It has been 12 years since I sent out an invoice to my first client. A client whose website unfortunately never got built!

Fortunately, the next 50 plus turned out much better.

I am grateful for every single person who has made the decision over the past 12 years to trust me with an integral part of their business identity. And for the lessons running my own business has taught me. Appropriately, here are 12 of them…

1. Get networking

I can honestly say that over 90% of the work I have done as Wise Genius has come from networking. Being part of a community of fellow business owners is invaluable. It should also be enjoyable.

Since 2020, I have been a member of Drive, The Collaborative Network. The support, camaraderie, and friendships I have built with fellow members during the pandemic have been essential, and it is such a joy to finally be meeting up with people face-to-face again.

I also spent 8 years as a member of the Women in Business Network. Whilst I often dreaded my monthly minute, I made valuable connections that continue today.

Get out there and try different groups on for size. You’ll know when you’ve found the right one when you come away from a meeting buzzing with ideas and connections.

2. Ask for help

This is where your network comes into its own. Don’t wait until a situation has become critical. Chances are there is someone out there who has been there before and is more than willing to give you the benefit of their experience.

3. Keep learning

There will always be something new to learn. For me, this is part of the fun of running my own business. Some things I’ve learnt this year…

  • How to use Xero to manage my accounts
  • Setting up goals with Google Analytics
  • Newsletter sign-up automations with MailerLite

Plus, countless website-related tweaks!

4. Don’t be afraid to say no

There was a time when I would say yes to every enquiry that came my way. Now, I am more discerning. I find it helps to have a set of questions to ask a potential client. Mine include…

  • What is motivating you or enabling you to do this project now?
  • How will you measure the success of this project?
  • If our working together could only achieve one thing, what would that be?
  • How much money are you expecting to invest in this project?

Don’t be afraid to say no if the project doesn’t fill you with excitement or if there is no synergy between you and your prospect. You deserve to do work that makes you feel happy.

5. Set boundaries

As Brene Brown explains in her book Dare to Lead,

“Setting boundaries is making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why.”

They help protect your time, your energy, and what you are prepared to do in the name of your business. For example, requesting invoices be paid by a certain time, answering emails within 24 hours, keeping clients up to date with progress on their project, and agreeing on milestones.

Letting your clients know what your boundaries are will ensure your projects run smoothly. Just remember to stick to them!

6. Define your own business culture

This is something I have recently started to take more seriously. The world of employment conditions us to work Monday to Friday, 9am til 5pm, maybe with a lunch break. And we take this pattern into running our own businesses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You’re in charge and get to work how best fits your lifestyle. There will be days when you feel like doing nothing and others when you are full of energy and ideas, and raring to go. Embrace the flow.

7. You won’t be right for everyone

Sometimes the solution you offer isn’t right for the potential client. And that’s OK. Knowing that you are NOT right for some people is as important as knowing that you ARE for others.

8. Cherish the good clients…

I find that regular communication, tea, and cake work the best.

9. And be prepared to move on from the bad

When you get that feeling in your gut that things aren’t working out with a particular client, listen to it. And act. It can be hard to move on and admit that the project hasn’t worked out. You owe it to yourself and your business to step back.

10. Be clear about what you do…

And state it across your website and social media. There is nothing worse than having to search around a website to work out whether this is the right business for you.

11. And about what you don’t

Being clear about what you don’t do is as important as telling people what you do. Because I can build websites, doesn’t mean I can sort out any computer-related problems. The same goes for SEO, copywriting, and graphic design. Chances are, you know someone who does the things that you can’t. This is what your network is for. Refer them!

12. Celebrate. Often!

Landing the big projects, engagement on social media, hitting send on your email newsletter, an invoice getting paid, new clients, launching a website, an email from an old client, smiling faces on a Zoom call, sorting out a coding issue, a referral from a trusted business friend… celebrate all this and everything else in between!

Colorful confetti falling down with a teal background

If you would like to find out how working with me could give you a cause for celebration, or you fancy a chat about anything website-related over tea and cake, please get in touch.

Image credit: Jason Leung on Unsplash.