10 Years. 10 Lessons: What We Have Learned From a Decade in Business
In 2007, I walked away from my corporate job. Cue second guessing and freaking out but also feeling liberated and ready. Ready for what? I wasn’t sure. I only felt in my bones that life had more in store for me.
In April 2011, I started MyBabbo. A company that has been one of the most challenging, fun, inspiring, and life-giving blessings. Five years later, in 2016, my husband Mirco left his corporate job to join me. Cue second guessing and freaking out. Again. Looking back, I can’t believe the courage (and nerve!) it took for us to do what we did. Our entire livelihood was now reliant on something that began as a hobby of mine.
The journey of our company has been a gift full of lessons. As a business owner (serving the funeral services profession) here are 10 lessons we have taken away from 10 years at MyBabbo.
1. Listen to your clients
I have been the most successful when I have listened to my clients. When I have listened to what keeps them up at night and then come up with personalized solutions for them. One size does not fit all. Get out there and talk to your clients. This will show them that you really care and let you know how you can add real value to their lives or businesses.
2. Know your WHY!
There have been times over the years when I could feel the essence of my company going off course. During these times I sometimes had trouble making decisions. I wasn’t sure about what our next steps should be. What got me back on track (on one of our yearly business retreats…more on that in another post!) was connecting back to MyBabbo’s purpose; our why. It is essential that you can articulate the WHY of your business. All roads lead back to it; otherwise, you might be off course.
3. Hire great people
I shared this quote with my husband Mirco recently: When you share life, your joys are multiplied and hardships divided. This is absolutely true in business as well. MyBabbo thrives because we have hired phenomenally great people. The rest is trainable. Figure out what you are good at and then hire for the rest. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
4. Take risks. But be ok with failing sometimes (But try to fail fast and learn quickly!)
Business requires the courage to take chances. You win some and you lose some but you will always learn. We can’t let our egos get in the way and stop us from falling down sometimes. You need to allow room (and forgiveness) for failure as this is how we grow and evolve. James Dyson famously failed 5,126 times before getting it right! I have learned you get further ahead by being open to change and trying new things. It’s not always going to work out and that's ok.
5. Keep Dreaming
I have always loved and benefited from dreaming and vision casting. We are always imagining what we can achieve or do next. In the beginning, I dreamed of having a team. Check. I always had a dream of being able to hire my husband and I made it happen. I dreamed of not working from my dining room table and I now have an office on Bloor Street. Remember lesson number four above and keep dreaming!
6. Celebrate milestones. Celebrate people
We all need more celebrations in our lives. Set goals and celebrate the milestones along the way. Celebrate with cupcakes, a toast, a party or just a thoughtful email. And always remember to acknowledge the people that shared in your successes.
7. Be a lifelong learner
We attend a leadership summit every August with the biggest business, political and church leaders in the world. We listen to lot of podcasts, read, attend workshops and invest in being the best version of ourselves we can.
8. Mind your mindset
A lot of life is lived between your ears and in your belief system. Be conscious of what you allow to speak into this space and fill it with positive self-talk and mantras, gratitude, perspective and LOVE! I have benefited in business from what my mom instilled in me from a young age to believe that anything is possible and that everything is figureoutable.
9. Mentors matter. Get one. Be one
I have been blessed with some phenomenal mentors throughout our 10 years of business. There are many smart and successful people out there that want to see you be successful. Leadership can be lonely at times and mentors help with accountability, share wisdom, and can be a much needed sounding board as you navigate your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Then pay it forward. When you can be of service to others, don’t hesitate.
10. Network and share your story
The more I shared our story, the more doors opened. People love a good story so craft yours and then share, share, share. I still believe word of mouth is the best way to grow a business. People love to support a business with an authentic and original story.
We are starting our second decade in business in the midst of a pandemic. Still, we wake up every morning with the same passion we were founded on. We are thankful for the meaningful work we get to do each day, for the lessons we have learned and for the great people alongside us. I am excited for the lessons the next decade will reveal.
And because it was really hard for me to share just 10 (because it really worked for the title!) here are three more…
11. Think long-game and pace yourself
Shit Happens. We always underestimate what we can achieve in a lifetime and overestimate what we can accomplish in a day. Expect some highs and some big-time lows. Keep going at your own pace. This is your story. Your climb. Stay fixated on the big picture and roll with the punches that business throws at you.
12. Measure your value creation
The only way you will thrive in business is if people will pay for your services. As a creative company that is passionate about our work we cannot lose sight of the fact that people need to see the value we create. Always look for feedback to measure the impact your products and services hold with others.
13. All the answers you need, you already have
Our work can leave us burnt out or with little to no margin to be able to connect with our inner selves. Make space for you. It will save you lots of time, energy and money and give you all the clarity you need. Plan for yearly or bi-yearly retreats. They are good for the soul and your bottom line.
What are the most important business lessons you have learned?
We want to hear from you in the comments!
I think the biggest lesson I have learned revolves around understand “who” you are really selling to, that sees value in what you sell, and will pay you real money to acquire it. Lets face it, no matter what your product is, the entire world is not your market; research as best you can who really really needs what you are selling and will ascribe the appropriate value to it – that is the group you want to engage with. Think of them as the lowest hanging fruit – start picking there and see where it takes you.
Great insight and learning Pete! Thanks for sharing. I agree 1000% and like how you stressed the importance of a market that see’s your value and is paying real money for it. When I started MyBabbo many people questioned why I wasn’t branching out to other occasions, birthday, weddings, babies etc. The answer was my niche market of funeral homes saw value and were paying for the product and service. Then I realized how large the death care market is and I have never left it. As “niche” as it is, there are over 10,0000 funeral homes in North America,… Read more »