10 Years – 10 Lessons in Business (Part 2)

Ange Connor

We’ve been celebrating 10 years in business this month, as in October 2013 I took the plunge and started Inspire HQ.

It was the year Hawthorn defeated Fremantle by 15 points in the AFL Grand Final. Selfies were trending and the word Selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary. The median age in Victoria was 37.3 years. Apple released the iPhone 5S (the iPhone 15 has just been released) and Unemployment was at 5.7%. It all seems like a lifetime ago.

Last week I shared the first 5 of my 10 biggest learnings as a business owner. You can read the first five learnings here. Here are my remaining 5 business lessons:

  1. Get yourself a mentor / business coach. I have been fortunate to have a number of mentors throughout my career. I’ve blogged many times about the value of a mentor and I can’t recommend highly enough how valuable they are. Throughout my journey as a business owner, I have had two incredible mentors who have shaped who I am as a business owner and have had a significant impact on making Inspire HQ what it is today. A great mentor will hold you accountable, be an ear for you to sound ideas and thoughts out with, to vent to. They’ll challenge your thinking and help you see different perspectives, give you a reality check from time to time, push you outside your comfort zone and help you peel away all the emotion to be able to see the business decision for what it actually is, especially when you need to make the hard decisions. Being a business owner can be pretty lonely at times and you need someone to talk to, someone who isn’t personally connected to you like a family member, who can look at things objectively, and that’s where a mentor is so valuable. A massive thank you to Graham McMahon and Jason Cunningham for your amazing mentorship over the years.
  2. People come and go in business; you can’t take it personally but it’s the relationships that matter most. By people, I’m referring to clients, suppliers, and team members. Your number one client will move on and you think your business won’t recover. You lose great team members as they progress and take the next step in their career journey. You outgrow suppliers or they outgrow you. I’ve learnt it’s all part of the journey in business and as much as you sometimes want to hold on to those people, sometimes selfishly, sometimes you want more for them than they want for themselves, you can’t control those situations and most importantly it’s about the relationships. I’ve been devastated to lose some team members but the relationships and friendships we have maintained has been the most important thing. I’ve had clients move on and clients that I’ve had to let know that we can’t help anymore but maintaining those relationships post the business relationship is something I am proud of. It, of course, doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve learnt you can’t dwell on these things and you can’t take it personally. Reflect on it, talk it through with your mentor, consider the learnings but then you need to let it go and move on.
  3. Some progress is better than no progress. In the early years of my journey as a business owner, I was very much focused on if we were going to do something, like a new website, launch a new service, new marketing material, a strategic plan, a system or process even down to a document or template, then it had to be perfect. This resulted in many projects getting started then shelved when we got busy with delivering the work as the client always trumps. Over the years I learnt that I had to let go of perfect and let some progress be better than no progress and since then we have had much greater success with progressing these projects. I have learnt you just need to start, to take that first step, to do that one action that will get you underway and progress things. That one task you can fit into 15 minutes of your day as opposed to trying to block out 3 hours or a day to work on a project.
  4. Resilience, grit and your mindset will be your biggest assets. No one tells you how hard being in business can be and you won’t understand until you experience it for yourself. There is plenty of blood, sweat and tears. There are times when you have to make sacrifices. You doubt yourself and wonder what the hell you are doing. Then there are the highs, where you can’t wipe the smile from your face, the buzz of knowing you have made progress, the satisfaction of seeing your dream – the vision come to fruition. In my opinion, resilience and grit are the most valuable traits that you need to master in business and being aware of your mindset and learning how to adjust or change your mindset are key to growth and success. Finding and knowing the things or activities that you need to do when your resilience and grit are waning or when you aren’t in the right mindset is crucial. For me it’s been getting out for a run – a run always helps me reframe things and clear my mind, an infrared sauna session (the health benefits are amazing) or reading a good book (non-business related).
  5. Go with your gut. I have no scientific evidence on this one but sometimes you just have to go with your gut and back yourself. All the data, research and evidence might stack up or not stack up but you have to listen to your gut and don’t let the negative Nancy’s or the conservative Casey’s sway you. Taking risks comes with being a business owner and there are times when you will make decisions based on the data and the research and you’ll go with your head. But I believe in going with your gut if it feels right. If I had of weighed up all the facts, data and research, I would never have started out in business; the risks were way too high. There will be gut decisions you make that don’t work out but there are equally as many decisions that you make with your head, all the data and research possible that also still don’t work out. Going with my gut and doing what feels right has paid off for me.

Being a business owner is one hell of a ride but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat…….. I’d just do a few things a little differently!

To everyone who has been a part of the Inspire HQ journey so far, I can’t thank you enough for your support, encouragement and for putting your trust in a small business. Bring on the next 10 years!

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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