Lessons in Entrepreneurship: Reflecting on Year 1

1 year cupcake for Appeal Marketing

Appeal Marketing celebrates its ONE YEAR Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe that one year ago, I hit “submit” on the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website to officially form a LLC.

As a small business owner, I’ve certainly learned a lot in year one and continue to learn each and everyday.  It’s been countless hours of hard work that has been challenging and extremely rewarding.

Here are some lessons in entrepreneurship from our first year in business:

Ask for Help

As a small business owner, you can feel like you’re on your own little island, sometimes without the umbrella drink in hand!  To combat such feelings of isolation, I have learned to ask for help, seeking advice and guidance from my network or even small business resources. Here are a few that I’d recommend:

Small Business Resources

Outside of online resources, I have had a lot of help from my personal connections. For example, before I even filed for my own LLC online (something that is surprisingly easy, by the way), I had guidance from a trusted attorney and friend, Angela Campion.  Her help was invaluable in walking me through the process and hearing her own story of launching her own legal practice.

Similarly, I’ve found value meeting fellow entrepreneurs, such as my attorney, and other business owners who started up in their own areas of expertise, ranging from printing, bookkeeping, tv production, to market research, digital marketing and graphic design.  Everyone has a unique story that brought him or her to entrepreneurship – such stories have provided inspiration and guidance.

I have enjoyed catching up with many of my connections and meeting new people to exchange ideas and learn from their experiences.  This informal network has grown to be my tribe, my support system beyond friends and family.

A big THANK YOU to two people in my tribe: my husband and sister, who have been my best supporters and cheerleaders.

Get out of your Comfort Zone

Many of us are not comfortable with uncertainty and change – two realities of entrepreneurship. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone many times, through networking and meeting new people, asking for help, making cold calls, warm calls, and face to face sales calls.  I’ve made countless mistakes,  heard “no,” and “don’t call me again,” but I’ve bounced back and learned from those rejections.  I’m getting better at preparing as much as I can and then just simply going for it.  When I need a pep talk and a good laugh, I watch this amazing SNL clip:

Find your Style

In crafting Appeal Marketing’s story, I had to reflect on my career and truly identify my strengths to reach my target customers (see who we help).  I spent a lot of time researching and benchmarking against other agencies, only to realize that I could only be “me” and present my unique background in channel marketing as an asset, especially to businesses that sell through wholesale, retail, and dealer channels.  By embracing what makes me different, I am carving out my own niche in the marketing consulting space and doing so in a way that feels authentic and true to me.

Balance is Key

There is ALWAYS something that I could or should be doing for my business.  Last summer, as I built appealmktg.com, I felt stressed out with the magnitude of the task before me.  I divided up tasks, set goals, and relied on a big to-do list to make building my website more manageable.

I’m passionate about my work, and I often want to talk about it even outside of my worktime.  I’ve learned to tone it down a bit and make sure our dinnertime conversations are not all about work.

I’m also passionate about being a mom, which was one of my main reasons for staring my own business, so I could be my own boss and have more flexibility while still having fulfilling work. Here’s me balancing my photo shoot of my one year anniversary with my two sweet children.

Appeal marketing owner and her kids.
Me and my kids, celebrating 1 year in business.

By shutting down, and taking time to relax  with my family and friends, I come back more energized and inspired to buckle down and get to work.  Often times fresh ideas and new perspectives pop up during down-time.

Never Stop Learning

In reflecting on how I can best support my clients and prospective clients, I know that there’s always something new to learn.  Ever-changing technology – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, Constant Contact email marketing, SEO, Google products, digital advertising – keep us all on our toes.  I am constantly learning!

I love reading, attending marketing workshops, networking, and listening to my clients to keep on learning to improve my marketing services.  I’m so excited to keep on learning and working hard each and every day to continue supporting clients and growing Appeal Marketing!

Thank you to all of my supporters, social media followers, connections, friends, and family!