Inspiration

10 Crucial Lessons Learned From Our First Year in Business

first year in business
I'm Neesa

After nearly a decade at a prestigious global law firm, I said goodbye to the cold corporate hallways and set out on a mission to breakdown barriers and equip women-led creative businesses like yours with premium legal tools and quality resources to help take your business to the NEXT LEVEL. 

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The Legal Godfairy is turning ONE! 

Cue confetti, toasts, and dancing the night away: our first year in business was a wonderful journey.

Because we primarily serve fempreneurs, we know that so many women in this lovely community understand what year one in a business means: the wild efforts, the meticulous planning, the unexpected curve balls. We work with women every day who achieve this and many subsequent milestones, and the glasses we raise are to ALL of the triumphs: ours & yours!

It’s important to mark the passing of time with reflections. As our team huddled up and remembered this year, here are 10 of our lessons learned.

Entrepreneurs everywhere understand the heart-pumping thrill of a win. One of the things we’ve lived out this year is our dedication to community. That is being activated through the launch of The Legal Legacy Lounge™: a place to gather and connect with other professionals. Tap or click here to learn more about it!

1. Ditch Perfectionism

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be powerful.”

Steph Packer

If you know us at all, you know we are into being on time, on task, and on point. Hey, Type A ladies run the world. But as a business owner, there are times when you have to accept that “done” is better than perfect. It’s not a compromise; it’s a reality of the world we live in. 

This is especially essential for the creative components of our empire-building. You could never reach an “end point” in creative activities: creating the perfect color palette, perfectly worded phrase, perfectly shadowed emblem. The good news is that brands are allowed to evolve. You can arrive at the perfect version of something… for now… and still be proud of what you put in front of the world.

2. Invest in Yourself

“Invest in yourself. Your career is the engine of your wealth.”

Paul Clitheroe

We are fortunate to have a beautiful team of like minded professionals, but even with a strong company culture, each person has to take care of herself.

This is even more true for leaders. Your role is to care for others. You cannot forget to care for yourself.

For us, this is a daily practice, because an unkept inner life will catch up to you. We commit to moving our bodies everyday, quieting our minds in meditation, feeding our minds with fresh ideas, and cultivating skills that support our work. 

No one will do this for you. It should be a priority to invest in yourself.

3. Set Boundaries

“No. Is a complete sentence.”

Anne Lamott

Boundaries are another key area we’ve had to revisit and relearn in the past year of business. First, you have to decide in advance what your personal and professional boundaries are. Then, you have to put a plan in place for enforcing them.

Whether it is scope creep with a client or a personal affront, safeguarding yourself and your business with the right boundaries is essential.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect us to let this one fly without mentioning the legal aspects: contracts are the best way to get on the right foot when it comes to agreed-upon boundaries you can back up.

4. Work on Your Mindset

“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

Buddha

Business is full of mind games, but the most critical one is the one you play yourself. Your mindset shapes everything you do. This includes what you believe about yourself, and whether or not you belong in the role you have, as well as what you believe about others.

Your mentalities matter, and we’ve watched ours unconsciously or consciously impact our business growth (in a good way!).

Think you “don’t belong” or you’re an imposter in this narrative? Read about Imposter Syndrome here.

first year in business

5. Stand by Your Values

“Open your arms to change but don’t let go of your values.”

Dalai Lama

Whether you’re a corporate refugee or a total novice to the world of business leadership, you will be faced with decisions every day. These decisions will threaten your core values on levels you may never have imagined. You may think you know how you would react, but when faced with decisions that involve money, that involve your staff, that involve your future, that involve your dreams…. These are live stakes.

Your values will define you.

Your values are what you do alone when no one is watching.

Your values will inevitably shape your business.

They are always worth standing by. No matter what.

6. Know Your Numbers and Control Your Cash

“If you don’t get serious about your money, you will never have serious money.”

Grant Cardone

Most business coaches and organizational advisors will agree that outsourcing bookkeeping and finance-related tasks is a good first hire. But even if this is the first area you as a solopreneur outsource, you need to keep your eye on the piggy bank.

Money is objective, but it feels subjective. It’s the very tangible proof that you are successful. Stay on top of it. Pretty simple advice, but easy to lose sight of in the hustle and bustle of growth mode.

7. Find a Community

“Business is about relationships… how well you build them determines how well they build your business.”

Brad Sugars

There have probably never been more solopreneurs in the world than there are now. Digitization has made it easier than ever to launch your own gig and spin your way into the world of e-commerce and online business.

We love those open doors, but we don’t love the idea of you going it alone. It became very clear to us very fast that one isn’t just the loneliest number: it’s unhealthy.

You need community. Even if your business is all yours, it’s vital that you surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, coaches, and a community. You need to hear what other people are experiencing, you need to stay tuned into the broader world, you need to build other people up (and they will, in turn, build you up). 

You can find communities like this online — The Legal Legacy Lounge waitlist is open to all!

8. Focus on Sustainable Growth

“Consistency of effort over the long run is everything.”

Angela Duckworth

You aren’t here moving mountains because you want to be a flash in the pan. Yes, lightning in a bottle is exhilarating. But most growth happens when you diligently, consistently repeat the same actions over time. Just like working out: you don’t master pilates or hot yoga in a day. But the discipline will yield beautiful results.

We’ve focused on putting one foot in front of the other, dutifully and diligently creating unrivaled products and experiences. It hasn’t been easy. But we’ve been consistent.

You will hit your growth goals if you are providing something important to the market. Rather than meteoric, focus on what you can sustain in the long run. 

first year team

9. Find “A” Players Early On

“You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

Simon Sinek

Yes, we want bangin’ graphic designers and top-notch developers and other skilled professionals. But as you assemble your early team, make sure your criteria include attitude and approach.

One of the best things about owning your own business is picking who you work with. We picked people we wanted to work with. And the result has been a thriving, vibrant, fun, and focused workplace culture.

Prioritize this and you’ll see progress in all of the areas that count.

10. Don’t Forget the Long Game

“I’m not concerned with noise because I’m playing the long game.”

Jay-Z

In the first year of business, you are in the thick of it. You may have felt in and out of the weeds. And you may forget the forest for the trees. 

It is vital, we’d say essential, that you zoom out. Remember and plan for the long game.

Consider what a grown up, mature, 25 or 50 year old version of your business looks like. This keeps you from getting sucked into the day to day and reminds you to dream big. It also gut-checks every decision you make.

Picture two parallel lines. If one gets shifted even a degree, the difference would be unnoticeable for a long time. But, eventually, those two lines would end up in entirely different places.

Don’t lose sight of what you really want, and keep the long game in motion.

BONUS: Celebrate Every Win

We started this list with a description of our celebration, and we want this to be the bonus tip we extend to you:

  • Celebrate that big contract with a virtual team party.
  • Celebrate the close of a baller quarter with a gift to yourself… and gifts for your team!
  • Celebrate the launch of a new product with a livestream of bottle-popping fun.
  • Celebrate all of your year-end accomplishments with an in-person retreat.

Don’t get so caught up in “what’s next” or “what else” that you forget to live in the moment. 

Stop and be impressed with yourself, marveling at all of the ways you are shaking up the world.

We know we’re impressed with you.

The Legal Godfairy: Here for You

If you’re curious to learn more about The Legal Godfairy, visit our About page. It tells the tale of how our founder, Neesa Wilson, traded in boardrooms and stuffy suits to support freedom-seeking entrepreneurs like yourself. Just imagine.


*Disclaimer: This blog post has been prepared solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to provide, nor should it be relied on for, legal advice. Should you require advice regarding a specific matter, appropriate legal or other professional advice should be obtained.

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Hi, I'm Neesa.
Attorney-turned-entrepreneur.

I traded stuffy suits, corner offices, and corporate boardrooms to serve small business owners and other freedom-seeking entrepreneurs like you from a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea.

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