Lessons from My First Full Year as a Business Owner


It's crazy for me to realize that I launched the Tinlun online store a full year ago. January 2016 was nerve-racking as I flipped the switch from "getting ready" to "open for business," and with the arrival of 2017, I can honestly say that Year One flew by in a blink.

A lot happened in 2016 and I learned a ton about running a business, being a dad and husband, and being a human.

The following is an informal brain dump of every lesson I learned in 2016.

  • Stop waiting. Come up with a rough plan with quick, attainable checkpoints that lead to your goal and GO GET IT.
  • Perfection is paralyzing. Not everything has to be perfect from the get-go. Don’t wait for the best equipment, the perfect situation, or the flawless execution before you move forward with something. Just start. You can improve things along the way.
  • Staying the course is an ongoing battle. There will be forces that want to pull you away from your goal or make you lose sight of the person you strive to be. Constant vigilance is needed to keep you on track.
  • People will test your patience. They’ll try to take credit for your work. Most of the time, these are battles not worth fighting. Just let it go and move on.
  • Where you're most afraid is where you'll provide the most powerful value to the world. - Scotty Russell
  • Time away from work is just as important as time put into work. You need time to recharge and live real life. And don’t neglect your family and friends; these people are your support system and they'll get you through tough times.
  • You will make mistakes. Quite a few of them. It’s part of the process. Try not to sweat it; take away the lesson(s) and move on.
  • Go to conferences and talk to people. Establishing meaningful in-person connections with like-minded people is invaluable not just for your business, but also for moral support. Just knowing there are others who “get it” is revitalizing and confidence-boosting.
  • Form a mastermind group. This is a group of people who think like you and have the same work ethic as you do. Establish a weekly video conference and push each other to be better. Hold each other accountable. Meet in-person at least once a year to dive deeper into each other's goals and strategies to gain greater clarity in your direction (seeing and hanging out with each other at a conference doesn’t count).
  • Learn how to receive and accept critique from those you respect. It’s easy to be defensive when your methods are questioned, but your peers are looking out for you and want you to succeed. Truly evaluate and consider the advice you’re given.
  • You aren’t sharing enough. Write more, document more, and share more. You might think everyone knows what your business is currently working on, but they don’t. People have way too much going on in their own lives to regularly keep up with you. Staying in the minds of your audience is of utmost importance.
  • Your email newsletter is your business’ best friend. Don’t neglect it. Make it your top priority and learn how to integrate it with what you do. Your active email subscribers are your most loyal supporters.
  • People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it. - Simon Sinek
  • Go with your gut. If you feel weird about working with someone or taking a particular project, don’t do it. Having zero regrets about what you’re working on is mental clarity that will help you produce your best work.
  • Turn down projects and requests that don’t bring you closer to meeting or maintaining your goals. Evaluate the time commitment required for such requests and compare it to the value of what else you could be doing with that time.
  • Help people who take time to write a proper introduction and ask you for advice. A genuine person who respects what you do will take the time to write a proper introduction and elaborate on what they want advice about. A selfish person who just wants to get something out of you will write a single sentence - sometimes in the form of a demand. I've actually had someone message me with, "tell me who does your hats." 😐
  • Be a connector. If you know two people who could possibly work well together, make the connection. If you’re friends with someone whom another friend looks up to, arrange an introduction. The resulting experience could be life-changing for everyone.
  • People don’t notice announcements; they notice consistency. - Sean McCabe
  • Packing orders takes a lot longer than you think. You're going to need help with this if you want to maintain focus.
  • Keep all of your business-related receipts from purchases in a folder or envelope. This will make things much easier during tax season, and your wallet will thank you.
  • Never stop appreciating the people who have helped and supported you along the way. These people are your ambassadors. Continually let them know that you haven’t forgotten about them.
  • 1.5% of your audience will actually buy something. I was shocked to hear this statistic when I first started, but I can now verify that it’s absolutely true.
  • Grit will be the quality that dictates your success. - Angela Duckworth
  • Attention to detail will set you apart from the crowd of people who are doing the same thing you're doing.
  • A change of scenery can do wonders for bringing you out of the downest of dumps and the blockiest of creative blocks. Put yourself in a completely new situation and experience something new. The sense of accomplishment and newly gained perspectives will refresh your outlook.

Wow, you made it all the way through the entire list - thank you so much for reading! Here's a secret 20%-off coupon code just for you: YEAR1LESSONS

I hope some of this has been helpful to you. If you have questions about anything or would just like to chat about something, feel free to shoot me a message!

Happy 2017; LET'S GET IT!