5 Lessons I Learned My First Year of Business

Learned First Year of Business

Wow, a year in business already!! My, my, my how time has flown on by. Today, January 4th not only marks my 33rd Birthday but my One Year Anniversary of T. Smiles Design, Inc. I still remember like it was yesterday, palms sweating with making my website live, my first client consultation call, the booking and my first “YOU JUST GOT PAID” email. I can’t believe I’m going on my 2nd year but I’m super excited to take what I learned last year and apply it this year.

My year in business honestly had its ups and downs. I experienced my first difficult client and beat myself up about it. I questioned my value as a designer and wanted to quit because I wasn’t confident I measured up. June of last year I had not one client, no bookings at all. It was the slowest month for me, mainly due to my lack of engagement. I picked myself up then from September to December I went from being fully booked to overbooked, to extremely overbooked and cramming to meet deadlines.

I could give you the longest list of things I learned my first year, but to not make this blog post extremely long, I’m providing you with my top 5  lessons I learned within my first year of business. I truly hope this list helps someone.


1.)    Time Management is IMPORTANT

If you don’t have one already for 2018, purchase a planner. This is the one I purchased from Amazon for this year and I LOVE IT.

It’s important to schedule your days, weeks, months as much as you can. You have to write down everything and plan accordingly. Plan your time for your business, work that in with your clients/customers. It could be an hour a day or one day a week. But make sure you plan to do the administrative work for your business such as planning social media posts, budgeting, etc. Also, schedule your breaks, your meetings, phone calls, etc. When I became over booked, I felt like I had to stop tending to my business which was a HORRIBLE MISTAKE. Just as if you’re doing for everyone else, you have to make sure you’re doing for yourself.


2.)    BUDGET – have your finances in order

If it wasn’t for PayPal and Wave Apps I wouldn’t know how much money I made in 2017. Honestly, I didn’t budget at all. If I wasn’t reinvesting the money into my business, I was spending it. I had the mindset of “side hustle.” See a “side hustle” will always be your side hustle if you carry that mindset. You have to see it as a BUSINESS, and businesses budget. I came across this awesome article recently on breaking down the budget for your business.


I don’t entirely follow the percentages exactly (I switched it up a bit) but let me tell you it feels so awesome to see how I can save and still pay myself accordingly.


3.)    Invest in yourself –

Learn and become a master at your craft – Everyone starts a business because they’re good at something, went to school for something, etc. But just because the business is booming doesn’t mean there’s not more to learn. Always invest in more knowledge. Become a master of skills. Listen to podcasts, take notes, read a book, watch YouTube tutorials, attend conferences, network with more successful people, there’s so much out in the world to learn, don’t stop, always invest in yourself to become better at what you were yesterday.


4.)    If it scares you, take the risk –

I remember when I was approached to speak at a Women’s Conference last year and my response was “no, thank you.” I felt like I wasn’t ready and maybe I’d be ready in another year or two. Honestly, thank God this client PUSHED me beyond my fears. With that risk, I received so many compliments on my first speech and walked away feeling confident in my abilities. Fear is good, it means growth, so never miss an opportunity to grow.


5.)     Network outside of social media –

So posting online to gain clients is fine, through your followers you may gain a few clients or so but honestly networking outside of social media is key. Make it a goal to network at a few events around your community, be a vendor or participate in an event that benefits your community. Networking show up this year and gain more clients on top of your social media clients.

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to T. Smiles Design, Inc.!!! Remember it's not about being perfect within your business but riding the waves, learning from them and keeping it going. 

All Smiles,


Tiffany :-)