Lessons Learned

Lessons We Learned In Our Second Year In Business

FocusCopy Turns 2 Years Old

FocusCopy turned 2 years old over the weekend (August 15, 2021)! 

I am immensely proud of what my team has accomplished, how our clients have grown their businesses, and that we’re still growing.. 

How We Got Here

When I think back to when we first started, it was a completely different story. 

At the time, I was 24 years old, stubborn to a fault, and relentless to make this company work. Businesses needed better copy. And I was the woman to do it! Back then, I was doing all the marketing, writing, documentation, sales, networking, operations, bookkeeping, and working out every little detail that would arise… But it didn’t matter at that point. I loved starting my own business!  

Of course, the pandemic struck only 6 months later. 

Thankfully, resilience and fresh eyes pushed through. 

Remarkably, we grew and hit our 1 year anniversary

Starting year 2 was a different beast. 

When we began our second year, the team included my co-founder Stuart Broderick, a part-time copywriter, and myself. But within a couple short months, we added 2 full-time copywriters to the team. We started working with 30-year-old, multigenerational companies. The most incredible people were coming out of the woodwork and trusting us with their copy. It was an exhilarating ride!

In the first 6 months of 2021, we quadrupled our revenue. 

And while this is a nice story to tell, I now know why one of my favorite mentors often said: 

“Let me teach you why you should never be an entrepreneur.”

6 Lessons We Learned In Our Second Year In Business

If year 1 was exhilarating, year 2 is exhausting. However, we expect year 3 to be electrifying. 

1. Entrepreneurship Is Exhausting.

As I write this blog, I feel this in my bones. 

Entrepreneurship is exhausting. 

There’s no sugar-coating it… It’s not for the faint of heart at all. 

Don’t misinterpret that though… 

Entrepreneurship is absolutely worth it because it has provided so much purpose in my life. 

So if you’re choosing to go down this path, anticipate the exhaustion and create space in your schedule so that you are not overwhelming yourself. Breaks are critical to the success of an entrepreneur. You need more of them than you think!

To give you an example, towards the beginning of year 2, I was working 7 days a week. 

It actually wasn’t until November 2020 (15 months into business) that I took my first weekend off. My husband and I actually ended up submitting and getting an offer accepted on our first home that very same weekend. 

My next break was in May 2021 where I took 2 business days and the weekend off. But guess what? The company didn’t crash and burn to the ground. Clients still got their deliverables and were more than satisfied with them. 

Breaks provide so much clarity and much needed rest. 

Preaching to the choir here… You need time to not think about your business. 

One of the counselors that we write for recommends taking a 1-2 day “vacation” each month. It doesn’t have to be grand or extravagant. But it has to be time well spent away from the business and unplugged from the world. This is one the most important lessons I’m taking with me into year 3. 

2. Surround Yourself With Supporters.

This lesson still applies from last year. As an entrepreneur, you need to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and people who want to see you succeed. Never before have I had so many people reach out to me… When I didn’t show up in July because we were so deep in client work… When I kept quieter than usual in virtual networking meetings… When they just had a feeling…

2021 has been rough for just about every person I’ve talked with this year. There have been multiple deaths, numerous hospitalizations, burnout beyond anything I’ve ever seen before, and of course, exhaustion – both emotionally, and physically. As a natural empath, my heart has been burdened. While it’s an honor to be that safe place people turn to for support, it’s been especially taxing lately. 

I’ve had to rely on my support system as I rely on the air in my lungs. 

So, more than ever, find people (whether they are entrepreneurs or not) that text and call you with messages of encouragement…

“God’s been placing you on my heart for some reason so I just wanted to say you’re in my prayers and I’m rooting for you sista!”

“Hey friend! Wanted to check in and see if everything is okay! You’ve seemed kinda quiet lately.”

“It’s okay to not to grow month over month. Sometimes, you need to stay the same as the previous month to catch your breath”. 

“I read this book and I think you’d find this really helpful with your growth.”

Find people that will lift you up when you need it, laugh with you about your mishaps, hold you when all you want to do is cry, and remind you that you, too, are human and have limits. 

You need support, friend. 

Emotional, physical, and spiritual support. 

3. If It Feels Off, Don’t Do It.

This. Trust your instinct! This goes with hiring, networking, clients, sales… Everything! 

It doesn’t have to make sense from an outside perspective, but it has to feel good. 

One thing we ask ourselves before engaging with anyone is “would we actually want to grab a cup of coffee and hang out with them?” 

So to my clients that are reading this… I absolutely want to hang out with you! I want to learn from you, hear your story, cheer you on, and be a shoulder when you need it. 

We use that question listed above because in our business, we see all angles of the business. It is not uncommon for clients or partners to find emotional support in our meetings because we believe in building meaningful relationships and creating a safe place for them. 

Can you imagine if we didn’t like who we were meeting with? Our response would feel awkward and inauthentic.

So lead with your gut in front. It won’t steer you wrong! 

4. Document, Document, Document.

This has become a huge part of our business this year. Documentation is HUGE in downloading the expert’s brain and replicating steps. This step is how you really scale a business. 

Plus a business is typically worth more if there is documentation compared to a company without any documentation. 

Start by looking at the most obvious tasks and goals in your business. For us, that included producing website copy and blog copy. Document each step. What do you need to do before you start working on that assignment? How do you complete the task? What happens after the task is completed? 

5. Trust Your Team & Let Go Of Control.

If you followed lesson #3 and lesson #4, then you have no excuse but to trust your team. You’ve done 90% of the hard work. Now, you have to sit back and see them flourish. 

This was a fun lesson for me to learn. It wasn’t until one of my team members told me, “Lauren, I can take this off your plate” that I remembered I hired them for a reason. They are more than capable. They are the people I trust to make it happen. 

Systems, processes, and quality checks make it so much easier to loosen your grip on the day to day operation. That also makes it so much easier to replicate your successes over and over again.  

6. Hire a Business Coach.

This was one of the riskiest but worthwhile decisions I’ve made so far. Truth was, I couldn’t rely on my memory of what my mentor told me before he died in 2017. I felt lonely. I wasn’t holding myself accountable. And my business was growing faster than I could keep up with it. 

So we set goals and I had my marching orders. 

And goals were not only met, but exceeded. 

If you need recommendations for business coaches, reach out to me. I’ve networked and worked with dozens and dozens of business coaches across the US. Here are some of my favorite people:

Year 3, Here We Come!

In my mentor’s words, let me show you why you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur so that you see the true value in entrepreneurship. It’s the most difficult job in the world, but it’s also the most rewarding job. At the end of year 2, FocusCopy is now supporting 5 families and has written for over 50 brands across the US and Canada. 

With our third year in front of us, I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead, helping even more businesses grow, and connecting with others who are on the same crazy path of entrepreneurship.

Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business

FocusCopy Turns 1 Years Old (6 Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business)

Over the weekend, FocusCopy celebrated its 1 year in business (August 15, 2020). 

And it’s been one heck of a year! 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 20% of entrepreneurs fail in their first year of business. If it’s a first-time entrepreneur or a woman-owned business, then the success rate dwindles even further. Additionally, COVID-19 has put many companies out of business (over 60,000).

Theoretically, it should have put us out too.

But with the odds stacked against us and with our incredible clients and partners, we’re standing here today – stronger than when we started and looking to grow further. 

If you’re a first-time business owner or a serial entrepreneur, don’t be bound by those statistics.

6 Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business

Here are a few lessons that we learned in our first year of business that are too good not to share with you. 

1. Surround Yourself With Other Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial loneliness is a real thing, and I’m so thankful that I learned that lesson during my time in the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. Very quickly after launching FocusCopy, I surrounded myself with clients and partners that were truly invested in my and FocusCopy’s success. It made all the difference in the world. 

When I had a question about anything, they had answers. 

They found opportunities for us that we didn’t know existed. 

When I needed emotional support, they encouraged me. 

They wanted to see me and FocusCopy grow and succeed. 

2. Celebrate Every Win.

At every milestone (even the most seemingly insignificant ones), we celebrated. Because I acknowledged and celebrated every “win”, I woke up more energized to surpass my client’s expectations. It made working 12-16 hour days a walk in the park. Celebrating every win allowed me to be grateful and sustain ourselves in this marathon that is being an entrepreneur. 

What were some of our wins? 

  • Signing the first client
  • Seeing that first check hit the bank account (even if it was only $50)
  • Closing our first out-of-state client
  • Having to order more business cards because I ran out of the first 1,000
  • Seeing one of clients have their 2 best months ever in business after their worst month ever due to COVID
  • Hiring our first employee

Find it. Mark it. Celebrate it. 

3. Say “Yes” Then Figure It Out Later.

From the very foundation, this was one of our company values, and it still rings true today. When a client asks for something, always always say “yes”. You never know what it’s going to lead to – a bigger deal, a lesson learned, a new business partnership. 

Create a willingness to just say “yes”. Yes, it will be scary. Yes, you may be in uncharted waters. 

But if you never say “yes”, then you’ll never know what could have been. 

4. Hire a Bookkeeper.

Thanks to one of my favorite “bosses” and mentors Jim Wilkinson, I learned the importance of accounting early on in my career. Our bookkeeper has been the biggest blessing to FocusCopy’s growth (and to my sanity). Find a bookkeeper – no matter what your size – they can help you keep your books clean, help you celebrate your growth, and find your opportunities to optimize your financials. 

If you aren’t an expert in a particular area, outsource it. Just like a bookkeeper isn’t an expert in copywriting, a copywriter doesn’t need to be an expert in or do their own bookkeeping. In the same way, a copywriter doesn’t need to be a graphic artist or vice versa.

5. Work With Clients Who Want To See You Succeed.

We have the best clients! I say it all the time. One thing that I didn’t expect starting my own business is that my clients would be as invested in my business as I was in theirs. 

Every meeting, my clients would ask (and want to know) how business was going. 

They would even refer business to us because they knew the value we bring and they wanted both their colleagues and us to succeed. 

To my clients, thank you for your unending support and love! It means the world to me and my team! 

6. Listen Closely.

Keep your ear to the ground and listen for what’s happening – in the world, with your clients, and with your client’s clients. 

A mentor once told me to look in the most unlikely places to find what you need to be a great entrepreneur. 

This advice is what I attribute our ability to pivot so quickly after the quarantine to hit. As a result, we were able to not only grow ourselves, but help clients come back from their worst month ever in business or come back from what should have looked like bankruptcy. Every single one of our clients are not only surviving, but truly thriving! 

It’s been an absolute blessing to be part of that. 

Year 2

We’re so excited for what the next year holds for FocusCopy. Plans are in place; now we need to execute them!

Be In The Know.

Starting August 24, 2020, FocusCopy will be sending out a bimonthly newsletter with what we’ve learned, what we’re seeing in the marketplace, and copywriting tips that will be a game changer for your sales growth.