It is truly surreal to realize that I was called to start Carolina Business Connections, LLC 10 years ago this month (DBA Close HR Connections, Sept. 9, 2009). It has truly been an adventure from day one but I thank God for this opportunity and the lessons I have learned along the way and continue to learn each and every day.
As I reflect on the past decade, it’s hard to narrow down all the mindful lessons I’ve learned during this time. However, in honor of my first decade in business, the following are 10 of my top takeaways (in no particular order).
- It is not all about me. It is about the people. In short, I (we) should strive to be a blessing to others, and in doing so, we will find ourselves blessed in return.
- Kindness, dignity, and respect are non-negotiables and should be a part of every conversation, email, meeting, connection that we have with everyone. it is a small world and we are likely to cross paths again with those we have contact with, so we should take the high road and not burn our bridges.
- Know who you are and be true to yourself. In other words, stay in your lane. Do what you do to your very best and identify other professionals who have the skills and experience you do not, and graciously connect your clients with them in times of need.
- Define a set of core values that will be your anchor during good times and difficult times. Don’t compromise your core values. Ever. Stand firm and be known for your integrity and character and you will do well.
- Don’t be afraid to hire smart people. Bring A+ talent into your organization that is the right person in the right seat at the right time, and lead them well. You, your business, and those you hire will go far.
- Be generous with your time and talent because it truly does take a village. There is no doubt that being a business owner is not for the faint of heart and you cannot do it (successfully) on your own. Be humble and wise enough to ask for help and in turn, be willing to extend that same help others.
- Outsource key functions of your own business that are not your strengths. As a business owner just starting out, you will, by necessity, need to wear multiple hats as you attend to your business needs, but identify early on the hats you need expert help with and outsource as soon as feasible.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and own up to them—nobodyis perfect. Clients understand mistakes will be made but not owning up to them damages your integrity and reputation. And that’s too high a price to pay for your pride. So take responsibility for the mistakes you make and don’t make excuses or try to hide them.
- If the prospect, deal, or situation compromises your core values, walk away. Not every prospect will be a good client and not every project will be the best use of your investment. Don’t be afraid to walk away from an opportunity, especially if you have to compromise your core values. That goes for the necessity of sometimes firing a client. You will be better off pursuing higher quality opportunities.
- Do your best every day and don’t give up. There will be days you’re weary and beaten down, but you can’t give up because tomorrow will come and bring with it new, exciting opportunities for you.
Starting out as a new business owner in 2009, I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into. I knew I had a lot to learn, but I really had no idea just how much. These are only 10 of the many lessons I’ve learned over the past 10 years, all of them teaching me that I’ll continue to be a lifelong learner as a business owner/entrepreneur.
Close HR Connections is looking forward to the next decade of serving more business owners and entrepreneurs as we continue to provide consummate people management counsel, advice, support, coaching, and encouragement for businesses and organizations. And to all who have been a part of our decade-long journey thus far—thank you! And here’s to the next 10 years!