Understanding what I needed to be and what I needed to get back…
I parted ways with the law firm I was working for, continued my law studies, and started my own business. Now everyone says, “do what you love, and love what you do.” I took that to heart, but with some caution. Being from a family of small business owners, I knew there would be more to success than just doing what I loved to do. So, I did a lot of soul-searching until I realized that my main goal in life has always been to help others- by giving them tools to improve their lives and businesses, and empowering them for success. It’s even the reason I went to law school in the first place. It wasn’t long into the soul-searching before Eric and I realized that I actually already had a business. I didn’t know it, or maybe I just didn’t realize it, but people had been coming to me with random requests my whole life. People even started to joke with my parents that “everyone needs an Ashley in their life.” Maybe it was my willingness to do anything, or my connections, or skillsets. No matter what it was, the bottom line was that people were coming to me and wanting me to be their resource. And, even without calling it a business, I had grown a pretty decent following and always took things pretty seriously. While I could have had an “I-do-it-all” business, I knew that I wanted a core philosophy and set of services. It was the next little bit of time that we’d spend refining that desire.
I took the leap of faith and started my own business…
After some good brainstorming sessions and more than a few heart-to-hearts between me and Eric, I started DBL Designs with services focused on organization and efficiency. Some thought it was too broad of a concept, but I knew that I wanted to keep our services broad to make sure and appropriately accommodate all of the “random” requests that I received. Over the last year and a half, I have honed and fine-tuned the official business. I’ve taken it from a favors/small jobs for family, friends, and friends of friends to a full-fledged business. I’ve done it with very little financial investment and simply used the income the business took in to reinvest into more and greater opportunities. Now, just a year and a half after starting the business, I’m proud to have two employees in addition to myself, and we’ll be looking to hire again in the new year. We’ve also rebranded. DBL Designs was a name that grew out of the blog name “Design Build Love,” but our services quickly outgrew that name. As of November 2013, we are officially Ashley Meyer Consulting. The change made sense and has been really well received. And since I built the business on my name and reputation, it only made sense to include it.
Lessons I’ve learned…
While I’d like to say that owning my own business has been nothing but roses and butterflies, it hasn’t. And, even though I come from a family of business owners and have worked for many small businesses, there is simply only so much your can learn before you take the leap yourself. That said, there are a few lessons/beliefs that I thought I’d share to hopefully make someone else’s path a little easier.
- Educate yourself! The most important thing you can do is to educate yourself about the business you want to start, or the industry your going into. After growing up in small businesses, working in a variety of industries, and earning a law degree, I was confident in the path I set out on. That said, without those experiences, I would have been severely under-prepared. Even with all of my experience, I am constantly looking for additional ways to educate myself- through online classes, discussion forums, and social media. My best suggestion is not to let a lack of education or experience hold you back, fill the void in any way you can!
- Changing “jobs” is hard. Changing from a job to owning a business is even harder. Make sure that your personality is a good fit for business ownership. It’s not all fun and games, and at the end of the day, everything rests on your shoulders.
- Network, network, network. Know your network. This is different than your social circle. These are the people that can be your resources, that you can refer to, and that will support your business.
- Write a business & marketing plan and then post it in front of you so that you know you are always making decisions in line with that plan. Once you pull a business license, people will call selling you anything and everything!
- Do a SWOT analysis of yourself and the business. Don’t know what that is? Look it up. It’s important!
- Memorize that “elevator speech” and then practice it constantly. Know your business inside and out! It really pays to know your business and be able to answer all questions. When you exude confidence, people trust you more. It’s that simple.
- Set business hours. You’ll thank me for this one and so will your family and friends. It’s easy when you’re just starting out to work 24/7 because you never want to miss a potential opportunity for business and income. Sometimes, that opportunity is worth missing. If you let your business control your time, it will control your life. And after all, who becomes a business owner to have a business that controls their life!
- Get out of your comfort zone. This was probably the hardest thing for me. I’m pretty good at what I do, but I hit a growth cap. We got consistently busy, but I still wanted to grow more. I wanted to get bigger by the end of the year. The reality is that I stopped pushing myself in new/different ways of doing things. I decided to take an amazing business class all about goal-setting and pushing yourself. For the first time in months, we’ve hit a few major milestones that I was missing and the growth is continuing!
If you’re thinking about switching careers, changing fields, or starting your own business, hopefully my little bit of info has helped! ANY QUESTIONS?
Please feel free to check out my website if you want to see what I’m doing now! www.AshleyMeyerConsulting.com
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