Lessons Learned

2013 has been a year of transition and personal transformation.  I have come to understand who I really am as a person and the extent of my resilience.  There have been many lessons learned, challenges overcome, and triumphs celebrated.  I have a new found respect for myself and my journey and as I look ahead to 2014 and the opportunities that have been presented to me, I can’t help but be overwhelmingly positive.  Looking back, I can appreciate the 20/20, but I have to admit, this year has tested me in many different ways -both personally and professionally.

Like many regional businesses, I had to make some important business decisions, gain some clarity, and put things into perspective.  Today, I want to share some lessons learned over the past year:

1) Continually Evaluate Your Business Model and Its Effectiveness.  Make the necessary changes.  Is your current business model relevant to your regions current market conditions?  When our organization was re-branded earlier this year, Design2Decor became our rentals division and PARAS Events became our sole creative services division.  I had to re-evaluate our operations, the client experience, and our methods of client communications.  We elevated our social media strategy and blogging profile.  We analyzed our current market conditions and made the necessary changes to appeal to our target client demographic.  In addition to this, we re-evaluated our marketing methods and put energy into the media and advertising outlets that provided the best return on investment for our business, but more importantly those that personally connected with us and took the time to understand our business and marketing objectives.

2) Be Transparent.  Concentrate on being the best version of you.  This came down to being honest with myself, my clients, and my network.  This blog has become the outlet I use to voice my perspectives on the various issues that are of concern to business owners in the events industry.  This blog remains a true reflection of me and my business.  Being true to myself and who I am as a designer and establishing my ‘signature’ in the industry has been a liberating, eye opening experience.

Life has taught me that the human qualities of being real and being YOU far surpass the ‘smoke and mirrors’.

3) Don’t Allow the Opinions of a Few to Affect Your Self Worth and Your Journey.  This, perhaps, has been my greatest hurdle in 2013.  I wrote about this on the blog earlier this year.  It affected my confidence, my ambition, my enthusiasm for my craft, my passion for events, and consequently my business operations.  I adopted a ‘whatever’ approach to my business operations and the affects slowly began to surface.  This was most apparent in my communications with clients and colleagues whilst affecting my overall sense of being.  I began to shut myself off from everything and everyone as a form of ‘protection’ or ‘shield’.

There will always be criticism.  Someone will always be there to knock you or your ideas down.  You will second guess yourself multiple times.  Turns out, this is a true test of your resilience and ability to persevere.  It feels amazing when you come out the other side feeling like you are on top.  Ten months later, I am a different person.

4) It’s Okay to Fall Down.  We all make mistakes.  This year has been about really learning from my mistakes.  Its not a sign of weakness.  Its the catalyst for future change.

Embracing humility, gratitude, and appreciation was the turning point towards my inner happiness and being at peace with myself.

5) You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone.  Its Okay to Say ‘NO’.  In my effort to please, I took on more than my firm could handle and over extended myself.  The increased workload exhausted me and pushed my staff and suppliers to their limits.

Earlier this year, I blogged about this topic specifically:

I have come to realize that it [saying 'no'] comes from a mindset of ‘missed opportunity’.  We are afraid that if we are not everywhere all the time or everything to everyone we will ‘miss out’.  Whether that means a missed business opportunity or what (at the time) may seem like ‘burning a bridge’.  Like many, I am programmed to please, so saying no makes me feel like I am letting someone down.  It is only over time that I have come to realize that part of the work-life balance is learning to say no when it pushes you to your physical and mental limits.

6) Use Your Voice and Don’t Allow Others to Compromise Your Voice. 

7) Do What Makes YOU Happy.  Take care of yourself.  When I began in the events industry, it was my passion for events and design that got me through the tough hurdles and growing pains of owning a business.  Passion fueled the growth of the business and kept me going.  When it seemed the passion was dying, so did my ability to manage a business and produce events with enthusiasm and efficiency.

I re-visited my business model once again.  I made a list of what I enjoyed about my business and what I felt needed to change to ensure the future success of the business and my health and well-being.  I developed a ‘Strategy for Change’ that we are now beginning to implement at PARAS Events in anticipation of the 2014 events season.

I am very excited about the 2014 events season.  I will be working on some of the largest events of my career and will continue working internationally.  I have prioritized my life and narrowed my focus on what matters the most.  My universe is aligned once more.  This time around, I will be more conscious of the shifts and actually listen to what the universe is telling me.