Today marks 3 years since I started C Clark Consulting (C3)! I’ve taken some time today to sit back and reflect on all of the ups and downs that I have had over these last 3 years and how grateful I am for this experience and for every person that I’ve encountered along the way. When I started this business, I was just finishing up my MBA and let me just reiterate that the things you learn in the classroom are far different from the wisdom you get through actual experiences. While they both are beneficial, the experiences I have had have been most impactful. They have helped me accumulate a wealth of knowledge and learn some lessons that I’ve been able to make great use of at such a young age.
The Lessons I’ve Learned
- Everything takes much longer than you think it does. Have you ever told a client, “oh, that should take us about 2 hours to do. No big deal!”? Then, before you know it, you’re 2 hours in and have just reached the halfway point. Yea, me too! That’s happened to me too many times to count so I’ve learned to overestimate. The benefit is that it gives you enough time in case it’s needed but clients are pleasantly surprised when you take less time, especially if you’re charging them hourly.
- Time really is money! The old adage that “time is money” is so true and is used primarily to show the power of time when used properly as a resource. I’ve learned that while I can do many things, I simply shouldn’t be doing them. On the flip side, the time I’ve put into learning and mastering something could result in me doing something in far less time than it takes someone else to do it. I learned that I need to be mindful of that as well, and learn how to budget accordingly which brings me to my next point.
- Your value is not how long it takes you to complete a task. While it may take me 30 minutes or less to write this blog post, it will provide much more value for my company. One, it gives those who read it more insight into my journey, creating a better relationship and understanding between us. It will help generate online traffic by adding fresh content that is optimized for search to our website and it may serve as a guide to those who are going through a similar journey. If I were paying myself to do this, I would not determine that amount based on the time it takes but rather, the return on investment that it could have.
- Open communication is critical! I make sure that I have open communication with my team. I am very transparent with them and it helps them understand a lot. I also have learned that you have to be upfront with clients about everything, but not overly divulged. If you don’t know something, tell them, and let them know you will find a solution. You shouldn’t “fake it until you make it” all the time. They tend to have a better understanding if something goes wrong if you didn’t act like the expert upfront.
- The right people are worth everything! Not only with your team, but your clients, referral partners, and vendors you use. For me, I make it a point to take the time to get to know people on many different levels before involving them in my business. For my team, it’s not about just their personality or experience. Thanks to my executive coach, Carol deLaski, I use the Strength Finders tool to see what their strengths are so I can see if they are a good fit. I know my strengths and know what I need to compliment them. It also helps me determine if they will be good in a position I need them in. For example, if I need someone to help clients with strategy and they don’t have a strategic bone in their body, they won’t excel in that role.
- Gratitude is everything! Always, always, always show people you care and appreciate them. If they did something good, tell them. I have done things like drop wine at my team members’ houses, sent thank you cards and flowers to clients, sent books or symbolic gifts that represent something important to them or something they need a reminder for. I have always shown my team and clients I value them. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t get to do what I love!
- Always be learning! With marketing especially, things are always changing. Therefore, we have to keep on top of the latest trends, newest technologies, changes in Google, and of course with Facebook. It never ends but we can’t just stop there. I am a firm believer in personal development. Over the past year especially, I have made it a point to transform the person I was and get back to my core. I do a lot of personal development, do wellness retreats with my friend Larisa over at Strong By Nature, and I’ve embraced the culture of learning with my BNI membership. Like, I said, always be learning!
- Riches are in the niches. We’ve all heard that business owner say “anyone is a good fit for me.”. Well, the truth is they’re not. We all don’t have the same ethics, the same personality, the same offerings, the same way we do business and the list goes on and on. You have to find your niche. Find what you’re good at and hone in on it. Find who you love working with and search for people like them. Having a niche doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t work with people outside of that niche. It just means that’s your preference because you can offer the most value to your client. It also allows you to charge more for your expertise.
- The givers gain is real! If you’re not leading with helping, you’re behind times. You have to do business in a “human way” and you can’t be cutthroat. Well, technically you can, but let’s be honest, you won’t last that long as customers have more buying power than ever before and they’ll go where they feel treated well.
- Self-care is the most important! Have you ever heard the quote by Lucille Ball, “The more things you do, the more you can do.”? This is so true! The more self-care you take the time to do, the more you can do! You will find so much energy, enthusiasm, and excitement that you won’t be able to stop doing. Even if you’re just taking 10 minutes to meditate, reading a book for 15 minutes or walking outside in the grass with your bare feet, those are all forms of self-care and are much needed to allow you to thrive in your everyday life. Do yourself a favor and take time for yourself!