If 2016 was a year of transition for me, then 2017 was the year of settling into the new. That is, if launching a new business and working with new clients can be called settling in. As 2018 looms, it’s time to reflect on lessons from 2017.
2017 has been a year of learning what it takes to grow a business and gain the trust of clients. I covered this in the post, “One year anniversary, how are we doing?” It’s also been a year of learning how to spend more time with family – my retired husband, my daughters and grandkids. But that will have to wait for a future post.
My most important business lessons this year:
Do what you love and are good at – Yes, it’s important to have stretch goals and get out of your comfort zone. But if you truly love what you do, you are going to get better all the time. Our client work at StarBridge Advisors involves a range of IT consulting, interim management and leadership coaching. As an operations type person and change agent, I enjoy being an interim CIO. To work for a period with a new team and figure out how best to help them succeed is challenging and rewarding. And to work with someone as an executive coach as they learn about themselves, identify their development needs and goals, and work through their action plan is also very challenging and rewarding.
Relationships are everything – Whether it’s our clients or channel partners, developing and sustaining honest, open and trusting relationships is critical to success. A successful consulting firm prides itself on being 100% referenceable. We are no exception in striving for that same goal. The repeat business with several of our first-year clients tells me we’re well on our way to meeting this goal.
Rely on your colleagues – They bring their own unique strengths and skills. Working closely with the other StarBridge principals, David Muntz and Russ Rudish, has been a learning opportunity as well as great fun. David has extensive experience and knowledge in security, interoperability, and government regulations well beyond what I have. Russ has years of business development and sales experience in healthcare consulting that I regularly rely on. Who knows what they would say about me? You can get a glimpse in Russ’s post about our startup adventure. Most important, there is mutual respect for what we each bring to the business.
Be willing to constantly learn new skills and tools – I commented on this in the post, “Something new every day”. I have been the principal responsible for marketing, social media and our website; it’s been a fun year of learning new tools and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. All the social media articles I’ve read tell me no one ever fully masters it. Knowing your target audience, providing valuable content and keeping it fresh are key.
Manage your time – I went into this venture hoping to work roughly three quarters time over the course of a year. But during interim engagements, the time commitment is more than 100%. Does three quarters mean blocking off certain days or parts of days each week, a week off a month (sounds luxurious!) or just the slower pace of work in between interim engagements? For workaholics like me it is a challenge. There is always something else to do: sales calls, marketing, or developing new collateral and re-usable tools. Ask my retired husband how I’m doing on this one.
Be willing to take risks – I’ve gone through my professional career thinking I’m not a big risk taker. I’m willing to be an early adopter but not the first. I like to make decisions when I have enough data and a complete analysis. Launching a new business in an already crowded market could be called risky. My husband asks if I ever thought I’d be such an entrepreneur. Of course not. But here I am with my StarBridge colleagues. We’re making it happen and making a positive difference for our clients!
I’d love to hear your lessons from 2017. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful new year in 2018!
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