It’s early November, which means Avocado Social has just turned one year old. Happy Birthday to us!
It’s been a fantastic year, working with a whole host of businesses and startups across the UK, hosting social media workshops for companies including Visit Scotland, Etsy and Fellowes and teaching regular social media classes at General Assembly and Enterprise Nation.
It’s gone as quick as lightening so I wanted to take some time to reflect on 5 key learnings which I’ve taken from my first year in business. I hope you enjoy them, and feel free to add your own learnings in the comments below!
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them
Running your own business is a complete learning curve and of course you are going to make mistakes, but the key thing is to make sure you don’t repeat those mistakes again. Below are three mistakes I made over the year and how I’ve learned not to make them again:
- I’ve misjudged how long projects would take: This can be a killer for your business, especially as I hate keeping clients waiting! It means you need to put in extra hours at weekends and evenings to get the work done. Now I make sure I leave some extra time in my diary around the end of a project to ensure it gets finished and delivered within the expected time.
- I’ve taken on too much work at times: There is a temptation to say yes to everything at first, but I’ve learned that there are only so many hours in a day so you can’t do everything that comes your way. I now make sure I have at least one day at home a week for planning and admin. Yoga is a real help for me as it allows you to switch off, so I make sure I make a minimum of a couple of classes a week.
- I’ve accepted projects which I don’t have a passion for or interest in: I quickly realised that if I don’t have a passion for the project, then I’d put it off for as long as possible. This isn’t productive nor is it fair to the client, so now I only accept projects which I believe in.
2. Be generous
I like to be generous as I feel it’s a great way to strengthen relationships, and get yourself noticed. Offering free blog content, speaking at events for no fee, and giving free advice are all techniques that have helped me to grow awareness of my business and also win new clients.
3. Utilise social media
Of course, I am a huge advocate of social media. It’s great to hear that many clients came to me because of my presence on Twitter, or because they had searched on LinkedIn. I received a new business enquiry through my personal Facebook Page recently too! Keep your audience informed of what you are doing in your business, you never know who will be reading it.
4. Outsource to experts
Your time is worth everything, so don’t spend too much time fiddling around with things you simply aren’t good at. I outsource my accounting, my website design and branding, and I have SEO and PR contacts I regularly call upon. Without these businesses and freelancers, I wouldn’t have any time to work on my own clients, nor do I have the expertise to do what they do quickly and efficiently.
I outsource various social media research tasks to my trusted network of experts which I have spent time building relationships with. This for me is far more cost effective than a full time team, and they can plug in as and when I need them. This is a key part of how I have kept the business lean. For more ideas, I’d recommend The Lean StartUp by Eric Ries and Enterprise Nation’s Going for Growth.
5. Give something back
I’ve been very lucky to have had such a great first year of business! It makes me all the more keen to give something back to charity, and to everyone that has supported Avocado Social over the past 12 months.
I’ve decided to offer a free 2-hour social media consultancy in support of BBC’s Children in Need. I will reward the highest donation I receive with a face to face sit down or a Skype session. You can enter here. So please, give what you can – it’s for a great cause!