What I Learned in 2017

Never burn a bridge

I have reconnected with so many people over the last year including former colleagues, partners, and friends who I haven’t seen for years. Although it took a couple of follow-up emails for some people, I didn’t find anyone who wasn’t willing to connect and everyone I talked to gave the most amazing advice and support. Several of these amazing people have also referred me to clients, brought me in on their projects, and even passed on entire projects to me. Make sure to cultivate your relationships and keep up with your network. You never know when you may need to reach out for advice, a recommendation, or an introduction. Likewise, I never turn down a request for a chat with anyone who reaches out to me in an effort to pay it forward.

Outsource expertise strategically

When you are self-employed it is common to try to do everything yourself. Especially when you are just starting out, margins are tight and it can feel scary to invest in expertise. Finding the right experts is crucial to success and making life manageable. Something that may take you hours of Googling, reading, and making mistakes would probably take an expert 15 minutes. Your time is valuable; spend it on the things you are good at. At the same time, make sure to invest in expertise that is high leverage for your goals. For example, I invested in a great accountant who saves me tons of time, money, and anxiety by managing my taxes monthly. On the flip side, I didn’t invest in a graphic designer to make my logo or business cards. At this point a professional logo didn’t feel like the thing that was going to push my business forward, but that might change in the future.

When in doubt, ask

Like I mentioned above, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to figure everything out yourself. I have leaned on my network so many times over the last year to ask for advice, recommendations, and introductions. People have helped me think through contract structure and pricing, business development strategies, and how to best leverage partnerships. Partners have connected me to their partners, which has resulted in multiple contracts, other connections, and opportunities to work with amazing experts and refer those experts to my clients. So when in doubt, ask for help. Nine times out of ten you will find people with amazing insight that will help you think outside of the box, helping you save time and money.

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