The idea for City Girl Savings first came into my head in 2013, and I’ve never looked back. While I started thinking about all City Girl Savings could become in 2013, it took all of 2014 to put the pieces in place. The business/blog/community/whatever you want to call it launched January 1, 2015. What a journey it has been. There are plenty of lessons learned after 4 years in business, and I want to share them with you.

years in business

Where it started

I’ve been asked how I thought of the idea for City Girl Savings, and it came down to where I was in my own life. I was living paycheck to paycheck in Los Angeles, CA for a few years, then got to a point where I was saving a little bit…nothing life changing.

Not too much longer after that point of saving regularly, my father was killed by a drunk driver. I moved back to Austin, Texas to help with everything. I kept my job from CA when I moved. A few months after moving back, I was stunned at how much further my money had taken me.

I had a budget that was working. I had minimal expenses because I moved back home. My close friends were in other cities so I didn’t go out much. All I could do was work and save money. When my debt was paid off and my bank account was higher than ever, I thought about how I could help other women do the same.

I have a degree in finance, so it was always an easier topic for me, but I knew that wasn’t the case for everyone. How could I make finance fun so women would want to budget and live a life they enjoyed? City Girl Savings was the answer.

Fast forward to now, and I’m approaching the end of my 4th year in business. I’ve learned so much along the way, and I’m excited to share those lessons with you! If you want to know more about why I started City Girl Savings, read My Start-Up Story: Why I Started City Girl Savings.

Lessons Learned After 4 Years in Business

#1 Be open to change

What I thought City Girl Savings was going to be in the beginning, and what it has turned out to be now are two totally different things. My business hub (the website/blog) has changed. My business model has changed. My pricing has changed. My branding has changed. My clientele has changed. Everything is different.

But guess what? That’s 100% okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Because I have been open to change the whole time, things have worked out in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. Because I have been open to change, my true path has been made clear to me.

This is the one lesson I would like every business owner, side hustler, or career person to keep in mind. Embrace change. Be open to change. There’s nothing wrong with diverting the course, especially if things look better or are clearer on the new path.

Here’s a screenshot of what the original CGS homepage used to look like! 😐

#2 Get ahead to stay ahead

Considering that I started my business when I already had a full-time job, the lesson of get ahead to stay ahead was a powerful one! When you’re in the starting stages of your business, you can’t completely rely on consistent income (I couldn’t, at least). That made having a full-time job a good move for me, but it meant I could only work on my business at select times.

I would leverage nights and weekends to knock out all of my business tasks, and some. This allowed me to stay ahead when things got busy at my full-time job, or in my personal life. There had been instances where I figured I could wing it, and balls were dropped. That’s a terrible feeling because there’s no one else to blame but yourself.

Use your time wisely to get the most important things done as early as possible. It can make a huge difference when things get busy and you know the must-dos are already done!

#3 Grind through the slow times

My first sale in business came August 2015. That is a whole 8 months since the business launched. And, I made a whopping $10 from that sale! I certainly had forecasted and expected to be more profitable than I was, but I didn’t let it stop me from pushing through.

In business, there are a lot of financial ups and downs. Months where you exceed expectations and months where you are way below expectations. You can’t let this stop or discourage you though. You must grind through the slow times. They say most start-ups don’t see profit until 3-5 years into their business.

I’m happy to have had my wake-up call early on. It has made the past four years easier to deal with the rollercoasters for business income. Being passionate about what I do makes it much more bearable as well.

#4 You never know when the next sale can happen

To piggy back off of lesson #3, you never know when the next sale can happen. There have been plenty of times where I forecasted my income and an extra sale came in and through my forecast off. Trust me, this is a good thing! It just means that you should always stay positive and keep working hard.

Your income goal for the month could be $2000 and it all comes in the last week of the month. Had you let a lack of sales in the first 3 weeks of the month get you down, it would’ve been for nothing! As long as you are putting the right pieces in place, the sales will come.

#5 Don’t be afraid to let go of some responsibility

I’m a full-on perfectionist. In my eyes, no one is going to do as good of work as I can. However, that’s not the right way to think, nor is it true! I’ve had to learn to let go of some responsibility and hand off tasks to people who are better at them than I am.

Just because I let go of the responsibility doesn’t mean I let go of the oversight. I can always see what’s happening, even if I’m not in the weeds. Letting go of tasks that weren’t helping me get to the next level was such a game changer. It allowed me to focus on the things that help move my business forward. It also freed up time on tedious tasks.

You know those tasks…the ones that have to get done, but they don’t have to get done by you! They take up time and they don’t have a direct drive on business growth. Administrative work, social media posting, and blog article writing are a few of those tasks for my business.

I thought I couldn’t afford to outsource those tasks, until I just did it. What a game changer. I’m thankful for all the podcasts I’ve listened to that say you’ll never regret hiring someone to help free up your plate. They were right.

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#6 No one will love your business like you do

I learned this lesson the hard way. I started City Girl Savings with the idea that a few key people would help build the business with me. They fell by the wayside, and at the worst times. When the work started, they couldn’t quite cut it. It showed me that no one will love my business like me.

Now, that doesn’t mean that people can’t be hired to help your business (as we learned in the lesson above). It simply means that no one will take it as seriously as you. No one will work through the night like you. No one will promote it as hard as you. People will get on board with your business, but not quite like you.

#7 Try new things to get different results

When I first started City Girl Savings, I didn’t set out to be a budget coach. My original business model was to create budget plans and make money through partnerships and affiliate programs. After a year, I had created a budget for a client and she asked me how she can follow it. The numbers looked great on paper, but she didn’t have the self-accountability to follow through. She became my first coaching client.

Sales weren’t all that great, so taking on coaching clients seemed like a great thing to do. I never would have thought about it, had she not asked the question. Now, coaching is the number one income source in my business! It taught me that you have to do new things if you want new results.

Being open to change can help with this lesson. If you’re open to change, you have no problem trying different things and seeing what works. These lessons go hand and hand and help set your business up for success.

#8 Invest in your knowledge and growth

Similar to thinking I couldn’t afford to hire someone, I thought I couldn’t afford to invest in my business education. I would skip conferences or workshops that had a hefty price tag. I wouldn’t purchase an online course, even though I really needed it. I would tell myself I’ll purchase it later.

Those actions did two things. First, those actions put out into the universe that I had a scarcity mindset. I thought I couldn’t afford it; therefore, I really couldn’t afford it. Second, those actions were counteracting what I wanted. I wanted clients to pay for my workshops. I wanted clients to purchase my online courses. I wanted those things but I couldn’t do those things. How is that fair?

Once I started investing in my business knowledge and growth, I started seeing growth in my business. Thinking about it now, it’s like duh! 😊 Obviously, if I’m paying for knowledge that isn’t easily accessible, I can implement what I learned and use it to promote my own growth. That’s exactly what I did and what I continue to do.

#9 Always remember your why

The lesson of always remembering your why is similar to grinding through the slow times, but it’s so much bigger than that. Your why will help you grind through the slow times, but it will also guide you when you feel lost.

Your why can help you accept or decline business opportunities that align or don’t align to it. Your why can help you stay positive through the trying times that come with any business. Your why keeps you going because you know exactly what you’re working for – and it’s worth the work.

#10 There’s enough for everyone

I touched on scarcity mindset above, but it’s so much more than thinking you aren’t able to afford something. A scarcity mindset means you don’t share any knowledge for free. It means you think everyone in your field or industry is your competition. It means you’ll never have enough.

The opposite of a scarcity mindset is an abundance mindset. An abundance mindset means there’s enough business for everyone. It means you can share your knowledge and still grow your business. It means you will always have enough.

Over the course of the 4 years since my business launched, I’ve seen a shift in my thinking. I did have a scarcity mindset in the beginning, but I’ve opened my mind and started believing I was abundant. This led to more sales, more connections in my field, and more clients.

There is always enough to go around, so practice gratitude and be open to helping others.

Related: 30 Money Lessons I Learned by 30

 

Well there you have it. The 10 top lessons I’ve learned after 4 years in business. I hope that my lessons help you as you start your own business or grow in whatever you decide to do. There is so much self-knowledge to be obtained when you do new things! Do you have any questions for me? If so, post a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

-Raya
The CGS Team

Raya ReavesFounder; Financial Consultant