I’ve decided to kick off my first blog of the year by sharing some of the things, I’ve learnt in 2018.  Through good times and bad, I have learnt the art of gratitude.  There are sometimes genius sparks of clarity and there are also lessons that need to be learnt from the good and tough times.

Here are six things that 2018 well and truly taught me……..

Take a break.

Sometimes I go a little bit quiet.  Things have changed quite a lot for me over the last 5 years.  Most of you know that I am a one-woman band just like you.  Social media and the biz girls community never stops.  It just keeps going.  Or at least that’s what I thought.  If you are running your own community, you will know exactly what I mean.  You CAN stop.   The world doesn’t stop turning and neither does the biz girls community.  A few people will notice when you don’t post as often.  They won’t say, ‘oh my god why aren’t you posting daily? or jesus my life just isn’t the same’.  What they will probably say is ‘Did you have a lovely break?’.

The truth is we are all humans, I am too.  We all need a break.  If you are thinking of stopping your online presence because you are having a holiday or you just need to attend to other things in your life, you CAN skip a few days or longer.    The pressure to be turned ON all the time can be all consuming.  If you are not feeling it, just step away.  If you have gone to great lengths to build your audience, or community or something else, they would rather you took a break than posted crappy, meaningless content.

It feels good to just take a photo because you want to and NOT wonder if it will meet the muster to be posted on to one of the social channels.

When you do come back in, you will be rested and more able to deal with your business.  No-one minds.  Take a break.  A proper one and let it go.

Setting Boundaries.

Most of the problems in my life whether its personal or business, are because I didn’t set boundaries.  You don’t necessarily need to tell people what those boundaries are, you just need to know what they are yourself.  Not having boundaries always leads to resentment.  I learnt this to my detriment this year.  There were things that were making me unhappy because I didn’t set the boundaries.  This made me very resentful.  I felt like I was doing things because I had to, not because I wanted to.  This has made me think things through much more and realise, it’s my life, my business – I can make the choices.  I don’t have to do things that I don’t want to do.  If you set the boundaries from the outset, it is a whole lot easier to manage.

Comparisonitus sucks.

Comparisonitus is defined as ‘The compulsion compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance, etc.’ (Your dictionary.com).

The danger of comparing yourself to others. We know it’s a danger zone but we still do it.  I do.  I had a good dose of this in 2018.  Wherever I looked, there was another networking group or female led community popping up.  It made me question myself and what I was doing.  With the social channels growing, it feels impossible sometimes not to compare ourselves to others.  Somehow and for no apparent reason, it’s like you feel forced to compare your world and abilities to someone else’s.  It’s as if you just can’t stop yourself. It takes practice not to do it.  You have to be brave and strong and sometimes you just don’t feel like you can be.  The way I overcome this is to unfollow, unlike, unsubscribe and remove myself from other groups.  It feels somewhat liberating to do this and gives you a sense of being back on control.  Your focus.  Your goals.  Doing it your way.  Their (competitors) way might be their way and work for them but it doesn’t mean it will work for you.  There is so much I could say about this and I feel another blog just on this topic, coming on!

Not everyone is for you.

Some people won’t trust a small business owner. They’ll assume things.  Sometimes these people will, for reasons only they know, make it their business to tell you that you aren’t worthy of their business or make you feel that you aren’t.

I learnt, you don’t have to convert everyone. It’s OK if there are people you can’t win over. These people aren’t your ideal client or people you want to be working with anyway.  You just can’t please everyone.  Stop trying to.  When you come across clients who are partial to your business and love what you do, serve them so that they will continue to support you, and, even better tell everybody else about you.

Keep work and home separate.

Running a small business can be all-consuming. When we are juggling a whole raft of other things it’s very easy to be open 24/7.  This isn’t healthy.  I am learning to structure my time more effectively and not let things overlap into each other.  I am trying much harder to focus on my family and personal stuff during my limited time away from work.  Even though I work at home, I make it clear to those around me when I am working.  I often get to the end of a work day and haven’t even thought about what I am going to cook for dinner.  The moans from the children support this.  When I tell them I’ve been working, they think that because I have been at home all day, it’s less important.  I work when I really need to and let’s face it, there isn’t really anything life threatening that I need to give up sacred family time for.

This is still work in progress for me, but I am getting much better at it.  I intend to get much better at this in 2019!

Collaboration and not competition.

Most of you will know by now, this is something I live and swear by.  Be gracious to your competitors because you never know when an opportunity might arise to work with them.  There are usually so many people in your space.  It doesn’t matter.  Offer friendly advice.  Send the occasional customer their way if they are not a fit for you.  Maybe even become a customer of theirs yourself.  If one of your competitors takes on a project that is beyond their capacity, they might reach out to you to help.  It’s good for harmony.  You all get a pay day and the client get’s what they need.  We are all different.  We all have different skills and people always buy because of who they connect with, regardless of the product or service. Relationships do make the world go round.  Spend some time building them.

I see so many wonderful, amazing AND successful collaborations happening within the biz girls community.  Sometimes women don’t expect them and sometimes women can’t believe working with competitors will help them.

I learnt this year, that if your competitors aren’t interested in working with you, this usually means they feel threatened by you.  Smile and move on! Go find competitors who would jump at the chance to build a relationship with you.

What are six things you learnt in 2018?

Amanda Ayres

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