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by Darlene MacAuley
Women’s Business and Personal Development Coach for Birth Professionals

I’m preparing to speak to some new business owners next week about my businesses. I was asked to share lessons I learned, and thought I’d share some of my insights with you.

As background, I started my first business with my husband — an asset liquidation company and office furniture store. We started in our home and now have two warehouses and about 25 employees. We started the company because my husband had been laid off, so we succeeded because this was our livelihood and we were determined to make it work. In some respects we were at the right place at the right time.

Much of what I learned about owning a business has transferred nicely into my doula and coaching business, which was a good thing considering I didn’t realize how birth work would transform me. So what did I learn from my businesses?

Things I wished I knew when I started

  • I wish I’d taken the time to really learn how to read and understand financial statements.
  • I wish I’d had a mentor with my first business, someone I could have asked questions or someone who could point out what I did not know or could not see. If I’d known about business coaches I would have had one!
  • I wish I’d trusted my intuition more.
  • I wish I’d understood the difference between advertising and marketing. I’m having a lot of fun with marketing my second business. With my first I was clueless. At least I can help my other business with this new knowledge.

What I would have done differently

  • I would have gotten into the habit of regular planning and goal setting sessions.
  • I would have recruited more support for marketing efforts
  • I would have sought out a mentor
  • I would have been more vigilant in creating specific work hours than working whenever I could fit it in. Granted, at the time I had a breastfeeding newborn and a 2 year old, so working in spurts was what had to be done. But I’m still working hard to break out of that habit.
  • I would have figured out how to be with my kids more. Not just physically there, but really there, in the moment with them. They really are babies and toddlers for a very short time and need our complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual presence as often as we are able to give it to them.

What really helped me

  • Finding local small business organizations where we received a loan and took some small business classes.
  • Figuring out what I did not want to do and outsourcing it to experts who knew what they were doing.
  • Having really smart and talented partners whose strengths support one another and the business is really wonderful.
  • As a doula, I have had no problems asking for help and support.
  • When I couldn’t find a resource to help me and my business, I created one (a birth network).
  • I actively search for relevant business groups to build my referral network.
  • I invested in my personal and professional development and learned to see my perceived weaknesses in a different light.

Lessons I learned

  • Work is infinitely more fun when you’re passionate about it.
  • Having a business is an amazing outlet for creativity. If something doesn’t work, just do it differently! It evolves along with you as you evolve and grow.
  • Having a business degree doesn’t necessarily prepare you to start a business.
  • Your business lives and breathes. Nurture it and it will grow.
  • Believe you can do it, despite negative feedback you receive.
  • Create a vision of what you want your business to look and feel like. Do this and the rest will unfold effortlessly.
  • If you’re fearful, keep going. The fear is there to teach you something.
  • Building a business does take effort but the rewards are endless.
  • Having a business creates unending learning opportunities for your children. Imagine the gift you give them by pursuing your passion.
  • At the same time, it’s vital to actively nurture your relationships with your children and partner. The downside of pursuing your passion is allowing it to consume you to the detriment of your relationships.
  • Invest in your self-care. Find time to do things that nurture your soul. Taking time to feed yourself in this way will result in more inspired action and a greater satisfaction in life.

What have you learned from being in business? Visit the Inspired Birth Pro Page on Facebookand share with others, make a comment on my blog, or send me anemail.

Darlene MacAuley

Women’s Business and Personal Development Coach for Birth Professionals