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Year 3: Lessons Learned in Running a Business

Kiley Peters

Entrepreneurship

Brainchild Studios turns three years old in September of 2019. I can't believe I'm officially the mama bear to a toddler. Oh, how time flies. For all those fellow entrepreneurs out there, getting to year three brings a lot of opportunities to pivot. I felt like year one was about survival, year two was about establishing some type of stability and year three has been about reinvesting back into the company and setting a foundation for it to grow.

This is what I learned in the third year of running my business.

  • Invest in your personal brand. By doing so, you open up so many doors for you, your business, and those in your network. I've been working on building my personal brand for the last 18 months by focusing on content creation. The next step is working on growing said network, but one thing at a time.
  • Set and align your goals. I realized that in order to appropriately grow Brainchild Studios, I needed to first confirm what I wanted to see for my career path and how to mold my company to serve that. Through this journey, I worked alongside Susan K. Wehrley to better align what I wanted for myself and how to manifest this in my professional choices. Highly recommended.
  • Delegate leadership responsibilities. I believe at the two/three-year mark, it's time to start reinvesting back in the business and that also means figuring out how to take 100% of the burden of leadership off of your shoulders and bring in trusted advisors and partners to help you effectively lead your team to success. I brought in a Business Operations Director and I can't express how necessary this was for my company. Not only is she better suited for certain tasks and endeavors than I am, but having that support system at a leadership level so you're not entirely alone--that's priceless.
  • Say no. Over-commitment is the devil and don't I know it. At the beginning of 2019, I said yes to becoming the President of 414digital (Milwaukee's association for digital marketers), an Adjunct Professor at Marquette University, a member of the 2019 TEMPO Emerging Women Leaders Cohort, a mentor at WWBIC and BizStarts, and a national speaker. I should have said no to something. Or maybe multiple things. I'm guilty of getting excited and wanting to dive in, but this year really kicked my ass. Be mindful of what you commit to and really ask if it truly aligns with and supports the vision you have for yourself and your company.
  • Find a mentor. This year I not only worked with a business coach, but I was also paired up with a mentor through TEMPO. She has been a saving grace and such an honest pillar of support. It's nice to have someone in your industry who has been in your shoes help to brainstorm new ideas and also tell you it's going to be ok when it feels like you've been sucker-punched in the gut.
  • Build scalable and profitable service offerings. One of my mantras this year has been "do more with less." So we've been working on creating scalable service offerings that offer value to our clients, but don't run us into the ground to deliver. These are new releases, so we're excited to see how these perform over the next few months!
  • Grant yourself permission to have balance. This pic is of me on my birthday indulging in a spa day for the first time in my life. It was amazing. I have been really intentional about balance over this past year. I've been focusing on setting goals that aren't directly related to my business to help create more space in my life and then I've given myself permission to indulge in them. I learned to golf this summer and, being in Wisconsin nice weather is a scarcity, so I allowed myself to take a Thursday or Friday afternoon off to enjoy being outside and not checking my phone for a few hours. And guess what? Everything was fine. I also found a lot of solace in kayaking and it realized that it was a great place for idea generation!
  • Set aggressive yet realistic financial goals. This was the first year we really set revenue and profit goals for Brainchild Studios and the crazy thing is that we met them! We took a hard look at our expenses and were able to cut out $800/month in unnecessary expenses. Taking a look at what we had billed in the previous two years, we had a little bit of data to work with to set 2019 goals and we had a really strong Q4, Q1, and Q2. However, the summer slump has been a bit more of a struggle this year than in previous, which leads me to my next point.
  • There's an opportunity cost to everything. This is probably my favorite concept from my microeconomics class. It's true. At the beginning of 2019, I was really focused on delivering for our existing clients but in doing so, I neglected to prepare for summer slump as much as I should have and learned a hard lesson about opportunity cost. If you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. Whether you realize it or not.
  • It's still all about people. As I've said in my previous year recaps, none of this would be possible without the people who believe in you, your vision, and the company you're building. Always take the time to say thank you, acknowledge all the blood, sweat, and tears the people around you shed, and never take them for granted. At the end of the day, if you haven't invested in the people who will have your back, you'll end up falling over when the wind gets too strong.

That being said, I owe so many people so many thank yous now and forever. Thank you to every mentor, client, community supporter, hug-giver, Instagram Post Liker, and blog post reader. And lastly, thank you to my Brainchildren. None of this would be possible without you.

Alrighty folks, we have a lot of exciting things on the horizon for the next year. We're fine-tuning our roll-out plan, but have no fear, it'll be a blast!

Kiley Owner & CEO, Brainchild Studios

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