Lessons from my Second Year in Business

SPV Market Research is midway through its second year in business and, having survived as well as experiencing growth, there have been successes, failures, decisions I would take back and choices I wish I had made. Here are 25 lessons from my first year and a half in business:

  1. Night sweats will (probably) not kill you, try thinking of them as a midnight trip to a Jacuzzi

  2. Networking is key, but, letting go of networking as the ladder to success and thinking of it as developing a sustaining community of partners and friends is crucial

  3. Every idea, even the bad ones, are worth considering

  4. Old fashioned realities are still true: You will spend more than you think and make less than you think on the way to developing a thriving business

  5. A thriving business will grow beyond you and no longer belong to you but to the ecosystem (clients, partners, employees and observers) you have created while creating the business

  6. Answer your calls and emails and send only emails and make only calls that are important to you and have a point – basically be polite with your outreach and considerate to the outreach efforts of others

  7. Say no to any work that goes against your values and mission no matter how potentially profitable, but be nice about it

  8. Keep your word – including the word you gave to yourself when you started on this path

  9. Volunteer to help others for no reason but to help others and if you cannot, be honest about why

  10. Always do your best work (yes, I know duh) and remember that the independent, objective and excellent work you do may not win all of the available market but will genuinely bring value to the customers and partners it does win over

  11. Please and thank you, seriously, say them a lot even if someone is rude to you – Mom was right, manners matter

  12. Don’t always have an agenda, they are obvious as well as annoying

  13. Take work that stretches your skills while staying true to your core values and vision, this is where creativity and success come from

  14. Use all that time lying awake at night wondering what the heck to do next to follow an original train of thought, or two or three trains of thought, to the business or personal epiphany that it or they might prove to be

  15. Never lose the joy of the very work that inspired the vision that led you to want to share that vision and stay true to it through unprofitable and profitable times alike – the work, the process, the amazing feeling of being fully engaged with the process and the work, this is your true core competency

  16. Stay true to your vision for your business and also be nimble and willing to retrace your steps and start again and again and again and yes, again

  17. Not all advice is worth taking, much of it is like a box of free clothes left on the curb, that is, worth discarding

  18.  Then again, there may be something in that box that fits you perfectly or can be altered to do so

  19. Unfortunately, if you are not terrified at least part of the time, well, you probably are not taking the interesting and worthwhile risks necessary to get you to where you never expected to go

  20. If you are not joyful at least part of the time, well, you took a wrong turn, turn back or, try a new direction

  21. Try and look kindly on the motives of others and hope that they are doing the same for you

  22. Not every decision has to be bottom-line based, try a new profit/loss equation: Interesting work + potential of a wider good – cost (and/or time) of doing the work + value (revenue) of doing the work = values driven profit

  23. ASK for the business, harder than you think

  24. Inspiration is everywhere, even in night sweats

  25. Finally, if you are only doing it for the potential of a huge payout, well, better pay closer attention to those night sweats