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5 Things I've Learned Being In Business 5 Years

I have shirts, frozen pizzas, and wrinkles that are older than my company, but five years in business is not nothing. Evidently, 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years, so I’m a mixture of proud and relieved. How did I get here? By doing my plans B, C, and D first, and learning a lot of lessons along the way. 

In self-recognition of my 5th anniversary, today I focus on the key learnings that got me here.

1. Finding My Why Gave Me Purpose

I’ve written about this before, and what Ted-Talker, Simon Sinek said always bears repeating: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

My story had detailed my how behind starting my business: I wanted to be my own boss; others are doing it, and so could I; I’m an experienced writer; and I could get paid for my services and manage my own clients. 

The problem was that this didn’t help carve out my identity. After much introspection and coaxing from my business coach, I discovered my why: The reason why I do this is because whenever I see writing that needs help, I feel compelled to run to it and fix it. If there’s no writing to begin with, I feel compelled to start from scratch. 

This could have come in handy for Admiral Stockdale during the 1992 Vice Presidential debate when he opened with, “Who am I, and why am I here?”

2. Help Is In Plain Sight

I’m wired to do things the hard way. 

Not as in I’ll take on any challenge, but the faulty thinking that success and problem-solving can only be achieved if I figure it out all by myself. Talk about a fool’s errand. 

A seismic shift occurred when I stopped banging my head against the wall and realized:

  • I needed to work with a business coach, and she was right there in several of my networking groups.

  • Speaking of my network, I have friendships and relationships with some of the smartest, most innovative, creative, and magnanimous people in my backyard (and in my Google Contacts), who will always find time for me.

  • My wife is always happy to help. It doesn’t get any more in-plain-sight than your spouse who also works from home. While we’re two ships passing in the day--her office is upstairs and mine downstairs--and parents of two strong-willed boys, I can always count on her for insights and support. I sometimes return the favor.  

3. Embrace The Grind

When Miami Heat Head Coach, Erik Spoelstra huddles with his players during a timeout in a close game, his mantra to them is, “Embrace the grind.” 

He uses this not in games that are offensive shootouts or when everyone in the rotation is showing up, but in lower scoring games when each team is matching the other’s defensive intensity, and he needs an all-hands-on-deck, not just Jimmy Butler, effort from his rotations to find their second winds in the fourth quarter.  

I love it. 

Running a business is a grind. There are days when everything is humming, and then there are those that are heavy with fatigue, disrupted by distractions, and filled with laborious to-do list tasks. 

They test my mettle, but when I remind myself to embrace the grind, these days can wind up being my best.

4. Falling Apart Is Healthy

I’ve had three days in the last five years when I just couldn’t do it, when I shut down because of emotional and physical wear and tear. 

These were days where I did little to no work. While this sounds oxymoronic, they, too, were some of my best days because they forced me to put my mental health first and realize that everything would be there the next day when I’d be better suited to tackle them. 

These days also validated the blood, sweat, and tears (lots of tears) it’s taken to achieve year-over-year growth. 

5. I Wouldn’t Have A Business If Not For My Chamber Of Commerce

If it sounds like I’m shilling, I don’t care. 

I thought the mere acts of establishing a business name, creating a logo, and publishing a company website meant I had a business. 

It didn’t. 

Winning clients meant I had a business, and I achieved that because I joined the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce. I’d lived in this community for four years and didn’t know this organization existed. I thought chambers of commerce handled tourism. That was the extent of my awareness.

A friend recommended I check out the Northbrook Chamber, and it’s the single most important business decision I’ve made. My network I mentioned earlier, this is where it all started, and it remains my hub. The Northbrook Chamber of Commerce leadership and members taught me how to build relationships, how to be of service, and how to give back to the community that has done so much for my family. 

To that end, David Telisman Communications and the chamber are inextricably linked. 

Finally, special shoutout to my clients past and present. Thank you for your business and allowing me to do what I love. I can’t wait to follow up on this post when I celebrate my 10th business anniversary. 

About the Author, David Telisman

I am a Writer and Content Creator, and I work with businesses to inspire their customers to buy from them. I believe that my clients deserve to feel proud of how their content marketing looks and what it says, and I deliver by providing expert copywriting and marketing solutions.

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