5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from 5 Years in Business

February 21, 2024

Lesson one: on perfectionism

Done is Better than Perfect

When I was younger I was the type to get good grades, but I’d spend way too long on homework assignments in order to make them perfect. Or I would procrastinate because I wasn’t sure HOW to make them perfect and it stressed me out.

Obviously, this didn’t work for me once I entered the working world. And it was apparent even moreso once I started working for myself and was juggling 5-10 clients at once. If I wanted perfect, then I was going to work 10+ hour work days and not get paid for them (especially for projects that were not hourly-based).

When you’re doing client work, there are almost *always* edits from clients, especially when they’re new to working with you. It’s hard to comprehend somebody’s vision perfectly from the first go. That’s why it’s best to send them your work before it’s entirely “perfect”—chances are, their feedback will give you more direction to make something better than you would’ve made on your own.

Get it done, send it out, I believe in you!

Lesson 2: On Emergencies

Don’t Set Yourself on Fire Due to Someone’s Poor Planning

Hey people pleasers, I’m talking to you for this one. 🙂

Back when I first started Lucky Bee, I was people pleasing every which way. I wanted to make everyone happy, so I said yes to everything I could.

The thing about that…well, saying yes to last-minute requests, especially to multiple people at once, meant that other client deadlines would often get pushed back. Or I would be up until midnight. And that would spiral into other things like running in a state of constant high stress, not being a helpful partner with home responsibilities, and neglecting self-care. By trying to make everyone happy, I was making a lot of people, well, not.

A year into running Lucky Bee, I established a rush fee: my hourly rate increases 1.5x for any client work that’s needed within 3 business days or less. And it doubles for weekend work. If I have the availability, I don’t institute it. But if I have a lot of other deadlines? It’s necessary! It makes everyone else plan better. This positively protects my health and relationships with all my clients. Also, work things in my field are rarely actually emergencies. We are not saving lives out here. Most things can wait!

Lesson 3: On Productivity

Future You Will Not Magically Have More Capacity

Ok, I’ll admit I’m still working on this one! But it’s something Melissa Urban posted recently (highly recommend following her, she’s tagged here) and it really rings true in business.

This is also a product of people pleasing. If someone asks you to take on a new project, and you know your workload will be the same in two weeks and you are super busy now, you will not magically have more time to do that said thing down the road.

Be careful about how many projects you take on. Be realistic about your working hours. It’s ok to say no—that’s better than backing out of a project later or missing deadlines.

Lesson 4: On Communication

You Hold the Power to Prevent Negative Work Situations

Everything is a learning experience in business. But if you consistently have the same problem with clients, then it’s most likely your own fault. It’s your responsibility to do what you can to prevent uncomfortable situations.

If you realize that your clients are always wanting unlimited edits on design work, then you’re probably not asking the right/enough questions before starting the project. Or you’re not making it clear that you only have three edits included in your price estimate, and any additional edits will be your hourly rate.

If your client calls are always going over on time, then you need to be better at ending the call at the agreed upon time. People will respect direct boundaries, but you are in charge of enforcing them.

If you feel like a client is taking advantage of your time and not paying for it, and you’re resenting them for it, then stop or ask for payment.

When going through a negative client experience, I always ask myself, “how could I have communicated better or planned better to prevent this?”

The more you learn, the more you’ll avoid these situations in the future and can put processes and boundaries in place to avoid them (see #2 for an example).

Lesson 5: On Confidence

Trust Yourself.

The only person who can truly know if that potential client is a right fit? You. If your gut is screaming not to do something, but everyone else is saying “why not?” trust your intuition! You know best.

Trust yourself when you’re considering a big investment.

Trust yourself when you feel that it’s time for a price increase.

If you think a sweater will be perfect for a brand photoshoot, but your husband doesn’t like it, then wear it anyways (true story: also my favorite pictures and we laugh about it).

If someone gives advice, check their expertise and compare it to your own (see above).

I highly doubt you will ever regret things that you KNOW are or are not a fit for you.

By saying no, you’re also leaving room for dream clients and projects!

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