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5 Lessons From My First Year (Back) In Business

I started my first business five years ago. I was a kid in the tech business and didn’t know what I was doing. I wanted to be like the giants, so I started my business in my parents’ garage. It was a novel tech company aimed at helping proactive parents and fleet managers prevent their drivers from driving under the influence. After investigating research and development costs, the lowest bid for an MVP started at eight million USD. I had no idea where I would get that kind of money, so I put it on the back-burner.

Luckily, the SCORE mentor I was working with sparked an idea. That idea turned into me launching my second business that same year – SamsonMedia. After two years of working on SamsonMedia, I realized my priorities were out of whack, so I stopped everything.

It’s been a year since I stepped back into the business. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, made some mistakes, and had some massive hits.

Here are five of the most important things I’ve learned in my first year (back) in business:

1. The Value of Community In Your Business

Starting and running a business can be a lonely endeavor. It’s essential to find and build relationships with other business owners who can offer support, advice, and collaborate on projects.

When you’re first starting, it’s easy to try and do everything yourself. As your business grows, you realize you can’t do everything yourself. Delegate tasks to others or outsource to experts who can help take your business to the next level. One way I do this is with the Eisenhower Matrix.

It lets you see the following:

  • What you need to do now
  • What’s coming up
  • What can be done by someone else
  • What can wait for a rainy day

2. Networking is a game-changer

Getting your business known in your community is vital to its success. Attend events, sponsor local organizations, and get involved in as many groups and activities as possible. 

The power of networking goes back to having a solid presence in the community your business serves.  If a customer sees you there and interacts with you, they’ll be more likely to trust you and want to do business with you.

This year I’ve been connecting with my local Chamber of Commerce, the Fox West Chamber.

However, you should expand your thinking beyond your local community and tap into regional, national, and global communities that also fit your business.

3. Marketing Is An Investment - Not An Expense

You can have the best product or service globally, but if nobody knows about it – or worse: doesn’t care about it – you’re not going to make any sales. Investing in marketing is essential to growing your business.

It’s a lesson a lot of people learn the hard way, especially in the craft beer industry: market your business, or someone else will do it for you. When you’re small, just getting your name out there is a Herculean task because you compete with more prominent brands – and bigger budgets. Every time you’re at an event or festival, you talk to a customer; that’s an opportunity to tell your story.

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4. Focus Is Imperative

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the bigger picture, but if you can focus on your goals and stay the course, your chance of success grows. One of the best ways to stay focused is to have a plan and a schedule.

Knowing what you need to do and when to do it can stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked. Additionally, it’s essential to keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself. If you don’t think you can achieve your goals, they’ll be harder to obtain.

An old manager of mine introduced me to the concept of a “pattern of management.” It allowed me to understand my daily habits and eventually helped me form routines and time-block activities for when I was most effective.

Today, I combine this concept and the Eisenhower Matrix in Trello to manage my day-to-day tasks and so much more.

5. Don't Be Afraid Of Making Mistakes

Making mistakes is part of the journey – what’s important is how you learn from them. Acknowledge your mistakes, and then make a plan to prevent them from happening again in the future.

As a small business owner, you’re working hard to grow your customer base and boost revenue. You don’t have time to be paralyzed with every mistake or misstep you make. Dare to “move fast and break things,” knowing that you can’t learn if you don’t try.

We help craft beer business owners increase their revenue and expand their brand awareness. We can help you generate high-quality leads, close more sales, and build better relationships through inbound marketing.

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