Years ago I read a book in which the main characters got married on Thanksgiving. They reasoned that it would be easy to remember their anniversary that way; they would simply toast themselves over Thanksgiving dinner, and not worry over the specific date. Over the years, I’ve used this method of benchmarking life events when the specific date isn’t necessary. It frees my brain to remember other things. For example, I graduated from college the day before Mother’s Day, and I need to renew my driver’s license during presidential election years.
And ten years ago, on the third Thursday of March, I attended my first meeting of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). I had been researching and considering this field, and the next step was to spend an evening with the pros in the greater Philadelphia region. The chapter warmly welcomed me, even applauding me when I shared that the following day would be my last at a corporate job.
Like any entrepreneur, I’ve had a wild assortment of bumps and successes along the way. Here are a few things I wish I’d believed the first time my business tried to teach me:
Make mistakes. Inactivity will kill a business, which means that the inertia of perfectionism is a death sentence. Keep moving. The faster you make mistakes, the faster you learn, and the faster you’ll be on to something better. I still struggle with this every single day. The next time I’ll have to overcome fear of making a public mistake? At the end of this article when I post it for you to read. This is a daily challenge for any entrepreneur who values delivering quality. Which is approximately 100% of us.
Hire the talent you lack. We’re all great at some things, and we all celebrate learning new skills. But sometimes the additional time to master a new discipline just distracts us from our calling. I’ve hired an accountant, graphic designer, and a photographer. I even hired one of my organizing colleagues when my business went through a growth spurt and I knew she’d be able to spot my inefficiencies faster than I could. Each time, the investment saved me far more than it cost.
Take the long view. Short term challenges and investments often yeild long term benefits. Five years ago I put my business on hold when my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I did virtually no marketing, and resigned myself to accept the inevitable decline in business. But something unexpected happened. Clients continued to trickle in, some of them even putting considerable effort into getting my attention at that challenging time. The end result was fewer clients on my roster, but they were committed, long-lasting, and a joy to work with. That experience still helps me keep perspective during slow times, and focus on the longer arc of my business.
There are different dates that others may consider my business anniversary, but on my calendar my career and my life changed course on the third Thursday of March, 2005. Thank you for supporting me in my first decade as the Lehigh Valley’s green professional organizer.