As I reflect back on the past year, I realize I have learned a lot -- some of it the hard way, other lessons were a pleasant surprise, but like everything in life, you have to take the bad with the good, and the key is to learn the lesson and move on.
1. My attitude makes a difference as to how well I do
I started the year in a funk, not feeling well and fed up with myself, with being sick and if I am honest, with running my business. I had got myself into martyr mode, feeling people were not valuing my efforts.
Fast forward 10 months and it is a different picture, I am well, feeling positive and the outlook is too. Your attitude does determine your altitude.
2. Know when to quit
Our magazine Company was my pet project but with the changing economy it became harder and harder to recruit advertisers. I hung on too long but eventually sanity prevailed, and our last issue came out in January, 2012.
The writing had been on the wall for months, but I refused to see it, just pouring more and more of my own money in to keep it afloat. So learn from my mistakes, know when to cut your losses, and stop.
3. Change is good
With being the only one in the office, I knew I could not do it all.So I reviewed the processes we had in place and determined some were no longer necessary. Without that impetus to make changes, it would have been too easy to stay stuck in the same old routines.
4. Automation saves you time and energy
We automated much of the registration process behind the scenes and not only has it saved us time, it's accurate and gives little room for human error.
5. Don't get complacent
Even when you have a good thing going, always look at different ways to package and deliver your products and services. This year, recognizing women are time-stretched, we changed up our programming to offer online programs and fewer evening events and so far, the feedback has been positive.
6. Be nimble
When one of my members shared that she was starting an online book club (different target group) I immediately saw the value for Company of Women, and within days launched the program.
7. Collaboration is better than competition
Partnering up with other women's business organizations gives us strength and we can support and learn from one another. The key is to make it a win-win for all involved.
8. Build a team -- It's not all about you
In order for a business to survive beyond its founder, there needs to be a team that works together. So I have been developing and delegating to a team of contractors who share my interest in helping women in business. The bonus is you don't feel so alone in what you are doing.
9. Connect with your peers
Get out of the office. It was my participation in the W100 conference that helped restore my confidence in my ability to lead this organization, as I met with entrepreneurial women I respect and who in turn had respect for what I do. We all need this pat on the back that we are on the right track and doing a good job.
10. Sometimes people will disappoint you
It is hard when people disappoint you and behave in a way that causes you to stop and question your relationship with them. In trying to understand the why, I have come to recognize that sometimes it is past hurts that create these knee-jerk reactions.
11. Celebrate your successes
In September we celebrated our 10th birthday, and produced a video giving the highlights of the past nine years. It made me realize how far we have come and that we need to celebrate each success, no matter how small.
12. Last but not least, have a life beyond your business
Work will always be there but to lead a fulfilling life, we need to broaden our interests, volunteer, give back and spend time with the friends and family that matter to us.