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Cheers To That

Celebrating Our Fifth Birthday – 10 Lessons I’ve Learned Running A Business

I’m delighted (read thrilled/humbled/slightly bemused) to announce that KV Communications is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month. Oh yes – five years ago I made the decision to start my own company and man alive, what a ride it’s been!

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping and supporting other businesses – from start-ups to established brand names. I myself have been constantly challenged through my own experience and have loved learning about business, the industry, clients and also about myself.  To mark this joyous occasion I wanted to share my top ten lessons from running my own company over the past five years.

1. Self awareness is a crucial asset

Self-awareness – celebrating your strengths and having the knowledge to support your weaknesses will be the best advantage you can have. I’m not a natural ‘salesperson’ but I need to secure clients to help grow revenue which created much doubt within myself at my own ability to run a business. However I’ve learnt to stop focussing on my weaknesses, accept them and if I can’t do something, either change tactic or find someone who can help.

Now instead of the hard sell, I do what I do best – I listen, I seek to understand what people need and how if possible I can help. If I genuinely can’t help I’ll tell them instead of trying to convince them otherwise. I may not be able to sell ice to eskimos – but sometimes they don’t need ice, they don’t want ice, so I don’t bang on about the best ice ever when what they really want is a nice whiskey to go with their ice!!

2. Create your own tribe – support is vital

Running a business, especially by yourself can be isolating so surrounding yourself with likeminded people in business is essential. I’ve joined various networks and communities – I’ve even created my own network of valued partners who are my first go-to people if I need help or advice but also provide their own helpful insights and experiences. Even more importantly we can share a drink together and cry (mainly with laughter) at some of the mishaps and mayhem which takes place!

3. We rise by lifting others

One of my greatest joys with my role is helping others succeed – whether it may be building the reputation of clients, helping train others or providing encouragement, insights or useful advice to peers and colleagues. Whilst time is one of our most valuable assets and shouldn’t be wasted, we are rewarded ten-fold when we help others. Simple.

I don’t mean with a caveat of ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. The amount of times I hear, ‘well I’m not getting any business from it’ is actually not the point, neither is providing your time or resources to the detriment of your own business. By serving others, without expectation is one of the best things you can do whilst you’re climbing to success – and shouldn’t solely be reserved for when you reach the top.

4. Get back up, every time – never quit!

Running a business is never easy, you’ll certainly have your exhilarating moments but it’s a constant dance – a beautiful, epic and intense dance that will result in a fair few falls and occasional breaks…..several times. The important lesson is to get back up – even when you don’t think you can – persist, put the effort in and continue to learn the steps. Even at the lowest points, quitting is never an option, not if you truly love to dance, because in the end you will master that incredible masterpiece of a performance!

5. Don’t wait for perfection – you’ll never get anything done

Like many companies in my industry when it comes to my own marketing I’ll put my hand up; it has not been as progressive as it should be. Why? I strive to get everything ‘just right’ before it’s sent out into the world which has resulted in a file full of unfinished blogs, tasks and projects. However not anymore and I’ve learnt to take action….learning to do the best you can, get it done and get it out, work with someone who’ll give you deadlines and if you’re wrong or something’s not quite working, you can always tweak it later!

6. Patience – just focus on your own grass

I’m a big believer that a business needs to wear the test of time, hustle and commitment to determine whether it’s a success. Yes ambition is great and quick results are wonderful to see, but some people expect to achieve the success of ten years in business after year one! It’s also so easy to keep looking up around at the competition which adds even more pressure but as the saying goes keep focussed on your own grass to care whether anyone else’s grass is greener.

7. Keep positive – turn the battle into a dance

There are times you feel worn down by it all, so much trying to juggle not only in business but in life also. I hadn’t realised that the words I’d been using to describe work was relating to the fight, battle or struggle. These words were literally dragging me down. In one sharp observation, my friend said to me –knowing my penchant for a good dance floor – ‘Why does it have to be a battle? Shouldn’t it be a dance?’ Not only did I feel immediately lifted but he also observed that my frown had instantly turned into a smile!

Sometimes you can forget that you’re doing what you love – people, situations or challenges can affect the way you feel which can lead into a negative spiral. Keep positive, motivated and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and it becomes more of a game to enjoy than a fight to the bitter death!

8. Be kind to yourself

I decided when starting my own business to be kind to myself. Some business owners can put their heads down and work solidly for years before coming up for air. Whilst I’m resilient and hard working – I’ve realised I’m not a machine. I need the connection of family, friends, travel, adventure – it feeds me to do the creative work I do. I also need to look after my body and take care of my health so now I ensure that’s equally prioritised in my life. There are days where I allow myself to crawl and as long as I’m moving forward and making progress I’ll consider it a good day, and that’s OK.

9. Not everyone will understand or support your journey

And that’s also OK. You will lose friends, upset family as they won’t understand why you can’t spend as much time with them or why you’re working this weekend AGAIN. This is your journey and if it’s truly want you want then you’re going to have make sacrifices and if you lose the haters – so be it! I love Richard St John’s Ted Talk – 8 secrets to success – you’re not a work-a-holic, you’re a work-a-frolic – surround yourself with other work-a-frolics and those who will cheer you along the way!

10. If you can’t find the solution….. create one

If one door closes……knock down the wall! Sometimes we don’t have or can’t find what we need so it’s important to not let things stop us in our tracks. If we don’t understand – google it, if what we’re looking for doesn’t exist – create it, can’t do something – learn, if we need advice or help – ask. We don’t know the answers to everything, we won’t get it right all the time and there are no failings, only learnings!

So please excuse the lengthy blog but felt there was much to share to mark this wonderful experience and celebration. Hopefully the above has been helpful advice or resonates with some people who have been on a similar journey – do let me know!

Meanwhile to celebrate five years I’ll be stuffing my face with chocolate fudge cake and drinking Prosecco this weekend to celebrate the journey and aforementioned lessons I’ve learnt.  Apologies to my fitness coach who I know will agree a celebration deserves a night off – see point 8!

CHEERS TO THAT!!!

Kristel x

Kristel Valaydon

Kristel Valaydon, founder of KV Communications – delivers a straight-talking brand communications approach to building company success and longevity

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