What a year it has been!
Happy first birthday to RC HR Consulting!
What a year it has been! It has been an amazing twelve months filled with highs and lows. When I started on this journey, I had no idea what would happen! Of course the never-ending stream of advice from friends, books, websites, and naysayers was helpful, but I don’t think I’ve ever been wrong more times in a 12-month period! Despite the many mistakes I made along the way, there have been some great successes as well. Here are a few of my key takeaways for other solopreneurs just starting out and pursuing their dreams.
Say yes to every opportunity
Saying “yes” to every opportunity that came my way was an attitude that I adopted about halfway through my journey with RC HR Consulting. Even if things didn’t exactly align to my value proposition or the return wasn’t always clear, I still gave it a shot. This made a huge difference in increasing my confidence, expanding my network and getting me in front of people and audiences that were new to me.
Build your support network and utilize it often
This is very common advice and one that I took to heart before I even launched RC HR Consulting. I highly recommend it to other solopreneurs. I built a professional support network of four mentors, all of whom I had worked with previously. Without Li-Enn Koo, Hans Fuchs, Deno Hewson and Jay Lowery, I would not have made it through this first year and for them, I am eternally grateful. My personal support network of my best friend Melissa Roberts and my husband, Tak Ming Tsui, have also been there every step of the way.
Be okay with hearing “no” – or hearing nothing at all
Many solopreneurs have written about the fact that you will hear “no” many, many more times than you will hear “yes,” especially in your first year of business. I thought I was prepared for this but I wasn’t! As a solopreneur, you are so often on your own. Constantly hearing “no” can really get you down and if you don’t have a support network to help you get on the path to the next opportunity, it can be incredibly demoralizing. However, I actually found the “hearing nothing at all” response even worse. Many times, I put hours and hours into client meetings and draft after draft of proposals, only for the client to disappear and never provide me with any feedback. That is the worst outcome. Even if the answer was “no,” I always appreciated the client who would give me feedback. I learned a lot about resilience from those clients who essentially ghost you.
Get used to “brand you”
Having previously only worked at large, brand name companies, I never had to worry about “selling” myself to a client. There is an implicit trust built into a brand name that you are unaware of until you start a new business that no one has ever heard of. YOU are the brand. YOU are the product. A client is buying what YOU represent. This is something that I continue to struggle with but it is slowly starting to become more natural.
Vendor vs. in-house
As a service provider, I was suddenly on the outside looking in, essentially looked upon as a “second class citizen.” I had never worked in a vendor or services company before, so for me, suddenly being viewed as a salesperson was an unhappy shock. I think of potential client conversations as a sharing and learning opportunity and never try to outright “sell” my services. I wish more service providers did the same!
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
I don’t think there has been even one day since August 2018 where I have felt completely comfortable in my own skin. Every day as a solopreneur brings something new, something I’ve never done before, something I need to research to try to figure out how to tackle. On most days, this is exciting. It’s fun to achieve something you’ve never done before, like make your own website, get your first client referral, or deliver a keynote to a diverse audience. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become!
So what should I take away from this first year of RC HR Consulting? I’ve got clients. I’ve got speaking opportunities. I’m billing. I’ve got a bigger and more diverse network than ever before. There is a real pipeline of future client activity. It has been very tough and very rewarding. It has tested my mettle, built up my resilience, and forced me to accept my limitations and build upon my strengths.
Please help me to raise a glass to another great year of RC HR Consulting in 2020!
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Renee Conklin is an HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. She is the founder of RC HR Consulting.
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