5 important things we learnt from 5 fantastic years in business

April 14th 2022 – Written By Stephanie Sheargold

virtual assistant

April marks five years since I started Timpi. How time has flown! Having started Timpi all by myself, I have always felt a strong affinity with the entrepreneurs and business owners we help on a daily basis. Wearing all the hats and working all the hours, we’re fuelled on by a buzzy combination of pride and fear, despite the exhaustion that sometimes hits us.

The first two years of Timpi were me all my own, learning the ropes, and making a name for myself and my brand. It’s where I cut my teeth, made mistakes and decided on the long-term direction for the business. The following three years were exciting in a different way. That’s when I started growing the team and expanding Timpi into the business it is today.

Inevitably, I learnt a LOT from my first five years in business. So, what better time to share my top five learnings from the last five years, than in the month Timpi turns five… let’s go!

1. Trust your instincts

As good as deep thinking and analysis is, sometimes you need to follow your gut and do what you feel is right. And that involves saying ‘no’ from time to time. It takes time to learn that declining an offer of work or a partnership is OK. Of course, when you first start up, you want to take every opportunity that comes your way. But this can lead to work with the wrong kind of client or to charging far less than you should. And that can be demoralising and dangerous for you and your business.

2. Believe in the value of your business and what you offer

Too many business owners undermine their potential by failing to recognise the value they provide to others. In my case, I love organising things and dealing with people. I could have seen this as a quirky trait but quickly realised that in fact it is a skill that many other people just don’t have. This allowed me to create a virtual assistant business which focuses on dealing with the admin that so many people just don’t have the time or the stomach for. Whatever it is that you do, do it and be proud!

3. Keep it personal

The personal touch means so much – don’t you forget it! Especially in a time when it’s harder than ever to meet up in person and when so much of business is automated, spending time on clients, checking in with them and building a genuine relationship goes a long way. As well as helping strengthen the bond you have with your clients and suppliers it also makes doing business more enjoyable. Working alongside people who you have a genuine connection with is so much more fun – what do you have to lose?

4. Build your own network

Building on from the previous point, it’s so important to build a network of people who you can rely upon for advice and support. Although my family has run their own business for years (a piano shop), no-one had any relevant advice for me when I was setting up Timpi because what I was doing was so different to what they knew. Having trusted contacts who you can use as a sounding board makes a world of difference to your state of mind and your potential for success. Not only will they give you sensible suggestions and advice, but they’ll also understand what you’re going through – and that’s priceless. Not sure how to find those people? Networking sessions and mastermind groups are a great way to find your ‘tribe’, and some people swear by working with a specialist business coach.

5. Keep on going

It’s not fashionable advice, but it is practical – just keep on going. Stamina and resilience are two of the most underrated success factors for small businesses. Stats tell us that more than half of small businesses fail within five years – running out of steam is a big part of that. There will be days that you love and days you hate, but keep at it, be consistent, and you WILL grow…

As we look towards the next five years, I’m excited about the potential for Timpi and proud about what we’ve achieved so far. What did you learn from your first few years in business? And what advice are you glad you took?  

One more thing – we small business owners need to take care of ourselves as well as our businesses. So read our blog – ‘why it’s time for SME owners to give burnout the boot (and how to do it)’ to get practical advice on protecting yourself and your team.