Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector
Can you believe that it’s been 4 years since I started Blue Gurus???
We turn 4 years old on Friday, April 26th. It feels more like two years… I think it’s because I’ve been having FUN and LEARNING so much along the way.
Mic and I were talking about what we should write about for our “Birthday Blog”. He suggested that I think about the most important lessons I’ve learned since opening the doors for business. I really liked the idea, so you will find the top 10 below… but first I wanted to say THANK YOU!
Thank you to all of the people and companies in Kansas City that have believed in me, Mic and Melissa and continue to trust us to help you accomplish your goals. I can’t list everyone, but if I tried, it would include our clients, everyone in our peer advisory groups, our referral partners, our vendors and followers!
That would be a great list… I went into Quickbooks Online reporting just to get a feel on the client side. It was interesting to see a handful of clients investing hundreds of dollars in 2009 – 2010 grow to dozens of clients investing thousands of dollars today! The numbers tell me that we are maturing as an organization and it’s both exciting and humbling. We appreciate everyone that is part of our ongoing story!
Now on to the list!
1) Take good care of your clients and even better care of yourself.
I struggle with this… my tendency is to help, regardless of the impact on my personal life. I get so caught up with being there for others that I stress myself out. I’m a better person personally and professionally when I’m rested and in a good mood! Mic had to tell me that repeatedly for months for it to stick.
2) You already know the best people to hire.
Sometimes you meet awesome people that you would like to work with, but you might not have a position available. Figure out a way to stay in touch, and be up front with them about your hopes of working together.
I’ve helped more than 10 companies hire people I know in the past 4 years only because I keep in touch with good people and plug them in when my clients need help.
I’m thankful to be working with Mic, and it only happened because we stayed in touch on a regular basis for almost a year before I was able to bring him on board.
3) Make time for vacation….and turn your cell phone OFF.
I used to struggle with the fact that time away impacts our bottom line. I started taking more vacation time and lightening my overall workload, and you know what? Our revenue continued to grow at a solid pace!
I know the math doesn’t seem to make sense, but you should try it! One of the reasons I go on scuba diving trips is that there isn’t an option when it comes to cell phones being on or off. Usually, there is no cell coverage or internet service where I’m going.
4) Make sure you know what you are trying to accomplish in the business and don’t let anyone influence you to stray from that purpose.
Consider their advice, but evaluate carefully before taking it. With Blue Gurus, I set out to build a business where I could pick and choose great people and companies to work with and make a comfortable living while helping others.
I see companies that have to keep awful clients because they have a large staff and rent to pay. I see friends that used to love their job lose their passion because they moved into management. I’m not going to let that happen for me or my business.
5) Recognize your team members often.
It doesn’t matter how big your company is. The first year Mic began working with me, I presented him with an employee of the year award. I had a trophy made and presented it to him over a nice dinner with our spouses.
It was sincere and at the same time funny because we were the only two people in the business at the time. (I wrote a blog post about it and we got a lot of positive feedback on it.) When was the last time someone told you that you’re doing a great job?
6) Evaluate your trusted vendors on a regular basis.
Make sure they are growing along with you. Don’t be afraid to make a change when it is the right business call. The attorney I started out with did decent work, but I am more comfortable with Mike Jones of the Jones Law Firm. Mike and I are also in a peer advisory group together.
Sure, it was an awkward conversation with my previous attorney, but it was the right call for the business. I don’t always get these decisions right… I changed financial planners and ended up going down a path I wasn’t comfortable with. I went back to Joe Pribula at Wells Fargo in 2011 and couldn’t be happier (and appreciate how gracious he was about the whole thing).
7) Heartfelt apologies go a long way when you have screwed up.
Don’t be too embarrassed or proud to apologize. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to apologize to my wife Trista, Mic and others for being impatient. I know when I’m doing it, and I know I’m being a jerk. When I recognize that it’s happening, I try to hit the reset button and apologize.
8) Don’t be afraid to fire a client that isn’t a fit.
Luckily, this has rarely happened in the past 4 years. When it did need to happen, I made the decision quickly and avoided a lot of potential pain by moving on. The tricky part is realizing quickly that it’s either going to cost you on the front end or the back end… trust your gut and make the call.
9) Tell your clients that you appreciate their business every chance you get.
We say it on our invoices, in our emails, and in person on a regular basis. We don’t ever want our clients to feel like we take their trust for granted. Starting my own business was scary and exciting, and a lot of people helped make it work. I won’t lose the perspective that those people and the new people I meet are the ones allowing us to succeed.
10) Adopt a not -for-profit organization on a regular basis and give back to the community that supports your business.
Make sure your team is part of the experience. We’re proud to have done this with lots of organizations including City Union Mission, Marian Hope Center, Spofford Home, Rockhurst University, Avila University, and Spay & Neuter of Kansas City to name a few. We are stronger personally and professionally as a result of giving back.
11) When you are tired, take a break. When you are really tired, take a really long break!
Don’t tell yourself that you can’t afford to take the time off. You can’t afford not to. If you don’t, it will impact your mood, your relationships, your effectiveness and ultimately your health. I got to a point where one day blended with the next. It felt more like a grind than fun. By scheduling regular breaks in my week, I was able to catch up and start enjoying things again.
12) Things will always change.
Don’t hold on to the past so tightly that you miss the opportunity to welcome the future with open arms. I find that people are afraid of change. For me, it feels like opportunity.
Thanks for reading! If you have any insight or advice for our readers, be sure to post in the comments below!