What I Wish I Had Known Before Launching My Business
My online store with products for every work style, called SHOP by ProfessionGal, is finally open for business!
Honestly, the first thing I wanted to do was drop the mic, walk away, find the nearest, swankiest bar, and sip on an expensive cocktail while staring at a wall, smiling to myself in disbelief—just because I could and just because I finally had the time to do something that pointless.
But, instead of trying to forget about launch, I chose to reflect on it and see what lessons I could glean from the experience to help me (and you!) moving forward. Read on for the biggest three, and see how you can apply them to your own business.
Take More Breaks
I’m feeling pretty burnt out at the moment, which makes me realize that I really should have taken more breaks leading up to launch. You see, a little laughter with friends could have taken me out of the cocoon I’d wrapped myself in and put me in a better mood. Working out more would have given me the energy I needed for the late-nighters. Even devoting more time to taking care of my Cockapoo, Chewbacca, could have given me necessary therapy when my stress was at an all-time high.
You might discount these as things that you’ll get to after launch, but carving out time for them now will be good for you—and your business—in the long run. In fact, taking breaks allows you to approach your work with a calmer mindset and make decisions with a clear, objective perspective.
Here’s a good example: When I was in the middle of negotiating a contract with a brand, and they fought to lower the commission I asked for, the isolated, coffee-and-PB&J-only version of Megan reflexively wanted to call them and tell them to shove it. Instead, I decided to visit the Highline with my roommate. By the time that was over, I had a much happier and clearer mindset to realize that counter-offering is a normal part of the process and not to take it so personally.
Launching Was the Easy Part
Unfortunately, my days of needing breaks are not over. In fact, launching the site was just the beginning—promoting, maintaining, and growing the site are proving to be the toughest parts. Sure, the climb to launch was trying, but staying atop the mountain with gusts of unexpected winds (like hidden, monthly fees from third party services) and everyone (your staff, contractors, banks, and significant others) tugging at you for attention, is more challenging than I could have imagined.
The best thing to do is to find your balance and realize that you can’t be perfect at all of those things at once, but you can be damn good at all of them. And, that’s enough. Focus on maintaining the stature of your business, attracting more customers, and keeping your sanity—and know that other things will fall into place in time. If an activity won’t result in the above, think twice before saying yes. Your time is valuable, and your business depends on you not spreading yourself too thin.
It’s All About the Pivot
A wise business gal once told me that her secret to running a successful virtual assistance agency was being able to adapt to situations quickly and accordingly. That’s what I remind myself of every time I have doubts about what I’m doing with the store. I tell myself that this is all new, and that I’m going to make mistakes, but what matters most (if we’re keeping score) is how well I evaluate my current position and seize the relevant opportunities to improve it.
For example, I realized that there is a certain type of customer we don’t specifically serve in the categories offered in the shop as of now. Instead of panicking (OK, after panicking), I realized that this was an opportunity: I launched the site with the main categories, but I could use the missing one as a reason to promote the site in the following months and keep the momentum going. Instead of seeing the missing category as a limitation, I can see it as an opportunity to prove that we’re going to continue growing and improving, even after we’ve launched.
Though these lessons came as a surprise, it’s better that way. If anything, these three experiences have helped me learn one of the most important lessons of entrepreneurship: Expect the unexpected, but don’t sweat it yet—wait and see how things play out, and then make a move strategically. That’s all you can do!
Photo of exhausted woman courtesy of Shutterstock.
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