The Four Biggest Things I Learned About Running My Own Business: A Four-Year Lookback

Four years ago, I filed for my LLC and established Marissa Pick Consulting. Consulting was always a dream for me and the fear of the unknown and potential lack of consistency required a leap of faith.  Ultimately, I made the decision to bet on myself, leaving my full-time role to start my own business. Looking back, this was the best thing I’ve ever done professionally. Scary, yes. But worthwhile, hell yes!

I would describe myself as someone who loves networking— I truly enjoy connecting with others and thrive in social situations. I’m a self-starter by nature and when I started my business, I was fortunate to immediately find a consulting role covering for a university Marketing Director who was on maternity leave. Coming from financial services, this was a totally new area, audience, and experience. After enjoying working with one client, I began to reach out to old colleagues, bosses, and peers and put feelers out on what could be next. After all, what did I have to lose?

 Over the course of the next four years, I would learn much about myself— as a person and as a business owner. My entrepreneurial journey didn’t follow a straight line, but I wound up learning just as much from the twists and bumps than I did the smooth paths. In celebration of the past four years of running Marissa Pick Consulting, here are the four biggest things I’ve learned:

1.   Invest in Personal Branding

As a believer in social media and content marketing I knew that ongoing brand visibility and self-promotion were essential. I have always believed that you must practice what you preach, and I decided first and foremost to focus on building a steady stream of thought leadership and content for my website and social media channels.  I started by building content on my blog and reconnecting with friends in person as well as through local events and digital meetings. One client quickly became two, and soon I had amassed a sizeable business.    

Just like I tell my clients, it’s important to develop a persona that is reachable and approachable.  So, that’s what I continue to focus on. I learned that you must put your best self forward, even if you don’t feel like it or it’s difficult to do so.  The reality is that social media has little to do with what we say about ourselves and has everything to do with what other people say about us. Treating yourself like a brand is the best advice I can offer to someone just getting started.  Funny enough, many of us have been running a business just like this the whole time, we just didn’t know it.  That business is you.  So, invest in yourself! 

2.   Get Comfortable with Change

Back in March of 2020 as COVID rocked the world, my business took a major hit as I went from several clients down to one. Instead of freaking out about my business coming to a screeching halt, I joined several communities for consultants and took a deep dive into ongoing education for small business owners, connecting with others and networking, and being present with my family. I loved taking my two boys for long hikes, and wandering around with no fear of missing calls, meetings, etc. It was honestly exactly what I needed. I refocused, rebuilt, and enjoyed the time in the moment and worked on embracing change, an area where I’ve previously struggled.

Even though I prefer predictability, I learned to adapt, become more flexible and focus much more on my communication skills. Although this is still an area I’m working on, somehow knowing that the only thing that’s certain is change allows me to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable.

3.   Don’t be Afraid to Pivot

As the world began to reopen, so did my business. Eventually I built up a steady workflow to the point of having to decide whether to scale up or make a change. I made the difficult decision to leave my own business and go in-house full time to lead a performance marketing team at an AI-powered SaaS company. I quickly realized how much I missed working for myself, the flexibility of a desirable work-life balance, and being my own boss. After six months I decided to leave this role on good terms and re-focus on re-building my business.

I realized that life is too short to be unhappy or wonder about the “what-ifs.” Yes, I made a choice to try something new, but ultimately it wasn’t what I wanted. So, I reversed course and returned to working for myself.   These decisions weren’t easy, but you must be willing to go through the mud at times to understand what will provide the most happiness and fulfillment. You may come out the other side messier, but you may also come out stronger.

4.   Find What Makes You Smile

Achieving work-life balance can be overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the fast-moving pace of life. The highlight of my day is having my kids run into my arms off the bus after school and tell me about their day. I find that kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure, and refreshing. My boys’ curiosity and hopefulness inspire my husband and me every day to smile and have fun. This really helps offset the daily stressors of running a business. Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it, and make it part of your daily routine. 

Looking Ahead to Year Five

As we approach 2023, I believe that being open minded and welcoming others into your world is going to be the key. This doesn’t mean you will agree with everyone, nor them with you, so we must keep an open mind and be comfortable acknowledging others’ views and giving space even if you don’t agree with them.  Easier said than done at times, but necessary none the less.  

I want to thank my friends and family and my extended network, especially my colleagues from Hey Mamma, The Upside, and Dreamers & Doers®. They have all been trusted navigators on my entrepreneurial journey. And I truly couldn’t’ do any of this without my husband Brandon Pick. He’s always believed in me and supported me and I’m lucky to have as a partner.

Four years later, I am even more open and positive about what the future holds. I look forward to continuing to network and meet new people, embracing change and finding joy in the everyday. Above all, I will continue to bet on myself as my business continues to grow. 

What lessons have you learned in your own business journey? Please leave a comment below and let me know.