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  • Writer's pictureNicole Johnson

7 things I learned as a first year business owner

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

Starting a business is a lot like first-time parenting. The time and energy you put into it can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving those first twelve months. Both provide critical periods of learning, despite the long days and endless nights.

As a founder of an agency that's still in its infancy, I've learned a lot. Hopefully, things that might be helpful to you as well.

Here are 7 of the most impactful things I've learned as a first year business owner.

1. If you don’t work, nothing else will

There are no shortcuts. You get out what you put in. It takes time, energy, and focus to accomplish your brand’s mission and for your business to grow and flourish.

2. Change your mindset, change your life

Thoughts matter. What you say to yourself and about your business matters. In fact, studies have shown that having a growth mindset as applied to business can make you more successful.

So, for me, whenever negative self-talk creeps in, I immediately replace it with something positive. A perceived failure becomes a learning opportunity; a setback becomes an opportunity for a comeback.

3. Don’t focus on what others are doing

In the age of social media, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of curated images and filtered selfies and wonder if you’re missing out, or worse, if there is something wrong with you.

Rather than get sidetracked by posts that flood your social media feed, I've learned to take inspiration from it.

Tip: Remember why you started on this journey in the first place and realize that it might take 3, 5 or ten years of quiet hard work before your big turning point.

4. Make health your #1 priority

There’s a reason why healthy people are more successful than unhealthy ones. When you are

happy with the way you look and feel, you are more confident, creative, and productive. This includes your mental, physical, and emotional well being.

When you are happy with the way you look and feel, you are more confident, creative, and productive.

Here are some ways I’ve managed to make my health—and myself—a priority:

  • I wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day to exercise and get my day started.

  • I spend 10-20 minutes each morning on something that grounds me (e.g. reading a verse or quote; saying a prayer).

  • I meal prep. Literally, this has become a lifesaver both to my waistline and my mental health.

  • I seek out daily things that inspire me. Presently, it's fitness, clean eating, successful female founders and inspirational people in general.

  • I aim to do something every day that “scares” me. (Today, I published this blog post! :)

5. Tap into your personal network

As a new business owner it’s important to leverage your existing network in order to establish new connections and grow your business. After all, a warm introduction is a lot better than a cold lead.

6. It’s never too late to get started

Overcome the idea that it’s too late to get something started. There are many examples of inspiring people who found success later in life. Apply for that position. Launch that blog. Eat the cake.

7. You’re stronger than you think you are

Lastly, I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes by Winnie-the-Pooh that sums up this wild and crazy entrepreneurial journey: “Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

And as I sit back and think about what I learned most last year, I’ve settled on one thing that seems to have made the biggest difference in my life. I learned to believe in myself.

What important lessons have you learned in business? Or in life? Let us know in the comments below. Connect with us via Instagram @njmedia_ or visit

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