10 Lessons Learned After 2 Years In Business
Office Hours With Dr. Lacy
The following podcast episode was taken from an Instagram Live recording. Follow me at @marvettelacy to see future Live videos!
Transcript of Episode:
Hello, this is Marvette your dissertation strategist. I help you write your dissertation successfully defend it so you can graduate and become a doctor. I'm a little bit rusty cause I feel like I haven't done a live in a while. So I'm just gonna pin this comment here. Today I wanted to talk about the 10 lessons I've learned since being in business for two years and I wanted to share just a little bit about my story because I don't really talk much about it. I am also procrastinating a little bit right now as I'm supposed to be doing other things, but I thought I would do two things at once since I have missed a lot from the past week or so and I need to record a podcast episode. So I want to do both. But I, let's see, my story really starts three years ago, so my business anniversary will be on September seven.
Because September 7th, 2017 is when I had my first paying client. And that is a day I'm choosing to say as my anniversary because although I do like all the backend stuff and put in the paperwork to have a legal business, I didn't have a client until September seven, which I'll tell you more about my story. In a lot of people will say like, they started a business, but until you are actually making money and you have a client or a customer, then you do not have a business. You have a very expensive hobby probably. So anyway, my story actually happens or it takes place three years ago, 2016 in the fall of 2016 when I first decided that I was going to get serious about starting my own business, I was supposed to be, you know, progressing through. I was in my phd program and I think at that point, yeah, I was actually working on my dissertation.
And if you are in the dissertation phase and you know, you get all of the ideas, you think about all the other things that you can't do or you should be doing instead of writing your dissertation because you don't want to write it. And so that happened with me and I was like, you know, I wanna start my own business because if I start now and then I give myself a whole year, then by the time I'm ready to graduate I'll have a job. Cause in my mind it was only going to take less than a year and I was going to have this very booming business that I didn't need to go find a job and everything will take care of itself. So this is like September ish of 2016. There was someone named Happy Black Woman is her business, her handle all of that. She was promoting that she was doing her annual course, which helps women to launch their business pretty much walking you through all the steps you would need to have a business.
And so I decided to take some money and sign up for it. And it was not cheap. Okay. It was not cheap. I don't, I can't quite remember, but I just know it was not, it was four figures anyway, so I signed up for it cause I was like, yes, I want you to tell me exactly what to do and I'm going to do that. So I signed up for the course. I did all of that. So it had to think about like exactly what your business was going to be. And at the time my business was focused on helping women who were currently in toxic relationships as a result of past sexual abuse. Now I'm sure as you hear that, you can understand why that didn't quite work out so well. Also, it didn't work out well because it's like, how can I help someone when I was in a situation myself, I do my own work and as similar to students who come into qualitative research, they're usually choosing topics that are very personal to them.
And it's like, research is me search. You're trying to figure out your own stuff until you decide you're going to do a research project, but then that just opens up a big can of worms. And that, that wasn't working. So that business idea didn't work. But I decided that I was going to keep going with helping women get out of toxic relationships. So that was my first business. I'm looking at my notes by the way. And I did that. I did that all for fall 16, but I didn't get any clients. Right. And so then spring of 2017 came when I was really supposed to be writing my dissertation and I decided that I was going to work with a different coach because I did technically launch my business. Like I had the business license and all of that. I just didn't have any clients.
Right. and so I was like, well, I'm going to go find another business coach who will help get the clients. And so I signed up with her and she, you know, she had some good ideas. It was just like a lot of information being thrown at me and I was very nervous to do the things that she was suggesting. So, which is pretty much not putting myself out there. So like actually tell people on Facebook that I have a business, actually ask people for sales, actually do sales calls. And it was just a lot. But working with her, I would say the, the, the best thing that came out of that was helping me to see that my first business topic was not going to work out. And she was actually the one that suggested that I help people with qualitative research, which then later became helping people write their dissertation.
But at first it was just going to be explaining qualitative research to people like a, like a class that you could take. And so I did that. And so this was early spring 2017. And that was one of the other things, I became more consistent with writing blog posts. And I was, I was telling people like on Facebook and stuff and doing some calls. But it just wasn't working out and, but I kept going. I graduated and that took precedent because if you know anything about my story, I needed to do my dissertation in four months. And so I did that. I graduated, felt like I went through like a hurricane or something. I was just all over the place in that summer of 17. And then I moved from Georgia to Wisconsin, started a new job and then I was like, alright, I'm getting serious about this whole business thing.
And if you listen to my podcast of like two weeks ago, I talked to you about how I would go to my nine to five. Like I would work before my nine to five for like two hours. I would go to my nine to five. And then after my nine to five, I would work another five or six hours at Starbucks. And then Saturdays and Sundays I spent all day, like from 9:00 AM to like they close 9:00 PM at Starbucks, Saturday and Sunday to work on my business. And again, while I was putting out all this content, I wasn't making any money and September, Labor Day was coming, rolling around and I decided, you know what, I'm just gonna write this random email and see what happens. So my dad's birthday is September 4th. The holiday is usually around that time. And fall is my favorite season.
And usually people think about Labor Day as the end of summer and beginning of fall. So I wrote this random email that was like in celebration of my favorite season, I'll give you 40% off. Whew. You know, the journey is, I know the journey to the pricing thing has been one. But yeah, that's what I said. I'll give you 40% off of my price, which was only a hundred dollars at that time, but I'll give you 40% off and you can sign up with me for, I think it was like 12 weeks of coaching and one person did sign up with me and to help her finish her chapters four and five, she had did data collection, but she, she was really highly motivated. Like she had a plan and knew what she wanted to do. But because her program didn't have many or any qualitative researchers, she was looking for someone to help her really craft the end of the dissertation and wrap it all up.
And so we met all through that fall and working with her to finish. And she did graduate. That was great. But I share that story to say like one that is my story. It as the beginning of how I started and got my first paying client. But I also remember like that whole year, the, the one main thought that kept going through my mind is I, I just wish I could get one client. Like, if I could get one client and I know that this is real good, I know I can do this. That was my mindset. Looks like if I could just get this one person, then I know that like, I can be successful at this. And I got that one person and that did give me courage and I started to, you know, build up and get more clients. But I just think that's interesting now two years later looking back, it's like, Oh, if only I knew.
So I do want to talk about like lessons I learned. So based off of that, the number one is being like, I'm just beginning. Like the journey is just starting and that can relate to the like the doctoral process is because you like get into the program, right? And everybody wants to rush through courses cause they're like, okay, I've done this before. I just need to take these classes and get took dissertation. Cause once I do that and I graduate and they call me doctor, that's it. But then you quickly learn that once you defend your dissertation and you're graduating, you realize that's just the beginning. Especially if you're going to be in academia where you like go out and if you're going to continue writing and researching, you realize that dissertation, while they seem huge at the time, really wasn't even the tip of the iceberg.
And there was a whole journey and it could be a wonderful journey if you allow it to be, you just realize that it's just the beginning. So that was the first thing and that I can see my future so clearly now, like I can see how like I can see how successful I'm going to be. The second thing is that based off of that is fear will always be there as you are growing. Like fear never goes away. You're gonna always be nervous. It's it can help you as cliche as that sounds, but fear, fear will be something that you come to expect. Especially if we continue to push yourself into grow, it will always be there. So that's number two. Number three, the more aware you become of who you are, your mindset or the things that you have to do, the more you will want to hide, the more you want to run away and hide from what you know you should be doing.
So, even though it's been two years from me and I was, you know, before like I don't want to put myself out there, I still like sometimes have to navigate that cause even now like doing this live, I had to like talk myself up because I still get nervous going live and talking and all of that. But I would say it's not as it once was because I've done this before. I'm getting more comfortable with it. It's just, it's just a part of the process. So that's number three. And number four, you do not need a lot of money to start a business. You don't need a logo. Stop it with the logo, stop it with, I need to make my website pretty. You don't need to do that. Stop it. You don't need it. And you just need to start really, really like simple things.
You need to know who you're helping, what you're helping them with. And then you need to tell them and talk with them. People underestimate the power of building connections with people, like talking to them, getting to know more about them. We can only think about like what it is that you want. And this happens in the dissertation process too is like when you get into data collection, a lot of students, we spend a lot of time and I tell them like, this isn't about you. People are sharing with you their good time, their good experiences. They're taking time out of their lives to like sit down with you for hours to do interviews. And you are not even thinking about them. All you're thinking about is when you're going to finish your dissertation and how you're going to publish, but you don't take time to think about like how do you compensate people for their labor, for their time, for them sharing with you.
So that was also another siren. But yes, for your business, you don't need all this money and these fancy websites and logos and colors. You're wasting your time and it's easy for you to think about those things because you feel like you know how to do that. But it's more difficult to actually go and help someone and get a client. And that's what you know I was struggling with too, is that I was scared to put myself out there and I let that fear stop me from actually making money on my business. So that was Four number Five is consistency and discipline is key. You can have the most talent in the room. There can be people who seem like they got it all together, whatever. But people like out the people can't outwork you or I would say people can't outwork me as my attitude that I have.
So I'm going to continue to show up and be consistent and be disciplined in learning my craft. Because I know that hard work outperforms talent at the end of the day. I said that really clunky, but I think you get what I'm saying. The next is that people are always watching even when you don't know that they are. So sometimes people get caught up in like the number of followers they have or the number of likes they get on something or even like the number of clients that you have. And sometimes it can seem like no one is paying attention. You can feel like, why am I doing this? This doesn't make any sense. But I always get a message or DM or someone will say something in passing to be like, please keep going. Thank you so much for what you've been doing has been really encouraging and motivating.
And so people may not say that when the actual posts or whatever you're putting out there, but someone is always watching. And to remember that because you don't know what role you are planning on someone's life, you don't know how much you may be helping someone. And not everyone is going to feed your ego all the time cause that's really was happening when you were looking at likes numbers and clients and the money and all of that. It's your ego. But if you are committed to helping people, then stay focused on that. Instead of thinking about vanity metrics of likes and numbers and when that, the next is keep the simple interest start. I may have said this before, but just what is the easiest thing or the easiest next step you can take and then take it? Whenever I get too caught up in my head or overwhelmed, I just asked myself, what is the next thing that you can do and just do that.
And that's what I do. And I tell clients all the time that the motivation in a way that we've been taught about it as a society, as a lie, as not, it's not not that it's not a thing, but like it's not gonna sustain you. Momentum will sustain you. So if you can continue to take little small steps and keep going, that will continue to build up and keep you pushing longer and further than you know, you getting, you go and get an all hyped up from somebody and think that's motivation. You can only go as far as your mindset. So if you are not continuing to work on your mind and your thoughts, then you will not be able to continue to progress further. Which is where like all the, the fears and the doubts and all of that, that's a result of how you're thinking about yourself, Your Business, your dissertation or whatever it is that you're doing.
And if you don't have a mechanism in place to really examine your thoughts or be able to start to shift them over time that goes back to like understanding what it is that you want who you want to be and having a a way to like manage that. And that's really why I believe that I had such a hard time with like anxiety and depression. Not to say that it's completely gone, but that's, I think it compounded it I guess. Because I didn't have something in place to help me navigate with that, which then leads to my next one, which I don't know what number I'm on, so we're just gonna go with it. The next thing I would say is that you have to have faith in something bigger than yourself, even if you don't believe in God per se or no, not Christian or whatever.
Having some sort of faith or belief system or this universe, whatever, Buddhism, whatever, that is, having something bigger than you to believe in because there's going to come to a point where you're just going to have to let go and just believe that it's gonna happen. But if you don't have something to anchor yourself, it causes a whole other host of challenges and problems. And then the last thing is to get help because nobody can do it alone. Even people you think are doing it, they, they appear to doing it alone. They're not, they have a team behind them. There's always usually like a person that's like a silent partner that you may not be able to see or they have a community of folks that just helps them. But you cannot do this by yourself as humans. We are not meant to be by ourselves.
And so whatever you have to do, whatever community you have to join, that's going to help you and you will see so much growth and I'm getting distracted cause I'm guessing my job has been announced. So I'm going to go see if it has. But yeah, I wanted to share. Those are the lessons that I've learned. I've been in business for two years. It'll be two years on September 7th. And I'm so excited about what the journey has been and what it will be, and I'm happy to share it with you all. So I be curious to know if any of these lessons resonated with you, anything that you taken from this live, please let me know. DM me, whenever you're watching on the replay and I'm going to do and go, go and do actual work now because I'm supposed to be working. But thank you for watching and I will talk to you later. Do something to show yourself some love. Until next time. Bye for now.