Once you figure out what works, you can apply those lessons to new ventures.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When I started my business eight years ago, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about being an entrepreneur.
I quickly discovered I knew nothing about running a successful business.
In those years, I realized how challenging it actually is to provide a service and differentiate yourself from others, especially in a crowded place such as social media. The number of digital marketers and social media managers in almost every corner of the world is staggering. There are thousands of them, if not hundreds of thousands.
These are the lessons I learned from running my business that I am now applying to my ventures.
To expand my operations beyond the core service, I wanted (and still want) to build additional businesses that will allow me to do what I love and reach my goals. One of the ways I expanded my business is by partnering with individuals in my space on specific projects.
But I felt support for women entrepreneurs in digital marketing was lacking. Many organizations help entrepreneurs. Others help women. And still, others help digital marketers. So one of my goals became uplifting women entrepreneurs and business owners.
The problem is many digital marketing and business support groups and networks are very male-focused. They don’t vibe with me as well as a group designed for a female entrepreneur would. Since my partner Angela and I couldn’t find a group for women entrepreneurs, we created one.
We have a podcast now and the group we wanted — a supportive community of women who are also digital marketers who share our ideas and challenges. That was one of the first companies I built with a partner, reaching my goals and addressing the problems I wanted to address. Now I’m applying the idea of creating a venture based on a partnership to another business.
Be a smart entrepreneur
Being smart means applying the lessons you’ve learned to your new ideas and new ventures. Partnerships worked for me before, so I’m doing it again. It’s tried and tested, so to speak.
What have you picked up along the way? It doesn’t necessarily have to be your experience either. What did those in your niche or space do? It’s important to always study the competition. Their mistakes can be lessons for you, and their wins can be ideas for you.
Conserve the cash
Perhaps the biggest part of being smart is always conserving cash, no matter how good the business is. Money does talk, and it’s what you can use to bring your ideas to life, to market and to keep it rolling until you see your returns.
Evolve with your customers
Realize that it all starts and ends with the customers. Continuous improvement of your product or service and tailoring it to your audience’s needs is essential. Be agile so you can adapt to your customer preferences and needs. Of course, you won’t be agile if you don’t work smart. Working smart is important. When I first started, I was flying the machine and building it at the same time, and it wasn’t a good method.
Create systems, and streamline your processes so you can replicate them for every new campaign or venture.
Keep learning and keep experimenting
You might not see the very big jumps or the big growth curves you’re looking for in a business. But you can apply the learnings you have accumulated as a solo business owner to other ventures of yours. That’s when you start seeing real growth.
Since I began my entrepreneurial journey, I never stopped learning. It’s gratifying to apply the techniques I’ve learned to my current and new businesses. The key is to always keep trying them out.
Entrepreneurs should understand that the world is evolving rapidly. We’ll never know how a company founded a year ago could change the world today. As you keep learning and experimenting, you gain the knowledge and expertise from your experience, and you gain confidence to apply what you’ve learned to new ventures.