A little over a year ago I shifted my business in a number of ways. All of these led to me feeling more confident and secure in my small business. In this blog post I’ll share three lessons I learnt in my business over the past year.
This post first appeared in my April 2021 newsletter. Want to read my best tips, strategies and behind-the-scenes first? Sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll also get my energy balance sheet + worksheets to create your own marketing ecosystem.
The biggest change I made in the spring of 2020 was to go international. Up until then, I’d been focusing on local workshops and primarily face-to-face mentoring. In early March of 2020 (just before the pandemic hit!) I decided to shift my business to focus on online 1:1 mentoring for international clients. This change led to other changes, including the three lessons I learnt in my business that I share below.
3 lessons I learnt in my business this past year
lesson 1: niching
The idea for my business came to me more or less fully formed one morning in December 2018. I was cycling into town, when I passed a woman around my own age cycling towards me. There was nothing very particular about her. It was the middle of the morning. I imagined that she was on her way to do her own thing. Perhaps she was on her way to her own business, or to take a yoga class. From that one image, my business was born. I decided that I wanted to support small business owners to be more intentional with how they spend their time and energy.
In the months that followed, that image got muddled as I started building my business. Even though the original idea was fairly specific, I quickly became terrified of scaring potential clients off by being too focused.
At first, I was terrified of scaring customers off if I would focus too much on my niche
But: from the moment I started organising workshops, small business owners were most drawn to them. Graphic designers, yoga teachers, women who owned their own beauty salons and cafes—they found me, somehow, and came to learn how to become more intentional with their time and space. And I loved working with them.
Nonetheless I often found myself wanting to be everything to everyone. And while I think that what I do is valuable for many people, a little over ten months ago I decided to focus (refocus) on small business owners.
Another part where I niched was in the kind of mentoring I was offering.
From the beginning I wanted to support people around time and energy. But I struggled with making that specific enough—my website copy felt vague even to me at times. Around the same time that I decided to focus on small business owners, I landed on the three categories that are at the core of what I offer. My mission is to help small business owners set + affirm boundaries, make social media and marketing work for them, and run their business from a place of energy.
Boundaries and how we spend our time and energy (and on what) has interested me for years. I love hearing how people spend their days. There are two things that I come back to again and again around this topic.
In need of more help setting boundaries that feel good in your business?
Check out my guide for strategies, prompts + templates to set boundaries in your business that feel good for your life + your business.
The first is that we do have more room to organise our days in a way that works for us and our business. Depending on your season of life these might be only small changes. But small changes can make sure a huge difference.
It is not your fault that you feel overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted or unfulfilled
The second is that there’s so much unnecessary suffering around how we spend our time + energy. A lot of this is caused by the systems that surround us. While we might not be able to immediately change the big things, there’s a lot of conditioning around work and life that we can change.
The ideas around productivity that have become ingrained in us, for instance. I love helping business owners create more space around this. To feel more spacious. To help them see that it is not their fault that they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted or unfulfilled. But that there are ways that we can make changes.
Are you ready for the next step?
If these lessons and changes resonate with you, how about exploring working together?
I can help you feel more purposeful and focused in your business (without working more!), set boundaries, feel more focused + purposeful around social media + marketing, find a way out of the hustle and juggle, and more.
If you just can’t shake the feeling that things could be and feel different, get in touch.
lesson 2: leaning into what feels good
This phrase has become a bit of a cliche. And while it is also a privilege to do this, I do believe that all of us can find what feels good to us and lean into it. This might be a small thing like tweaking your working hours, or a much bigger thing such as pivoting your business.
There’s so much in our businesses that we do because we feel like we should as business owners. A year-and-a-half ago I was writing newsletters in two languages and creating content for two different Instagram accounts because I felt like I had to serve my original, more local, audience, as well as the international one I wanted to continue to focus on. It wasn’t only exhausting but I also got very little joy out if.
There’s so much in our businesses that we do because we feel like we should as business owners.
For me, leaning into what feels good has meant quietening all the external voices and opinions about what I should do, and tap into what I enjoy doing. The things that light me up + that make me feel all tingly inside.
Some of the changes I made from leaning into what feels good:
- Having one English-language Instagram-account and one English-language newsletter
- Doing more outreach and writing, as well as starting a blog to diversify my marketing in a way that I enjoy and that does not rely so much on social media
- Stop feeling like I need to be everything to everybody and niche
- Reframe the role that social media plays in my business so that there’s less focus on it (and I spend less time + energy on it).
lesson 3: reframing the role that social media plays in my business
The third of the three lessons I learnt in my business is around social media. If you’ve been around for the past couple of months this probably won’t surprise you 😉 It’s also a topic that most of the small business owners I speak to struggle with. And it’s an area in which I’ve made some big changes over the past year (and it feels so good!).
Some of the biggest changes I made around social media:
- I stopped posting five times a week—while this might have led to a little less engagement, I’m no longer spending so much time + energy on social media. This feels good and I no longer feel like social media is my job.
- I stopped looking at the stats. I wasn’t particularly diligent about this anyway, but for a while I did check my follower and engagement stats daily. It made me unhappy and like I was doing things wrong. I realised that things like follower count and engagement are snapshots that don’t give a realistic image of how my business is really doing. And now I can go back to forgetting to check more than once a month 😉
- I’m no longer making content only for social media, but always tie it in with something outside of it: my newsletter, a blog post, my 1:1 mentoring offer, or something else on my website. Creating a marketing ecosystem helped me get really clear on how my marketing works together
- I’ve diversified my marketing so that I no longer feel quite so much as if the success of my business depends on social media.
- I’ve begun to have more conversations with people + collaborate with others to grow my audience that way (and create more engagement).
If you too want to reframe the role that social media plays in your business, my social media guide for small business owners is for you.
I’ve been getting lovely responses to it:
“There are so many tools and resources promising to help with posting on social media, but Astrid’s guide is completely unique as it is about supporting the individual person and guiding you to practice self awareness and intentional use, rather than just more pressure to spend time online” (Jen, Life, Aligned)
“An intelligent and very well balanced guide. After each challenge, I reframed and readjusted my relationship with social media a little further and on completing all challenges, I feel more positive about my online presence, whilst also more in control of the time spent there” (Alex, Storisse)
I hope you enjoyed reading about the three lessons I learnt in my business this past year. Why not take a moment to reflect on your own lessons too?
What are you doing (in your business and your life) because you feel like you should? Where else would you like to spend you energy and time? If you’re unsure about this, using the energy balance sheet for one or more days is a great first step. You get free access to the printable as a subscriber (sign up here!).