A Year Of Learnings

A Year Of Learnings

I can't quite believe that My Skin Feels is a year old this month! 

It seems like the longest year EVER but also one that's gone by in a flash. No one tells you about the amount of personal growth you go on when you launch a business into the world. I don't want to say it's like 'having a child', but there are definitely some real similarities. For one, you would do anything to protect it, you have to nurture it, feed and water it, learn with it and from it and it becomes an extension of you by default. 

By business school standards, there's a 'method' to launching a business, one that’s been tried and tested time and time again. Does it work? Yes, for the majority, following a structure of growing a business is what drives sales, customers and growth to your brand, but one big thing I've learnt this year is to look outside the box. If your business is like your 'child' it's an extension of your personality too, and if you, like me, are someone who's not great at sticking to the rules or following others just for the sake of it, then why should your business be any different. 

There have been some MAJOR milestones this year, some that I could only have dreamed of achieving when I launched MSF. Some real low points, mainly to do with my personal development rather than the business itself, and the day-to-day panic of 'OMG I've put everything into this, what happens if it fails...' but it's ok, like anything in life I have come to realise that these feelings come in and out, and when you launch a biz you're on a bit of a journey whether you like it or not. 

Here I wanted to list the 12 most important things I have learnt. One for every month of MSF. I think I am going to make this a yearly practice as it's been so amazing to take stock and look at how far we've come with a hope that it might help or inspire others to do the same.

- Always listen to your gut!

If you know me, then you will know my other job has a lot to do with my intuition and listening to my gut (you can check it out here), so you would think I'd have this nailed for myself and my business, but it can be super hard to listen to your gut when there's lots of noise or different opinions around a certain decision. Let me give you an example.

I recently won a huge investment opportunity. It was for 200k - 250K, so a lot of money, but from my first meeting something didn't feel quite right. My gut feeling was 'if I win this, I'm not going to take the money' but after meeting them again, I began to loose sight of my intuition and once I was told I had won, I began to listen to lots of different opinions around me and the fear kicked in causing me to have thoughts like the below:

'What if this is a once in a lifetime opportunity'

'It's so much money to turn down'

'I could do so much with the money, I could launch new products and build the brand quicker'

Although it was incredibly tempting, I had to go back to the long term goals of my business, re-connect with my purpose, what I'm trying to achieve, and make a decision based entirely on my gut feeling which was that it didn't feel right from the get go. A HUGE decision to make, but I know if I had chosen to go down that path, it would not sit right for me or MSF and who knows what the long term effects could be - SO please, take it from me, listen to your gut, it's aways right!

- Know when it's constructive criticism

Your brand is your baby but know when someone is offering thoughts, advice or criticism from a place of love. Not everything is a personal attack on you or your business, although it might feel like it. Take everything with a pinch of salt and try to see your biz though someone else's lenses.

- Don't fear rejection

Not everyone is going to like you, your products or what you're offering. Rejection hurts but don't let your ego or your pride get in the way of putting yourself out there.

This video pretty much sums it up...

- Stand up for what you believe in

Your values and beliefs are what make you and your business unique. Stand firm in your boundaries and don't let them be swayed by outside influences. You got this!

- Don't loose sight of why you started your business

This is a biggie. With all the noise it can be very easy to loose sight of why you started and what you're trying to achieve. Always go back to your mission, and know what your end goal is. Although it might vary, don't loose sight of where you're going or where you've been.

- Take every opportunity 

Talk to everyone and take every opportunity shown to you!

A great example was at one of my very first markets. It was the hottest day on record and it was pretty quiet. There was a man standing next to me waiting for his wife to finish browsing, so I asked him if I could practice my pitch to him, no sales push, I just wanted to see if he understood my brand, what I was selling and get his feedback.

I pitched him the brand, he had a lot of tough questions for me to answer and I thought 'he hated it' until he pulled out his black Amex and bought x3 of each product - which was my biggest sale to date. The moral of the story is, you never know who your customer is, talk to everyone and take every opportunity.

- Network for your life

It's so important. Some of my contacts from 10 years ago are now an integral part of my business and I couldn't be happier about it. Talk to other founders, share your knowledge and support each other.

- You can't do everything 

This is one I'm just getting to grips with. You have to set a manageable pace, especially like me if you're doing it solo. Don't feel guilty for taking some time away from your to-do list. Remember to exercise (something I am just getting back to after 9 months off) if you're not fed and watered you can't give the same energy to your business. 

- Be selfish 

In this period you have to be a little selfish. Like I said, if a business is like having a baby, you know that juggling personal life is going to be a little tricky while you get things off the ground. If your peers don't get it, it's not your fault. You have to put your all into launching your business and your social obligations will have to feel how they feel about it. You won't be the same person going into launching a business as you will coming out -  it's as simple as that.

- Hard work pays off

It really does, even if it feels like it's taking a reeeally long time to pay off, it will. There will be a moment where you feel like it's all been worth it. For me it was this.

- Find your people

Find people who believe in what you are doing, are passionate about the same goals, ethics and values and who want to support you and your mission. This goes for everyone. Your suppliers, your fulfilment and anyone you let into your business. Don't let it be tainted by people with energy that doesn't align with your own.

- Put yourself out there

Finally and probably the most important lesson of all. You have to be ok with putting yourself out there. Your face, your voice and your opinions. It's so hard in the world that we live in not to feel self-conscious about it all, but the more you can feel comfortable and confident in yourself and your message, the more the brand will resonate with others. This was a huge obstacle for me but a year in, I think I'm finally getting there!


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