As of July 8th, 2021 — Carter House Copy was officially one year old. After six years in corporate marketing and communications and three more years doing the same for a nonprofit — I officially launched Carter House Copy (formerly Diana P. Carter Co.) as a legitimate business in July 2020.
Of course, I’d been doing the work on both full time and freelance basis for 11 years — but taking the plunge and working for myself was a BIG STEP for this Type A girl.
The past year has been interesting to say the least. I mean, who quits their full time job to start their own business in the middle of a global pandemic and its economic repercussions? (Oh… and did I mention I found out I was pregnant with my second child just three days after I resigned from my full-time position?)
It’s been full of wins, losses and really, really big changes —but through it all, I’ve learned so much about life and business.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from my first year as a small business owner:
Having a supportive partner is literally life changing.
If you know me in real life, you know I absolutely am obsessed with my husband, Tyler. For reasons that are far too lengthy and personal to divulge in a business blog — I’ll say this: Tyler is the very biggest blessing I’ve ever known.
And when I told him I wanted to start my own business — his reaction was everything I expected. He was supportive, excited and ready to come alongside me in any way he could.
Of course, we had that super fun financial conversation every married couple loves — but once we ironed out the budget, Tyler was 100% committed to helping CHC be a success right from the start.
Having him on my team is such a joy — and I believe it’s completely shaped the trajectory of this company.
An abundance mindset is crucial to preserve your sanity — and your energy.
Within the first 3 months of launching CHC, we were booked at near capacity. Part of this was because our clients referred us to people in their circles, and the other part of it was because I just couldn’t say no to projects.
When I first started CHC, I had the classic scarcity mindset of a freelancer. It’s feast or famine, I thought. And I was hellbent on doing everything in my power to live in the feast for as long as I could.
This meant I said yes to EVERYTHING. Even if I didn’t really want to. Even if I didn’t really need to. Even if I didn’t really know how.
I committed and overcommitted time and time again — and I was really, really close to burning out.
It wasn’t until I shifted my mindset from scarcity to abundance that I could healthily approach my work. Reminding myself that saying no to a project didn’t mean my business would crumble was a crucial belief in moving forward and growing CHC.
To this day, when I turn down a potential client or say no to a project — I remind myself of this truth: There will be more projects, more clients, and more opportunities, Diana. You cannot miss what is meant for you.
A huge part of getting to this point was…
Knowing your ideal client saves a lot of heartache.
This MAJORLY freed me up to say no to certain projects and potential clients. Once I had a firm grip on who I was trying to reach, serve and work with as clients — I had a clear understanding of which project requests I needed to prioritize and which ones I needed to turn down.
The truth was simple: Without knowing who I was trying to reach, I was trying to reach everyone. This resulted in watered down messaging that was ineffective and counterproductive.
Nailing my ideal client persona saved me a tonnnnn of time that I’d previously spent working on projects that I didn’t love or that didn’t fuel my passion. This allowed me to show up fully and passionately for the clients I was saying yes to — and I was able to serve them better.
Paying the IRS is a huge gut punch.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet because if I don’t, it may turn into a 2,000 word essay on how much I hate paying taxes 🤪
Let me just say this: If you’re a profitable business from the get go, prepare to pay the IRS a hefty lump sum come tax time. For this reason alone, I recommend hiring an accountant or tax attorney to help you file your tax returns.
You don’t have to do it all alone.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned in one year of business was the value of delegating and outsourcing. Adding Brooke to our team as an intern and then quickly promoting her to Content Manager was one of the best decisions I made for CHC. After that — some other partnerships I couldn’t have lived without this year were:
- Working with The Website Workroom for the design of my website.
- Leveraging client, Terri Flannagan, as a small business consultant to help me scale DPCC as we grow.
- Hiring Margaret from Kocaj Consulting to help consult on DPCC’s tax strategy.
In some ways, I can hardly believe I’ve been in business for a year — and in other ways, it feels like I’ve always been doing this.
But in every way? It feels like I am living a real life dream.
To my clients who’ve made this year exponentially better than I ever could’ve imagined — thank you.
You guys are the real MVPs and I can’t wait to see where year two takes us together.
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July 26, 2021