptional results across all areas of the business. I understood that my focus needed to be directed toward the activities that would yield the greatest long-term impact – onboarding the team and building strong foundations for the future.

It is crucial for us, small business owners and entrepreneurs, to put things into perspective. At the end of the day, nothing comes easy in business and short-term pains are necessary for long-term gains. Releasing yourself from short-term results and focusing on your action makes it much easier to stick through it and do the work, even if you are not seeing the sweet rewards just yet on all fronts in your business.

3 decisions I would not make again

01 – hiring three team members all at once.

 I know it sounds like a bold move, but I had a plan and thought it through well. Or so I thought.

I set aside a dedicated month to bring on three team members (a virtual assistant, an email manager & Pinterest manager). I slowed down the projects, so I could focus on team onboarding, but it simply didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. 

Onboarding new people takes a lot of time, especially if you are creating training videos, systems and operating procedures for them. It was a lot more stressful than it had to be because I hired them all in the same time. If I could go back, I would not do it again. Instead, I would create training videos and systems at first and onboard one person at a time. 

So if you are reading this and thinking about expanding your team -don’t make the same mistake, friend, especially if those are your first team members! 

02 – not asking for a test project

When you’re hiring contractors or freelancers, not everyone will be the perfect fit for your business. 

Test project gives you a better understanding of the person’s process and work style. It helps you envision what working together will look like. 

Especially when you are hiring independent contractors who work for other companies as well, they already have their system of work and pretty-full calendar. Before you sign up a contract, it’s a good idea to do a test project to ensure that you are a good fit for each other.

I am embarrassed to admit that I did not even know that test projects existed, but I learned. I am now a big believer in test projects and sharing my lesson with you. Please don’t make the same mistake as I did. Ask for a test project; you won’t regret it.

03 – overcommitting to project I didn’t have to do myself

Early in January, when I started the rebranding process for Small Biz Babes Community, I decided to update my entire website to the new branding myself. At that time, my website had about 30 pages with hundreds of different links.

Clearly, I underestimated how much work it would be and how long it would take. When I started my business and didn’t have day-to-day operations, I had time to take care of it all. But now, I am already spread too thin. I can’t spend hours updating my website. It would take me away from much more important tasks in business, and quite honestly, it would take me months to finish it all. 

Luckily after about a week of working on it, I realized it was taking much longer than I could spend on it. I decided to hire a website designer to do most of the work. It was one of those situations when I realized that while I could technically do it myself, it is not the best use of my time as a business owner. Outsourcing this task and letting the professional do the time-consuming website editing work allowed me to focus on the business. 

Maybe you are not updating your website, but sure, you’ve been in a situation where the project you committed to turned out to be a lot more work than you anticipated. Early on in my business, I wasn’t even aware of how much time I would spend on tedious tasks. I did not have to do it myself. 

Learning to be intentional about where I invest time to save money and where I invest money to save time in business helped me to keep moving forward to my goals more effectively. Without this awareness, I’d still be pulling my hair out trying to update all pages on my website myself! 

If you’d like to learn more about these lessons – tune in to today’s podcast episode here ?.

Talk soon,

Michaela

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