When we bought Natural Plus Nursery, I was naive and knew close to NOTHING about owning and operating a retail and landscaping nursery business. I knew nothing about business in general actually. I come from a health care background, I went to school for Occupational Therapy and before I met Dave I thought I was going to be an Occupational Therapist for the rest of my life.
Well, things have changed and I’m happy to report I really love being a business owner. I love learning about all things business, and how our business runs is really interesting to me. It hasn’t always been this way, in fact, this is the first year where I’ve found some confidence and really stepped into the role of business ownership. Until this year, I felt like I was faking it. I still don’t claim to know it all, however I am much more confident.
Here are 5 things I did to empower myself as a business owner:
I took classes to help me learn. Before we signed the papers for the nursery, we took the Launch and Grow class offered through the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at NIACC. I’m so glad we took the time to take this class, it forced us to write a business plan, and learn the business “lingo.” It was also a great place to network and we still use the Pappajohn center as a resource and for networking.
I hired people to help me with the things I didn’t know or didn’t want to do. This is a big one. For more years than I would like to admit, I didn’t know what the reports in my Quickbooks meant. Pull up a P&L statement? Sure, where do I find it and what does it mean? I was embarassed to admit that I didn’t know these things, and was too afraid to ask someone to show me (because then they would know for sure I was an imposter!)
Here’s a quick story about this. A little over a year ago, Quickbooks desktop stopped syncing with my quickbooks payroll, and it was either update to the online version of quickbooks, or create a lot more manual work for me each week. I drug my feet on this as long as I could, but finally one day, hit the HELP button in quickbooks and searched for someone local that could help me. Turns out, the first name the came up was my friend Liz. She came to my house and helped me make the transition, step by step, walking me through it, and answering my questions along the way. She was so patient with me. I liked her so much, I had her come back each month to show me a few more things in my quickbooks and make sure things were cleaned up and that I was doing things right. In a way, I became addicted to the feeling of understanding and empowerment I was getting from our meetings. It’s been over a year, and I still rely on Liz to help, but to a much less degree.
I can’t believe the time working with her has saved me over the last year, teaching me how to use my quickbooks program. I log in to my quickbooks daily, and love seeing the numbers, because now I actually understand what they mean and know they are accurate! Tax time is a breeze, and I feel like we are planning ahead now, instead of always trying to catch up. I love it so much, I decided to get my Quickbooks Online Certification and now I’m a “pro” and can help others with their books as well. (If you’re interested in learning more about what I can offer, click HERE.)
I taught myself. In order to feel confident about something I need to know as much as I can about it. I’m an information NERD. I love to read, and I’ve read a lot of books about business and marketing, and money mindset, but even more I love listening to podcasts from other women killing it in business. I learn constantly, I would say I am a knowledge sponge. I listen to podcasts when I’m folding laundry, cleaning my house, driving, and walking. Some of my favorite podcasts are Jenna Kutcher’s The Goal Digger, Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy and Rachel Hollis’s Rise Podcast.
I decided to believe in myself (and us!) and trust that we were the only ones who truly know our business and what is in line with our family values. When we took over, we knew that we didn’t want to run the business the same way my in laws did (many landscaping crews and lots of landscaping jobs.) It felt overwhelming to manage and very stressful. The first few years we did do things a lot like they did, but over the course of 6 years, we have scaled back the landscaping portion of our business significantly. Although it’s not perfect we have made it much more manageable for us.
At the beginning we were told by many that we would never make it as just a retail nursery, we NEEDED the income from the landscaping jobs to keep our business going year round. Turns out, the less landscaping we do, the more profit our business is showing. It proves to me that we are on the right track, and also that we are the only ones that can truly decide if this is going to work for us or not.
Another part of this “believing in myself” came from letting go of perfection. I adopted the philosophy that done is better then perfect. If I wanted to do something, I accepted the fact that I would not be able to know everything about it and it would definitely not be perfect the first time that I did it, but that if I just did it, I would learn while I was going and could make it better as time went on. Getting over the “analysis paralysis” has moved me forward in so many things.
I found a “community” with fellow business owners. I have reached out and forget connections with other business owners in North Iowa. We rely on each other to share our hardships and triumphs, we bounce ideas off each other and we cheer each other on. In my instance, these business owners are women. We can be understanding of each other and how our businesses intertwine with being a mom, a wife, and a woman. For myself personally, I reached out to 3 friends and created a “tribe,” based on the book A Tribe Called Bliss by Lori Harder. Having a group of women who never judge, only support and continually show up for each other has helped me forgive myself for things, and also dive deeper in to who I am and how I show up in my relationships. We have a “meeting” every other week and discuss topics from the book and life, and their input is so valuable to me, it helps me see things in my life from a different perspective.
I would say this #4, belief in myself and us, is what changed and empowered me the most, but all of these things have contributed to empowerment as a business owner. I have heard many business owners say being “the boss” can be very lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Find your tribe, find the people that understand and can help you through, and also find power and strength in knowledge. If something in your business makes your tummy hurt, or you’ve been avoiding it, that’s when you know you need to dive head first in to it, ask for help, and just do it.
Now, do you feel empowered or what?