The raw learnings from 10 years in business

29 Aug

The raw learnings from 10 years in business

Many of my peers have recently commented that they have not celebrated important milestones in their business.  Whether it be first anniversary, ten years, acquisition or sale.  The reasons vary from not making the time, to not seeing the importance at the time.  There was certainly a theme to the reactions I got from every person when they mentioned it to me.  It was one of disappointment that they hadn’t, and reflection as to why they didn’t stop to give themselves a pat on the back.  I even felt a tinge of regret from them.

For me I never gave it a second thought.  I was always going to celebrate wattsnext’s 10th Birthday and it was always going to be BIG!  I had to do it!  I felt an obligation to myself and to all of those people who have contributed to the journey. I wanted to acknowledge that we were one of 2% of businesses that survive 10 years. I wanted to thank those who had helped me and reflect on the lessons I had learnt.  I wanted to respect the risks I had taken and sacrifices I had made.  I also wanted to let go of the mistakes, regrets and disappointments of the past and I wanted to enjoy right now.  Because we all know that tomorrow is not a promise and that all we really have is right now.

Most of those in the wattsnext community will know that we certainly celebrated!  We shared photos of my three sons crowd surfing, guests carving up the dancefloor, everyone wearing funny headpieces, professional dancers performing on the bar and the many shots and exotic drinks that were consumed.  It was a really fun, happy, extravagant party!  Exactly how I imagined!

For those who were not there, I also shared my lessons from the last 10 years with my guests on the night.

These were written at 3am one morning in the week leading up.  I didn’t go back to them and tidy up before the party.  I thought I would keep them as they came out in the early hours when everyone else was asleep.  After all I have spent many times awake at 3am thinking about my business so it just seemed right to keep them as is.

Here they are:

  • When times are good you will be able to reward yourself with nice things but they will never truly reflect the hard work and sacrifices that has gone in that no one saw
  • Many of those that start with you won’t last the distance no matter how much you want them too
  • Breastfeeding my 3 boys for 13 months each whilst I grew my business is my proudest achievement. But it was just a choice. If you want to do something you can make it happen.
  • There is nothing that will replace gritty, hard work – no strategy, no money, no fancy contacts
  • Most days you have no idea what you are doing…but you are expected to so looking like you do is important!
  • If you want to squeeze everything out of life and discover your true potential, you have to be prepared to make some pretty terrible mistakes along the way.
  • When you are going well people will put you down and bag everything you do and who you are, but amongst those there are cheerleaders who celebrate every little win you have even when you can’t see it.
  • No matter how many times you write your resignation letter there is still no one there to accept it!
  • There is nothing that wastes energy more than mother guilt so there is no time for that in business or life. We are no one to tell our kids how to live, but we are everything to show them how it can be done!
  • There is absolutely nothing that beats a winning day in business!
  • There is always more in you than you realize.
  • There are two key ingredients to business success – resilience (getting up when others wouldn’t) and curiosity – an overwhelming need to know if you can do it
  • You will lose friends and in my case family along the way, but gain a tribe that will be stronger than blood
  • The materialistic goals you strive for and achieve will never be as delicious as the days you have when your business is winning…whether it’s a new client, a happy employee or a day that just goes smoothly
  • It’s the little things that count – an employee staying back just to say you are doing a good job and they love working in your business, your kids surprising you at the airport even though you have travelled every week for the last 4 months, a client saying your quote is too low and you deserve to be paid at a higher rate …just kidding, that’s never happened!
  • We worry about our employees every single day – are they happy at work, are they happy at home, are they healthy, what can we do for them?
  • A day will not go by that you don’t think about your business, not one, no matter how far away you may travel or what idealic island you put yourself on. It’s always there because it is a part of you and you can’t leave it behind.
  • Being a woman in business means that I am a person in business who happens to have a vagina (yes I did say that and it really means that I have never let being a woman hold me back in anyway, quite the opposite in fact).
  • Deep down you know the bad days are because of you but rarely recognise that good days are also. The health of your business is a mirror image of the health of you.
  • It will make you feel like the most alone person in the world until you open up to your fellow entrepreneurs and you realise we are all alone together!
  • The more you you are the more real the people you attract.
  • Music fixes everything
  • Money does matter
  • Lots of days business does come first
  • The more I learn the more I change. So if you haven’t spoken to me for a while let’s get reacquainted!
  • There is no plan b, there is just you being you.  My goals in the future are so unrealistic and yet are not negotiable so I just need to ensure that I stick to plan a and live a life that is authentic to me.

Of course I could continue with pages and pages of learnings and lessons.  The learning never stops.

Happy birthday to wattsnext.  My first and forever business love.  I look forward to celebrating many more wattsnext birthdays and now the birthdays of my newest startup Scrappi.

Thank you to all of you have encouraged, supported, shared and generally just been a cheerleader throughout the journey.  It means more than you will ever know.

Sel x

This blog first appeared at Sue-EllenWatts.com – to view the original blog click here


Sue-Ellen Watts , Founder

Sue-Ellen is a visionary and inspiring leader. With a background in leading high performing teams, strategic recruitment and leadership coaching Sue-Ellen offers meaningful experience and insight. She delivers expertise with gutsy honesty and commercial realism. A true entrepreneur, Sue-Ellen is hell bent on disrupting the way businesses use HR. She won’t stop until SME leaders collectively bring strategic HR to the boardroom table. Sue-Ellen is curious about technology and the future of work, using her business as an experimental lab of forward thinking techniques and methodologies.

1 COMMENT
  • Jesse B
    Reply

    You must setup goals for your business! Once you achieve those goals! Celebrate those victories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to The HR Disruptor