Last week I officially hit 3 years in business as Captain Coder!
When I started Captain Coder in the middle of a pandemic, I had a pretty strong vision for what I wanted to create.
But the reality of running a business is that things are going to change.
I’m not sure any business grows exactly how the founders imagined it from the start.
Whether you’ve just started on your own entrepreneurial journey or you’ve been doing this awhile, you’re going to find new things that surprise you all of the time.
For me, some of the biggest things I’ve learned revolve around my mindset. It’s crazy to think about, but changing how I viewed things took me from struggling to building a six-figure business.
Let’s dive into three mindset shifts I’ve had to make to create the business I always wanted (and that are going to help me keep pushing forward).
Your Business is Going to Shift
I want you to think back to the first time you got serious about starting your business. You knew what service you were going to provide, how you were going to do it better than everyone else, and maybe even who you wanted to work with most.
That initial excitement of creating a business can be almost intoxicating.
The day-to-day reality of actually running that business, making sales, scaling it, and deciding on a long-term vision?
That can feel like a lot you weren’t prepared for.
Captain Coder was originally supposed to be a glorified freelance agency. I’d work with a select few clients, by myself, and focus mostly on websites.
While some of that is still true, my business has grown in ways I didn’t expect. Much of that is because my clients have dictated changes, showing me the gaps in what I was offering and what they actually needed.
But some of that was learning that I wasn’t creating a business, I was creating another stressful job.
How did I get out of that rut and start moving toward a business that’s actually scalable?
I had to make some serious attitude adjustments.
You Need a Trusted Person to Bounce Ideas Off Of
Before I had Captain Coder, I had built a business with a partner. I’d worked in marketing since I was 18, serving both as an in-house employee, at agencies, and as a freelancer so I had a lot of experience in the world.
Very long toxic story short, my partner seemed to value my experience when we started the business but quickly didn’t like anything that wasn’t her idea.
When I chose to leave the agency I’d helped build and go off on my own, I really wanted to go off on my own.
I didn’t want to rely on anyone else and I wanted very badly to build what I wanted to build. Not what someone else was dictating for me.
My first year in business was fine, but I wasn’t growing as rapidly as I had hoped.
Fast forward to April of 2022 when I brought Erin on. She immediately helped to get the ideas out of my head, onto paper, and into something that I could action.
Crazy concept for someone who had been struggling to work on her business rather than in it.
A couple of months later, I took a huge leap and brought on a business coach. Not only did I find an amazing friend in Pete, but I had someone who had built an agency before that could help me think through the gaps, provide encouragement, and help get me out of my own head.
Suddenly, I had two incredible people that I could talk out ideas with, flesh them out into something realistic, and continue to build my business.
Here’s the crazy thing – my business skyrocketed after bringing both of them into my world and we’ve had consistent growth ever since.
A Team is Invaluable
Remember how I said I wanted to make Captain Coder a glorified freelance agency?
I got COVID in November 2020 and had a hard time delivering for my clients. I couldn’t really take the sick time because I had no backup and yet I basically almost died.
I signed a couple of large clients a few months later and I was working crazy hours trying to keep up. I was also bouncing around, unable to focus on what I needed to really get my business to work for me not me for it.
I had been toying with the idea of hiring some help for a while but I was seriously worried about having any kind of contractor. They couldn’t possibly do it “as well as me” right?
One day on a walk, I was listening to a podcast, and all of a sudden I got a very clear idea of what a junior developer could help me with.
It took me a few weeks, but soon I had Nicole on my team.
She started small and was the best person that I could possibly have brought on. Her patience with my reluctance to pass things on and thinking I had to do it all was invaluable.
Nicole has been with me for almost two years and is now a full-time employee and she’s transitioning into taking over most of the development projects we have in the company.
It’s nearly impossible to build a real, profitable business completely on your own. I now have 3 people on the team with me, and each one of these incredible women has stepped up to help me create a business that works for me and our clients.
But the crazy part? Investing in people hasn’t drained my revenue, my time, or my expertise. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Because I have a team, my business has grown. I was able to take my first real vacation in 6 years and my team kept everything running smoothly while I was gone. I work less than 40 hours per week. And I’m able to focus much more of my attention on working on the business instead of in it.
Only You Can Build Your Ideal Business
I think the biggest challenge we all have in starting a business is wanting to find the shortcut to make it work.
It’s all too easy to get sucked into those shiny Facebook ads that tell you this blueprint helped this business owner hit $10K months and you can have the exact same results if you just follow their process.
Or you hear other experts claim they can get you thousands of Instagram followers if you just do this thing.
The problem with all of that?
Only you can build your ideal business.
Don’t get me wrong – these frameworks and processes can be a great starting point. They can provide you with ideas you may never have considered before or act as a placeholder for that trusted person when you can’t afford that kind of help.
Unfortunately, no two businesses are alike. What worked for one person won’t necessarily work for you.
You can also get caught up in trying all of the different hacks and tricks and shortcuts and forget to create a business that actually works for you and your clients.
Over the years, I’ve listened to countless podcast episodes, read tons of blogs, watched videos, and attended conferences. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of constantly learning and trying to follow someone else’s path.
The only right way to build your business, however, is what’s best for you.
Your business won’t feel like yours, won’t feel like your dream if you follow someone else’s vision too closely.
You can also get caught up in all the conflicting ideas and literally get nowhere.
Instead of chasing the next great idea, focus on what’s best for you and your customers.
Use those resources as a jumping-off point, but remember – if 10,000 other people can download that same asset at the same time, then it’s not really customized for your needs.
Scaling a Business is in How You Think
I’m not sure if you asked me when I created my first website for Captain Coder and kicked off my business that I would’ve believed anyone who told me that success was deeply rooted in my mindset, but I do now.
One of the hardest parts about running a business is that everything falls to you. You have to make the decisions, you have to get the sales, you have to pay the bills.
How you think about all of that can really make or break whether you create a business that can give you a full-time income, get past your first year, or get to six figures and more.
But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in the last three years is that none of us could really do this alone.
It’s totally OK to ask for help when you need it and that help is the key to creating a business that scales.