They say you learn something new every day and that has certainly been true in my life since I became a small business owner, but the greatest lesson I've learnt so far has been patience. Every week I get lots of ideas about how I want to grow Stafford Media Solutions and in typical Gareth fashion I want it all to happen straight away.
When I first started the business I was told not to expect too much straight away and to give myself 2 or 3 years before deciding if it would be worthwhile, but occasionally I forget that. A few times I've wanted to just go find a regular job elsewhere because I haven't been willing to wait out the tough times. On the slow days I have to remind myself that what I am doing is for a purpose and even though everything may not be happening as fast as I would like, that's no reason to throw in the towel.
Even though I'm currently only engaged in the business two days a week and work has not been constant, I'm never bored. Some might think that I sit around all day and do nothing, but that's not the case. Because I am the sole operator of Stafford Media Solutions, I am responsible for every aspect of the business, including all the behind the scenes admin. If I'm not recording, then chances are I'm handling my social media strategies, invoicing, promoting, dealing with accounts and bookkeeping. The list is endless and there's always something to do.
Another important revelation I've had is that it's ok to say no sometimes. There have been times along the journey that I've almost bitten off more than I can chew as no is not a word that's often used by me. I've since learned that not every job is worthwhile, and sometimes the best thing you can do is to let it go. I thought I could handle what was asked of me, I soon realised I was better off without the stress of a complicated order that was a little outside of my capabilities.
Chasing the dollar is not as important as developing your brand, so don't be afraid of working for free at first. The majority of my media career recently has been built upon voluntary jobs for friends and charities, and has helped create an online profile that's continually expanding. I didn't think taking this route would lead me anywhere but it has. At the end of the day, you can work for money which won't last or you can focus your energies on developing a legacy and reputation of hard work, integrity and reliability.
Finally, don't be afraid to take risks. The biggest risk I took was actually starting the business itself but the second biggest risk I've taken is just getting out there in the business world and making myself known. I'm not a naturally outgoing person and networking doesn't come easy to me but I had to take the risk and do it anyway. You're not going to connect with everybody in every place you go, but if you can make 1-2 new connections a week, then slowly over time you'll have a core group of people who can provide business to you as well as referrals, testimonials, and encouragement. So step out of your comfort zone. You can't walk on water by sitting in the boat.