5 Things I've Learned in 365 Days of Running a Small Business

365 days ago, I walked out of my full-time marketing job for the last time.

  • The one that gave me a paycheck twice a month.
  • The one that had given me THE BEST coworkers and never-before-had ping pong skills.
  • The one with great healthcare, free lunch, free swag, and an incredibly good 401k match.
  • The one with new challenges, problems to solve, and new opportunities every single week.
  • The one I had pretty much not stopped thinking about 24/7 since I walked in the door three years prior.

And I said goodbye to it all.

With just one client lined up, a few months living expenses stashed away, and - quite honestly - a boatload of anxiety.

It was the biggest leap I've ever taken, and one I would have backed out on if Kyle hadn't been there telling me he believed in me for weeks on end. (And... if I would have known pandemic that would change everything was right around the corner, HA! I would probably still be there).

But it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Even though it's about 10x harder than I originally thought it would be.

Here are 5 things I've learned in the last 365 days of running a small business:

1. Grit is KEY.

As someone who never really developed this skill... it's hard.

  • TIt's hard to get on the next phone call after a hard rejection.
  • It's hard to decide to keep going even though you haven't gotten to where you thought you would.
  • It's hard to fight off imposter syndrome and just. keep. going.
  • It's hard to face your bookkeeping software after a particularly tough month.
  • It's hard to keep putting yourself out there even when you're exhausted, tired, and thinking that a twice-a-month salary from a full-time job sounds like a dream.  

If you're in business for the long game - developing grit allows you to keep picking yourself up off the ground, wiping the dust off, and keep moving.

The first year? It's all about grit.

2. Sales is a skill that can be learned.

After working alongside top-level sales people, I knew that one of my weakest points in my entrepreneurial skillset was sales.

Picking up the phone to schedule an appointment gives me anxiety, let alone somebody who might wanna work with me (thank goodness for a job on phone-a-thon back in college... it's the only reason I can function on calls 🤣).

Plus, I've never been one to try and convince others to work with me... I just wanted to find people who wanted to work with me, and not need to really sell them.

I'm still nowhere near perfect at sales, nor do I think I'll ever be recruited for a sales position. BUT I've learned that sales is a skillset that mostly revolves around building trust with people.

Thankfully I'm able to lean into my natural bend towards "trustworthiness" (fun fact: people spilling their life stories to me on public transportation is a fairly common occurrence) while I'm learning to develop my other sales skills.

3. Managing my time without losing my mind.

To preface, me and project management systems are best friends, and I LOVE a good spreadsheet. However, when I launched Hopp Creative, I quickly learned that just managing client projects and an internal list of projects was not enough.

There was also follow-ups and proposals and long-term goals and short-term goals and bookkeeping and... basically what I'm saying is that when you run your own business, you're your own micro CEO, CFO, IT department, project manager, receptionist, and sales manager -- PLUS [insert-whatever-you-do-for-clients-here].

There's a lot. And only a small percentage of all that work directly increases your income. But all of it needs to get done.

Learning how to manage all of these roles without working super-duper-long hours has been a year-long learning experience that is far from over. What I have learned is that paying for trustworthy help even on things that you could do yourself is ALWAYS worth it. I'll take sanity with lower profit margins over higher profit margins with a side of a mental breakdown any day, thanks.

4. Overcomplicating.

I'm a chronic over thinker. And a recovering perfectionist. Give me anyone else's problem and I'll be able to identify the core issue and a resolution quickly. With my own? Well... it's taken me a year to commit to getting content out the door on a regular schedule 🤣

Lesson learned, STOP MAKING IT COMPLICATED. Stop overthinking it. Just get it done. The best thing you can do to grow your business is to stop demanding perfection.

Ship the thing. Send the email. Hit publish on an not-totally-perfect social post. Launch the site.

5. Celebrations make your brain a happier place.

This is probably the most hypocritical thing I'm sharing. I'm horrible at celebrating success. Just about everyone I've ever talked about business with has been like "you need to celebrate and be proud of yourself", and my response is invariably some version of "...but what about all these things I'm not doing yet".

If you're like me - type A, overachiever, perfectionist, wants-to-do-everything-and-wants-it-done-now - stop. Take a breath.

Make a list of all of the things you've accomplished in your business.

Start with the bigger milestones, but don't stop there - work your way down to the tiny things like "sent a scary email" and "kindly set limits with a client". Take a few minutes to celebrate how far you've come, even if it doesn't FEEL like a lot in the moment.

I did this at the prompting of Anna during Visible Impact - and my goodness. Within 30 minutes, I went from genuinely wanting to give up and find a "real job" (my favorite phrase when I'm extra frustrated) to feeling grateful and inspired to work towards new goals and celebrate new victories.

To sum it up...

Owning my own business has absolutely not been all sunshine-and-rainbows. I'm not an optimist, either - I fall squarely into the "realist" category of thinking... but looking back to when I started a year ago, I had no idea how hard owning my own business would be.

But I also vastly underestimated how rewarding it would be.

  • Staring at a signed contract from a new client? Most exciting thing, ever.
  • Launching a website you've poured your heart into for weeks? Thrilling beyond belief.
  • Not constantly feeling like you need a vacation? Healthiest mindset I've ever been in.

I'm so SO grateful for the opportunity to build my own little studio.

It's been a year of growth for me in more ways than one, and while I'm nowhere near where I thought I'd be or where I want to be - I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Join Our Email List

Let's Get Connected

Get tips + tricks for your website, branding and marketing strategies, along with occasional studio updates!

Sign Up For Emails
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.