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I'd planned to write a short post about the key things I've learnt since forming Dimmock Web Marketing 7 years ago (September 2008) last Friday, when I eventually got back from BrightonSEO. However, en-route to the conference, I heard some terribly sad news: a dear friend (and a light bearer in the SEO industry) had passed away.

 

With family in tow (we'd decided to make it a mini-break), tears flowed, but my wife and I decided it best to continue to the event (although I wanted to turn around, go back home and get away from it all).

 

I felt like I'd had the stuffing knocked out of me.

 

"Of course you're going to make it, Dana! You're an overcomer! You will walk again. Step by step, day by day, you're going to make it!".

 

I thought about the conversations I'd had with Dana, after her horrific cycling accident and the hope that we (as an industry) truly believed that she'd eventually pull through. Like everyone else upon hearing the devastating news, I was shocked and numb.

 

 

Three beautiful posts that I read (that capture the essence of Dana's spirit) and that helped me through last Friday, can be found here, here and here

 

As loving messages of warm memories poured in throughout the day on Facebook, I thought deeply about what Dana stood for and the love and light she shared with everyone she met or conversed with. I remembered the Title Tag of her blog that simply says "Find something you love. Optimize it!" - the key word there is "Love" and she opitimised and optimised it better than anyone I knew! She really was an over-comer in the truest sense of word.

 

I wasn't fortunate to meet Dana in person, as I'm based in the UK and Dana was in the US, but I did have the pleasure of speaking with her via G+ hang-outs, email and social media, both before and after her accident. I will treasure our conversations and Dana's insights for the rest of my life, for I was truly blessed to have known her for a relatively short period of time.

 

So, in memory of my dear friend Dana (we spoke about life and business experiences a lot), I've listed below 7 things I've learnt from owning and running my company since it's formation 7 years ago in September 2008:

1) Worry and fear will cripple you.. unless you learn to live in the "now"

 

95% of the things I've feared and worried about, never came to pass. Instead of regretting the past or worrying and being in fear of the future, I've learnt to live in the now. Because what you and I do now determines our tomorrow and resolves our yesterdays. 

2) It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks - it matters 10x more what you think

 

So many times I stopped what I was doing and changed course, due to others opinions. In hindsight, I wished I'd stayed the course and followed-through on my hunches and ideas. What I've learnt is that we all have a life-path to follow and when something is screaming out at you to do it, however scary or uncomfortable it is, we should do it.

 

Learning to listen to the voice within, in-spite of outside criticism or obstacles, enables us to develop confidence in ourselves. That is a priceless attribute in today's society.   

3) It's OK to fail and to fail again and again - no if's, but's or maybe's

 

On my blog, I've talked about what worked, what worked well and what sucked and that Iron doesn't become steel until it's been through the furnace. That furnace is really a friend called "failure". And I've failed at most things in my business life. But I chose to get up after every one, dust myself off, learn from the experience and move on. You have exactly that same choice too!

4) Friends (and business colleagues) will come and go - life moves on

 

Are you a reason, a season or a lifetime? What are your friends and business associates? I remember when I first started my company, I tried to ensure that every friend remained a friend and every new client remained a client. It took me quite a while to figure out that some friends, business colleagues and clients came into my life for very specific reasons. Sometimes they remained a season (but not always) and a few have become lifetimes (when I first thought they were seasons).

 

Life just moves on. The pearls are what we become because of them and how we help them while we're connected to them.   

5) When you lose a friend or loved-one, stop and let yourself grieve

 

Some of you may know that I lost another good friend (who was also a client) last November, due to a motorcycle accident. I thought I could handle the grief of losing Lee and still remain productive at work. How mistaken I was.

 

It came to a head when I broke down at work and cried uncontrollably. I needed to process what had happened and grieve without the complication of "business".  I know this is a touchy subject, especially as this post pays tribute to Dana. Let yourself grieve, allow your emotions the time to process your loss and let it all out.

6) If you run your own business, cashflow is king

 

If your outgoings out-weigh your income, your up-keep will become your downfall. And I can't tell you how many times I went to the wire to keep Dimmock Web Marketing afloat. The reason? Poor cashflow management. You probably know the term "feast and famine" - that was my business.

 

I've learnt is to embrace two things: a) delayed gratification (if you can't afford it, don't buy it) and b) prepare for lean months by having a reserve account - simply saving 10% of all your income can make a huge difference when the quieter months inevitably occur in your business. 

 

If you need a little help making sure you have a steady supply of client work, I cover that topic here.

 

Another friend of mine, Steve Morgan, covers finding new client work exceptionally well here too.

7) Arguing gets you nowhere. And don't burn bridges, make them

 

Yes, I'm human just like you. And I admit it - in the past, I've (stupidly) gotten myself involved in arguments and disagreements. Yes, with friends, business colleagues and even clients. But the older I've got, the more I've realised that it doesn't pay to burn bridges (of any kind). Just because I have a different opinion to someone else, doesn't make them wrong.

 

I've realised that those I've argued with invariably are just as right and have every right to have their own opinion and perspective. Besides, who (or what) is really ever truly "right" or "wrong"?! Worse still, what I am teaching my 3 kids? If you have kids too, you know exactly what I mean.

 

These insights, from owning and running my own business, aren't ground-breakers. Nor are they new and I'm sure there'll be another 7 lessons (or more) that I'll experience within the next 7 years. But if you're dealing with similar ones to these right now, or some come up in the future, or you've lived through them in your past, I hope my ramblings help you pull through a little.   

 

Find out more about the Dana Lookadoo Memorial Scholarship Fund (Dana's Fund) that's been set up in Dana's memory, "to help truly deserving people gain a strong education in the field of multimedia and digital marketing" - a materialisation of a vision she was passionate about!