What I’ve Learned After Five Years In Business

OMG…We made it five years!!

I can’t believe February marks the fifth anniversary of J Shea. Or rather, I should say J Shea Consulting, J Shea Events, and J Shea Styling….sheesh we’ve been through some changes! Let’s just agree I’m the perfect example of a business owner that took her time figuring out what her business was going to be. And ya know what? 

That’s ok. Deep down, I always knew what I wanted. I love design, creativity, events and fashion. Explaining all of my services to people at the beginning proved to be challenging, so I created two separate company names: J Shea Events and J Shea Styling.

Even so, it was still confusing to many. It took time. Time to prove my capabilities and talents—not just to others, but also to myself—and time to really understand how style relates to so many things. So last fall I combined it all together in my rebrand to be “J Shea, styling events & individuals.”  #itsabouttime

The Importance of Failing

Someone once told me, “You haven’t tried, until you’ve failed,” and if that ain’t the truth?! I love sharing my stories about owning a business with people and hearing their experiences in return. While success stories are inspirational, the failures are just as important—as are the lessons learned from them. As a business owner, or even just as a person in business, that’s all you can do. Learn from your mistakes and do better the next time, a lesson I learned at a very young age as a football coach’s daughter. (Thank you Dad!)

After getting through my first year in business, I made it a personal goal to constantly evolve, try new things and look to improve year after year, which has 100% helped shape what J Shea is today and will be moving forward.

Triumphing Over Doubt

I’ve also experienced a lot of self-doubt throughout the years. When you are your own boss, a CEO, and THE decision-maker for multiple clients, it’s so easy to wonder if what you’re doing is right, or best, or in my head, perfect. The number of times I would change my mind, doubt my decisions and usually have no one but my family to consult—when many have no clue what I really do or what it means (love you guys though!)—is staggering. When it’s you at the top, it’s easy to feel lonely and question ev-er-y-thing.

I’m sure many of you reading this can relate because it’s so easy to overthink things. It’s taken time to truly believe in my talent and what I can do for others to better their own lives and businesses.

The point is this: for anyone looking to branch out on your own, or who has already done so for a few years now, take my advice and give yourself a break. Entrepreneurship is hard and unlike anything else in the world of business. (But in the most amazing, self-fulfilling kind of way.)

Defining Success Beyond the Bank Account

I don’t make a million dollars, but I sure feel like I do. The beginning of 2017 is the first new year in my life that I don’t have an endless list of things I could do better, or differently, both personally and professionally. I’m at that place where J Shea is a successful business with a solid direction that continues to grow each and every year. My kids are at ages, three and one, where they can sit and play on their own and leave me the heck alone while I whip up some dinner. AND…we are building a big ‘ole home in Aldie, Virginia (or what I simply call “Virginia wine country”) in April! It just feels really good and like all of that crazy-hard work has paid off.

And while I’m not a millionaire (yet…don’t get me wrong, J Shea will expand once I get through the “having babies” portion of my life), I feel like I am. I attribute success to few very simple mottos that I follow:

  1. Don’t just talk about it, be about it. If you want to have a business of your own, you are the only one that can make it happen. Make a business plan, write down ideas, and create a timeline of how you can make your dream a reality. You  may have to work at night and on the weekends while keeping your current job, but it will be worth it. (P.S. I’m happy to bounce around ideas with anyone who wants an ear.)
  2. Make change when change is needed. If you’re unhappy in your current job, or need to find something of your own to do other than take care of your kiddos, do the work to make that change. Your happiness matters and it affects every aspect of your life and those who are in it.
  3. Enjoy life and what it has to give because it is so short. Stop waiting for the “right time.” There’s NEVER a perfect time for anything, so start working toward your goal today and don’t settle.

Is that enough clichés for you?!? But seriously, it’s because of these ideas that my life is truly rich and I’m so thankful. Here’s to the next five years. Years of evolving, failing, doing, succeeding, and continuing “a life of happy.”

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