What I Learned After One Year in Business

3 years ago, my cousin sent me a screenshot of a local food blogger’s Facebook post. She was looking for a social media writer to help her generate consistent content. I sent an email and established my first ever freelance client (shoutout to Fresh April Flours!).

2 years ago, a manager from my first job at Longwood Gardens pulled me into a marketing campaign for a local restaurant. Quickly, a few more clients trickled in.

1 year ago, I took a bold step to launch my own marketing and communications agency completely solo. What a year it’s been.

Being an entrepreneur and juggling one million roles, projects, hobbies, and a life at once isn’t easy, but everyone knows that. Throughout the past year, I’ve learned some really hard lessons that no one really plans for when you pack your backpack with tools and tricks you think you might need on the journey to make your business successful โ€” whatever that word means to you. I’m here to share with you what I would go back in time and share with myself one year ago.

Each and every project and/or client you take on, becomes part of you and a reflection of your work. Make sure your partnership is one that’s true of your personal and business values.

Over the summer, I went to a meeting with a lovely woman who needed marketing support for her med spa business. She told me to meet her at her spa’s office and we’d talk about her big ideas and needs for social media. I quickly became aware that what she was looking for was help marketing her botox services on social media. I left the meeting with an odd feeling. I had failed to prepare and really understand what I was walking into. But most importantly, the actual subject matter butted heads with my own personal values. We had a few follow-up discussions and ultimately, didn’t end up working with one another which was for the best. Likewise, I became very involved in a project that was hugely focused on technology and sales. Simply put, that’s just not me! And boy, did it show in my work.

I wish I could go back in time and reiterate that not every client will be a perfect fit and initial conversations don’t always pan out to a contracted partnership. What’s most important is the ability to feel your role in a project and relationship with your client is ethical and true to you.

Managing expectations might not make you feel like a superhero, but it will mitigate stress and lead to healthy client relationships.

My worst habit is hanging up after a phone call and having a list of to-dos that I promised to do right away. I’ll often find myself telling clients (and even in my full-time job) that “I’ll have that done tonight!”. It’s not that I’m being deceitful or untrue. . . I’m simply not being aware of the hours in a day and what categorizes as a true priority. I’m a lover of deadlines, but tend to impose unrealistic ones on myself for no real reason.

After one year of business, it’s important to remind myself (still) that it’s better to be clear about your priorities and when deadlines are physically possible when conversing with clients. Acting like superwoman/superman will only get you late nights and headaches. After all, a girl has to sleep โ€” preferably for eight hours.

Defining success for you is crucial to your mental health, your business, and your life.

There is so much pressure within the online community to build your business to a “six figure earning” overnight. If only an Instagram influencer class could really help you wave the magic wand over your social media following, client leads, and blog impressions. . . life doesn’t work that way. When I officially started my business last January, I made an editorial calendar, signed up for an email client, purchased a WordPress site and waited for the clients to just roll in like bees coming to honey. Ha! I quickly realized the bar I set for myself was unrealistic. I am fortunate to have a full-time job that pays the bills and provides my health insurance, but it takes up a whole lot of my time. Add in my family, my friends, my boyfriend (Hi James, I know you’re reading), working out, reading, and smelling the flowers every once and a while, and my business doesn’t really have a space in the landscape of Lauren’s life. . . So what to do?

I sat down and defined what success meant for me. I wrote a dollar amount that I wanted to earn in calendar year 2019 and worked really hard to get there. I made a promise to myself that I would never miss an event, milestone, or Girl’s Night to run my business (crazy, I know). And I made a promise to myself that not every prospective client was an automatic client. I invested more time than ever to nail down whether or not I could see myself working successfully with the person and their business.

As I look back on 2019, I am so proud of my one-woman show. I earned my monetary goal (and a little more). I spent more time with my family and friends than years before by learning to prioritize every minute of my time. And I receive almost 90% of my business from client referrals, proving I’ve done quite the job of developing relationships with my clients that are worthy of being The Talk About Town.

A special thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this past year. Whether you asked about my work or bought me a coffee because I looked exhausted, I am so appreciative of every moment.

Cheers to 2020! ๐Ÿฅ‚

How I Started My Side Hustle ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿผ

You know when you’re humming through life, you make a few decisions, and a couple years later something small led to something much bigger? It’s a tale as old as time and one I know very well. Since beginning my “side hustle” about two and a half years ago, I’ve worked with incredible clients and people I consider friends and inspirations.

My freelance work began when my cousin’s Facebook friend, Lynn of Fresh April Flours, posted that she was looking for a virtual assistant for marketing and social media help. At the time, I was wrapping up my time working at Longwood Gardens, heading to graduate school, and actively looking for income to pay for my masters. I sent my application materials to this random human and the rest is history! Lynn and I have worked together now building her business while helping her spend more time with her adorable kiddos and entrepreneurial husband, Matt, who owns an awesome gym nearby in West Chester, PA! Our partnership is where it all began. I fell in love with what it meant to help creative, busy, confident, and self-starting people with what they love to do.

The best part about this all? It’s helped me afford my masters, build relationships with incredible people, learn, and do it all from the comfort of my couch with coffee in hand.

There are days when working full-time and turning around to a list of to-dos causes me to chug coffee and take a deep breath, but I truly love it. If you had asked me a year ago where I thought my “side hustle” was headed, I would have never thought it would lead me here and I’m so grateful for it.

My advice to all looking for a “side hustle” or hobby. . . seek opportunity, do the job well, and never forget you’re working with people’s “babies” (for lack of a better word). You never know where one project will lead you! Go get busy!