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Summary:

I’m not going to let myself off the hook with this one by saying that I have no regrets; that all my mistakes have led me to this point. There are lessons I’ve learned; if given a do-over, there are things I would have done differently.

I’m not going to let myself off the hook with this one by saying that I have no regrets and that all my mistakes have led me to this point. There are definitely lessons I’ve learned, and if given a do-over, there are things I would have done differently from the beginning. There are a few things that I know would have helped me tremendously in getting my business off the ground faster and would have saved me a lot of time, money and frustration.

If I had it to do it over again, here are the things I would have done differently.

  1. I would have avoided the billable-hour trap. I have no doubt, if I had things to do over again, I would have created more automated and group-centric sources of income from the very start. I would not have made one-on-one services such a big part of my revenue. I think setting a business up that way limits how far you can go and eventually burns you out. On top of that, in many cases, you can provide the same services that you would provide one-on-one in other ways and reach the same result. For example, instead of provide one-on-one consulting or coaching, you could provide a group program or membership site.
  2. I would have set up and maintained a steady content stream. No matter what the business, online or brick-and-mortar, creating online content is a great way to promote it and generate leads. Every single contact and client who has found me over the past few years has done so through content I’ve created online. Just a few days ago, in fact, someone contacted me and mentioned articles I had written several years ago, so that content is still serving me today.
  3. I would have found a balance between creating content around “my voice” and “guest voices.” It hasn’t been until this most recent year that I’ve seen the real value in balancing my own voice with those of people who share similar views and goals. Each of us has something unique to offer in the way of creating content: Our voices (our unique way of putting things and relating to others), as well as our unique blend of experiences and expertise. By bringing other voices to the table, you have greater depth and more to offer. You also get the added benefit of a connection with the other expert, which has so much potential — joint ventures, partnerships, referral relationships, extra promotion, cheerleaders for your business, and much more.
  4. I would have set some boundaries for myself and my business. I would have decided from the very beginning where I was going to draw the line with clients and other service providers so that I didn’t set myself up to be taken advantage of and to be a doormat. Knowing what I know now and knowing how this can actually equate to greater success and more opportunities, I would have been less prone to take any and every job or client that came my way.
  5. I would have worried more about passion than profit (knowing now that the money will follow) Now I can see that when I’m connected to a bigger purpose for my life and business, things just begin falling into place and synchronizing, so if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t chase down opportunities strictly for financial reasons. I would be much more interested in following an intention for my business and allowing the money to follow.

The mistakes I’ve made over time have led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t change those things, but if I wanted to start a new business, I would apply the lessons I’ve learned so that I could save myself those missteps from earlier days.

If you had it to do over, what would you do differently in your business?  What lessons learned the hard way would you apply to a new business today?

Photo by Flickr user Corey Leopold, licensed under CC 2.0

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  1. Debbie Hemley Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Amber,

    Just wanted to comment that it’s so nice to read your statement, “Every single contact and client who has found me over the past few years has done so through content I’ve created online.”

    As someone who blogs weekly, it is refreshing and encouraging to know that people have valued your online content and that it’s been a contributing factor to how they’ve found you.

    So with that, I guess I’ll get back to writing!

    Best,
    Debbie Hemley

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Debbie Hemley Thursday, June 3, 2010

      Thanks, Debbie. It’s completely true. It’s weird to think sometimes that I have very few clients from my home state. Most people find me online and from as far away as Scotland. Literally, I have a bigger influence in the Seattle market than I do in New Orleans, which is just across Lake Pontchartrain from me! I can attribute that 100% to the content I’ve created online. If I ever wanted to push my business into overdrive, I guess I could start marketing locally. :)

  2. Amber, these are all great lessons that every business can learn from. I especially like the last point. It’s the question every entrepreneur needs to answer are you just in it for the money or do you really believe in your product/service? Passion first profit second. Nice post.

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Mike Kypros Thursday, June 3, 2010

      Thanks, Mike. I think there are tons of examples of people who lead (and succeed) with passion. Unfortunately, especially in recent years, it’s also been easy to see examples of those who have been led strictly by profit. While I don’t want my pockets to be completely empty, I’d much rather my pockets than my soul. If that’s all I chased, I think that’s exactly what I’d achieve.

  3. Kara Stewart Thursday, June 3, 2010

    As someone just getting started myself, this post is like gold. You’ve confirmed some things my gut has been trying to tell me as I take my first steps. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Amber Singleton Riviere Kara Stewart Thursday, June 3, 2010

      Thanks, Kara! You made a great addition to the list.

      6 Follow your gut. If something feels off, don’t do it. Wait until you feel better about it or know why it feels wrong in the first place. You don’t have to know everything right out of the gate, but uncertainty and missing information are different than a bad feeling.

      Best of luck with your business!

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  5. thats good but now a days internet marketing business is most useful so if you interest to earn money easy way using internet just follow me.

  6. I can relate to a lot of this. 5 years in I’m just trying to transition from being a single consultant to running a small agency.

    I really hate the hourly rate model. It just doesn’t work but some clients still try and insist on it.

    I guess the best lesson I’ve learned is that it’s okay to say “no” to some clients. To spot the jobs that will just sap your energy and aren’t worth the money.

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