6 Things I Wish I Knew Starting Out

Allow me to save you the time & headache by sharing my top 6 things I wish I knew when I was starting out. I hope these tips are helpful in catapulting you closer to your goals!

1.Define Your Values & Stick With ‘Em!

If you have yet to read my “Life & Business Values” article, do it! Defining your values will be one of the best things you’ll ever do! It’s not too early or too late- do it right now. I learned this at a Disney institute seminar a few years ago & let me tell you, it’s had a huge impact on my success! Whether you write down & define your values or not you still have them, but defining them will make your life a million times easier. When you take the time to write down and define your values, you are making it clear what you stand for (and more importantly what you do not stand for).  Values are obvious in every action & decision we make. The more your values line up with the people you hire, the customers you serve, the vendors you partner with and the organizations you support, the easier & more successful you will be. Think about it, if one of your values is integrity and you’re working or spending time with someone (an employee, a vendor, a friend or a partner) who does not share that value & their fav motto is “what they don’t know won’t hurt ’em”, think about all the conflict you’ll run into! You’ll never be on the same page, in fact you’ll be spinning your wheels wondering why on earth they’re making the decisions they are.

So, define them & stick with them. You’ll run into plenty of people, employees, customers, vendors, organizations etc who do not share your values, but also, plenty who do! Choose the ones who do & kindly dismiss the ones who don’t.

Let your values be your guiding compass in all your decision making, they will not lead you astray!

2. People Will Love You {& People Will Not}

This applies to life. business. and everything you’ll ever do. People will love you, what you stand for & what you have to offer the world!

But also, they will hate you, what you stand for & what you have to offer the world.

I know, it’s insane because you’re a kind & genuine person who cares about the greater good, babies, dogs & world peace- who on earth can hate on that?

The answer: Someone, somewhere, who hates happy people, the bright & cheery color yellow, watching people succeed & has deep rooted issues {and takes them out on you}. It’s the truth & it stings as much as it did when you were in 1st grade and Valerie didn’t share her crayons with you.

Just know, no matter how hard you work, how good you are, how much you contribute to society, there’s always ‘those’ people who don’t care & don’t like you. Don’t spend your valuable time & precious energy trying to convert them. after all, they clearly don’t share your values. I know this is a tough one, but the more awesome & successful you become, the more intensely you’ll be loved {and hated}.

Shift your energy to focus on the people who matter & hasta la vista, Auf Wiedersehen, Au revoir- to the ones who don’t!

3. “No.” Is A Complete Sentence

Ok, you can add a “Thank You” to the end of that to make yourself feel better: “No. Thank You.”

You’re allowed to say no to whatever you want. Period. Stop feeling guilty about it, you can’t do everything that anyone asks of you! Certainly not without compromising your own well being {which is never ever worth it by the way}. I had to learn this the hard way- many late nights trying to it in last minute orders that I felt obligated to accept, struggling to try complete designs based on elaborate pictures customers would send with a budget of $50, saying yes to more donations than we could handle/afford at that time & family/friends wanting me to attend their event after a 16 hour day in the kitchen.

You can say no {or yes} to whatever you want, but do not {under any circumstances} feel the need to explain yourself or feel guilty about your decision. The only thing you “owe the world” is to take care of yourself so you can keep sharing your talents with it.

Also, you do not need an ‘excuse’ to accompany your answer. The reason “why” you say no is irrelevant & just because you “could” squeeze it in doesn’t mean you “have to”. if you simply don’t feel passionate about that cake design or you just want to skip the party to stay in and watch tv- COOL! Do that!

4. Ask For Some Darn Help!

You do not need to be the one and only person doing any & everything. YES, you have to wear a lot of hats when you’re just starting out but, NO they don’t need to be worn all at the same time. The concept is just as ridiculous as the image that popped into your head of you wearing 25 freakin’ hats!

I am Rebecca & I am a recovering perfectionist.

I thought for SURE I had to do everything at ALL times or else! Or else what? or else I would have more free time? or else I might be happier? I literally don’t even know what my “or else” was.

The first place I went to for help was The Small Business Center (I’m pretty sure most cities have them & they’re mostly free). The second was I hired a book keeper. The third was an accountant (notice the trend of hiring people to deal with numbers? You can bet I’m not a numbers gal).

Find or hire help to take care of things that aren’t your strength so you can do what you do best- better!

If you financially can’t do that right now, ask your family & friends! Pay them in love & cupcakes. You’ll be surprised at how much help you have standing right in front of you.

5. Time Management

Why oh why do they not teach this in school? {you’ll ind I say this a lot}. Managing your time effectively is everything when running a business {or a house hold for that matter}.

It doesn’t have to be a huge complicated thing. Get a timer, time yourself completing a task- let’s say decorating a 2 tier cake, write down your time. Keep a list of your tasks & times & next time you book another 2 tier cake, you’ll know how much time it will take. This gets more important the busier you get so it’s best to start practicing this now!

Get a planner, or use your phone to plan your day or week based on how long the tasks take. This allows you to be in full control of how many hours you work & when you hit the point of being fully booked. You need to know this stuff! I learned this the hard way, because I was stuck in the ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ mindset {which has since shifted to ‘Work Smarter-Not Harder’} I would book so many orders with no concept of how long they would take and BOOM 16 hour day, 12 hour day, even pulled a few all-nighters. NOT recommended.

Figure out your time. Schedule your time. Be generous with your time & my gosh, don’t forget to take a freakin’ break!

6. Work Smarter, Not Harder

I was the guiltiest of all guilty for my “Work Hard, Play Hard” mindset. I believed that quote to my core & posted it, tweeted it, pinned it- you name it! Thank God, I don’t have it tattooed. This is an amateur quote to live by. My new {and MUCH more improved motto} is: “Work Smarter, Not Harder”.

You can literally be working your butt off, and getting nothing done. I know, it sounds crazy. But actually, think about all the tasks you do throughout the day. Is there a better, more efficient way of completing those tasks? Do those tasks even matter? It might seem counterproductive to spend more time by analyzing your tasks and figuring out better ways to complete them {and it will cost you more time upfront} but the benefits long term are substantial.

Here’s an example: We used to take orders on paper, and then we’d have to re-enter them into our ordering system manually.

By identifying the re-work involved, we found an app where you can just take the order right on a tablet & it goes automatically into the ordering system. We were spending double the amount of time on one task. Now it takes half the amount of time.I have done this in so many areas of the business & it’s been a life saver! I have so much more time to spend on areas I actually enjoy {and believe me, re-typing orders into a system isn’t one of them!}

Cut out anything you do that doesn’t really matter & look at areas that take a lot of time & learn to work smarter, NOT harder!

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