10 Lessons from 10 Years in Business

Married Couples who own business together

This article was written by Michelle Weger.

As we celebrate 10 years in business, it is the perfect time to reflect on what I have learned over the last 10 years.

When creating this list, it was important to me that I avoid the cliche business advice we all have heard so many times before. I hope you find it interesting and helpful.

1. Your first idea may fail. So may your second one.

Did you know my first business idea had nothing to do with developing websites or automation for other people?

Outclassed INC Ottawa Sun ad

When I incorporated Outclassed INC (the parent company of Venture Creative Collective) my idea was to create an online directory of classes and activities in all cities. People would be able to find new fun things to do and book online.

Except it never happened.

I didn’t have the skills to do the coding myself, nor the money to hire people who did.

I went on to learn how to code, with the intention of creating the platform myself. Instead I fell in love with coding and created a new business model creating websites and automation for other people. That remains the core element of this business to this day.

Find out more on how I accomplished that here.

2. Don’t compare your start to someone else’s middle.

At 21, when I started this business, I still lived with my parents. When I moved out of their home later that year, I worked as a waitress on evenings and weekends to make enough money to pay my bills, as the business alone was not enough.

My first big business goal was to be able to stop waitressing. That meant the business needed to be successful enough to cover my costs of living.

When that finally happened, I was elated.

Red aston martin v8 vantage supercar

10 years on, there are new goals. They are bigger goals, but still small compared to people who are 20 or 30 years into business.

Do not fall for the trap of comparing yourself to someone who is further down the road than you.

3. Your competitors can be a great source of business.

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Know yours and find out those of your competition.

Refer people to other businesses based on their strengths and ask them to do the same based on yours.

Some of my best referral sources are people and businesses that others would consider competition.

4. You are not as smart as you think.

21 year old Michelle was certain that she was super duper smart.

31 year old Michelle knows she is intelligent, but also knows how much more she will learn over the coming decades.

Spend time with people smarter than you and further down the path than you. That can be in the form of a mastermind, networking group, or coach.

5. Telling the truth isn’t bragging.

People, and women in particular, have a habit of not celebrating our successes publicly.

If people don’t know about what you do, they won’t know that they can do it too.

By sharing your successes you allow yourself to celebrate while being an example to others for what is possible.

6. Success lives on the other side of fear.

Doing things that scare you is hard. Most people avoid doing it.

If you can push yourself out of your comfort zone you will be able to grow.

Michelle Weger speaking in special shoes

It is not fun and it doesn’t get easier, but it is vital for your long term growth and success.

Click here to read my story of facing a fear (of speaking on stage) and how I got myself to take the leap. Spoiler: it involves a great pair of shoes!

7. Always keep learning.

Earlier this year, I invested 5 figures USD for my team to do private SEO training with the top SEO company in North America.

It was a big, scary investment.

It has also allowed us to bring more value to our clients.

We levelled up. By investing in our learning we are now able to produce even better results than our competition. That means our clients are making more money because we took the time to further our learning.

This would not have happened if I had not been willing to take the risk of making that investment.

By continuing to learn, you can be the leader, instead of playing catch up.

8. Don’t hide what makes you ‘weak’.

40 Under 40 winner Michelle Weger

For the first 5 years of business I hid that I have narcolepsy over fear of being judged.

I did not go to events, because I was afraid of what people would think. This had a negative impact on my ability to network and grow my business.

By being brave and showing who I really am, I have grown my circle, and by proxy, my business.

These days I am accompanied at events by my service dog, a Great Dane.

If walking around with a dog over 100lbs isn’t the opposite of hiding, I don’t know what is!

9. Celebrate your wins.

Michelle Jimmy Choos

I buy a new pair of shoes to celebrate milestone achievements.

Although there are rarely occasions to wear them these days, it still brings me joy to look at them and remember what I’ve done.

It is easy to focus on what you still want to accomplish after reaching a big goal, but it is so important to reward yourself for the achievements along the way.

Read the story of my biggest shoe purchase

10. Working with your spouse is hard…

Michelle Weger Nabil Ould Brahim business owners

… and worth it.

I am so fortunate to work with my husband, Nabil, who is one of the best developers I have ever met. He has an amazing story of his own. Read it here.

It takes a lot of patience and effort to spend all day every day together. But, the rewards are worth all the work.

There is nothing more powerful than a couple working towards a shared goal.

Do you want to benefit from these lessons learned?

Booking a call is the first step in working with Michelle!

From how to build a website that makes you more money than it costs to leveraging automation to make your business life easier, our posts feature real stories from our lives and business.

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