Anyone for cake?

Or lessons from an entrepreneur?

Azure Marketing turns 15 today.

It’s a milestone to be celebrated, and as with anything, reflected upon.

Looking back at my journey into entrepreneurship, it wasn’t an easy ride.

And it took many forms.

2003: My initial projects were online marketing contracts through my network of contacts from my former life working at the BBC.

2004: This rapidly evolved into pure web design for small business owners who wanted a strong marketing asset and control over their website.

2004 – 2006: I supplemented my income by delivering tuition in a workshop environment teaching Microsoft office packages and HTML.

2013: I was burning out. I had reached my working capacity, hit my income ceiling and was working insane hours. I realised that something had to change, and I couldn’t change it alone. I invested a terrifying amount of money in a mentorship program and changed my business model.

2014: my focus shifted to delivering programs which teach coaches how to create their own client-attracting websites, and as a consequence, The Website Mentor as a brand emerged.

Any business needs to evolve to move with an ever-changing landscape.

The truth is, I probably didn’t evolve soon enough.

The journey of an entrepreneur is punctuated with challenging and setbacks. If we pay close attention to these as lessons, we can take our businesses to the next level.

Today, I reflect on some of my most valuable business lessons and how they have shaped me as a person and more importantly, how they have helped my business grow.

Here are my 3 Ms of a successful entrepreneur.

1) Mindset

Believe in yourself, your intuition and your ability to achieve your goals.

Our mind monkeys are powerful demons, and if we allow them space, they will derail our dreams.

When we set out on our adventure of entrepreneurship, we’re excited, curious, and energised. It’s easy for us to lose that spark of conviction and self-belief after a few setbacks because failure can look inevitable.

Yet, this is the most critical time to work on reprogramming our brain to win, so we can pivot and learn from our failures and move toward success.

2) Mentorship

Much of that mindset work is impossible to do alone.

When I was busy derailing myself, I was fortunate enough to have the foresight that I needed help.

I only wish I’d done it sooner.

And I truly believe that my working landscape would be radically different if I had recognised the need for guidance much earlier, but I was so busy running my business that I didn’t pay attention to what was shifting around me.

I joined a mentorship program in 2014 and started to reshape my entire business model from delivering 1:1 work, to delivering group programs. It reenergised me, made me love my work again, and gave me a new focus.

Mentoring and coaching can’t be underestimated. If you find the right person to guide you, you will recoup your investment in them several times over.

Someone once said to me ‘You can’t expect others to invest in you until you invest in yourself’. And I now believe that to be infinitely true.

And if you take action on your investments, and implement what you learn on your programs and with your mentor, they actually save you money. Avoiding the pitfalls, the anguish of trying to discover the right way on your own, and the expense of hefty mistakes, can’t be undervalued.

3) Money

Sort your money out.

For years I pottered along with a crude system of bookkeeping and a stressful process for my annual returns. All that changed when I started using software to manage my money. You can read a post that I wrote some time back about my experience of bookkeeping software.

Having a system for organising my money was a game-changer which freed up so much of my time.

I took that to the next level about 18 months ago when I hired a profit strategist who helped me with all of my forecasting, and she helped me put in place an amazing system for budgeting which follows the Profit First method. The money side of my business is now a breeze and I genuinely enjoy working with the figures and love working closely with someone who guides me through the pitfalls of cash flow and profit & loss.

Even if you’re only bringing in a trickle of income now, it’s absolutely worth investing in putting systems in place to rid yourself of the pickle you can find yourself in further down the line.

Summary

My journey has been far from plain-sailing. The happy truth is that I feel more in flow and connected now than I ever have.

It took work to get here, but I truly believe that mastering the 3 Ms will shift your business into the next gear. It took me 15 years to figure out the true value of them – I hope you’re a faster learner than I was!

But the main priority is to be happy. Time is something you never recover, and you’ll spend a lot of time building your business. Make sure it’s a happy experience.

The WordPress Success Bootcamp is my signature 12-week program which teaches coaches and therapists to create their own client-attracting website. My next group starts on 16th April 2018, and to celebrate my 15 years in business, I’ll be announcing some really special bonuses next week for anyone who joins me on the program. Join the WordPress Happy Community to be the first to find out about them, or sign up for a free Website Jumpstart Session.

Author: Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington is a website mentor on a mission to empower 500 small businesses this year to take control of their own website and online marketing. She has been working to help small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their websites and online visibility since 2003.