Entrepreneurship Learnings #1

The Social Local just turned 1 year old this month. I can’t believe it’s been a year already and at the very same time, only one year? I feel like I’ve had this passion inside me to run my own business for much longer than that, I just never knew it. I recently answered a few questions as part of a magazine interview on digital entrepreneurship, and one of the questions had me talking about the biggest lessons I’ve learned in business so far. I had to fight to keep the answer short because I’ve learnt so much in just one year. Allow me to elaborate.

  1. Don’t mix friendship with business – it’s so hard to make this work, I’ve found.
  2. Don’t take someone on word alone, get it in writing.
  3. When a client chooses you over others, show confidence not surprise.
  4. Don’t be afraid to outsource to good freelancers.
  5. Support the little guy.
  6. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
  7. When one door closes, another almost always opens.
  8. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to clients who expect too much and pay too little.
  9. Say yes to new work, even if you’re at full capacity (that’s where outsourcing comes in).
  10. Speak your mind, your opinion matters.
  11. Don’t accept meetings just for the sake of being polite. Get agendas. Weigh it up against your time worth.
  12. Say no. It’s ok, you won’t die.
  13. Know your weaknesses, work on them.

At times I’ve had moments of utter dread and panic that I’m the one left in charge to make decisions. Other days this thrills me no end, especially the moments where I’m sitting barefoot under the aircon in my office with my chair leaning back talking to an international and executive client. In the back of my mind there’s a tiny little voice going, “Look at you, fancy pants! This is YOUR client, on YOUR phone, using YOUR services and expertise. Following YOUR advice. Wow!”. It’s even better when that moment consists of me not wearing a bra and rocking bed hair (admittedly, these days and few and far between lately since, with more clients comes more actual work, which requires you to kind of be presentable).

One of my projects hit the media this week. The project will change lives for the better and will enrich and educate youth in Africa. The client is big-dream stuff. I looked at my industry peers sharing the news article announcing the project and I sat back in awe. Of myself, my client and my life right now. I had a hand in that, it was me and my team that did the digital and social strategy. It’s going to be incredible and huge. That, coupled with the fact that I’ve been consulting to for a while, but now asked to lead a division of one of the world’s largest, global consulting firms, and I realised – I’m doing ok. More than that, I’m doing awesomely right now.

But, I know I’ve got so much to learn still and do on a daily basis. I am nowhere near expert level entrepreneurship, I know that I need support and a sounding board of other entrepreneurs and I’m sure I can’t be the only one. So come on, SA women-lead and owned entrepreneurs – where’re you at? Let’s start a club. I’m being serious.