Well this has certainly been an exciting year! It has been just over six months since I left the corporate world and took a leap of faith to start Good to Grow Marketing. It has been an incredibly busy and rewarding time for me and I’ve learned so much.

I’ve been encouraged and supported by many of my former colleagues, friends and family. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with some incredible clients who were willing to take a chance on me as I was starting out.

For those that are thinking of embarking on their own entrepreneurial journey, I thought would share my top 10 insights so that you can learn from my experience. Here they are!

10. My network of former colleagues, friends and family has been invaluable. I’ve met so many people in my personal and professional life and have formed many ongoing relationships. My first clients have all come through referrals from former colleagues and friends. It’s so important to stay in touch with your network. LinkedIn can be a great tool for staying connected and top-of-mind with a large number of people.

9. Managing a business takes alot of time and it’s easy to get stuck on silly little things. I suspected that accounting and administration would suck, and I was right. Life has gotten easier since I’ve started using FreshBooks to manage my time tracking and invoicing. I’ve also hired a virtual assistant to help with some administrative work and to be there to answer questions (like when I get stuck on a silly formatting question and have nobody to ask!). Get good systems and templates in place from the start so that you don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel and can focus on doing the work that will help grow your business.

8. It’s so important to just get out there and meet people. It’s easy to get stuck behind your computer planning your business, but it’s important to get out and meet people so that you are visible. I always go into every networking situation with an objective in mind and know that there will always be at least one little nugget of wisdom that I will take away. It might be re-connecting with a former colleague, or meeting someone new that could be a referral source or client. Or it could be meeting someone that I can help in some way, knowing that good karma will bring that helping hand full circle some day.

7. On a related note…you could be at a networking event for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you need to focus on the right events. Even just in the Halton Region, there are hundreds of events each year. I tend to go out to an event for an organization a couple of times to assess the value and then make a call as to whether they stay on my list. I have chosen to be active in two organizations (including Company of Women) that I think will help support my entrepreneurial journey personally and will connect me to potential partners, vendors and referral sources. I have also chosen one organization where I’ll be more likely to meet potential clients and am exploring one more in the New Year. It is important to be clear about your objective in dedicating time to networking events.

6. I’m a person that figures out how to get things done. Before I left the corporate world, I spent some time working with a business coach. In trying to develop my own personal vision statement, one of the exercises I worked through asked me to recall situations where I had accomplished something great personally or professionally and to try to find the common thread. My aha moment lead me to learn that I am a person that “figures out how to get things done.” Whenever I have felt overwhelmed in the past few months, I have come back to this personal mantra and it has helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel knowing that I WILL figure whatever it is out.

5. People are more than willing to help you if you ask. I have been amazed to discover a thriving network of entrepreneurs who are unbelievably open to helping each other. Rather than being afraid to admit that I don’t know something, I have openly reached out to my network and felt so supported. Women entrepreneurs have been particularly helpful in my journey and I encourage you to find your support network from the beginning. Believe me, you’ll be calling on them!

4. I don’t miss the commute, but sometimes I miss the water cooler. The ten steps from my back door to my home office (formerly our shed!) is definitely nice. I love being able to walk my kids to school and not being the mercy of a train schedule. I do sometimes miss the casual conversations and cups of coffee with colleagues. I’ve made a point of getting out a couple times a week to get in a workout mid-day. I also try to make sure I have a few face-to-face client meetings booked each week to make sure I get out of my pajamas and connect with people! Facetime and Skype are also great tools to get some virtual contact when you are feeling a bit alone.

3. Everything takes longer than you think! In some cases, I charge clients on a project basis so it is important to try to scope the project accurately and estimate the hours involved. I’ve learned that no matter how long I think something will take, there is always some glitch that slows things down or a client that needs more attention than I thought. I’ve learned very quickly to estimate my hours on a project and then build in a buffer for unknowns.

2. I really can add value and love working directly with business owners. This has been the most important lesson for me. One of my biggest hesitations when starting out was whether I would really be able to add value for clients. With six months of experience and a few clients under my belt, I can honestly say that I have tons to offer to my clients. My experience in marketing combined with the best practices I’ve been exposed throughout my career give me the ability to help businesses build strong marketing foundations across all disciplines of marketing. My understanding of the mindset of business owners also helps me quickly form strong relationships. I find it so rewarding to sit with a business owner and feel like I can truly help them grow their business, and knowing that they are truly appreciative of my help. For me, that’s what this journey is all about.

1. I love being in control of my own destiny. As the year winds to a close, I am overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude and excitement. I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to develop my own business in a way that allows me to be my true, authentic self. And I am excited about the year that lays ahead as the vision for where I want to take my business is becoming clearer to me by the day.

Laura Valvasori

Laura Valvasori

Good to Grow Marketing

 

After spending over 15 years working across all areas of marketing marketing and business development, I left the corporate world to start Good to Grow Marketing. With a broad understanding of marketing, I focus on marketing strategy and planning.

At the heart of what I do, I’m a connector. I connect business strategy to marketing strategy. I connect tactics to maximize value and impact. I connect people.