When I took the leap from being a pre-school teacher to pursuing my leadership coaching business full-time, I had no idea what to expect. As someone who had a desire to make a difference but had no formal business training, I jumped head first into the world of entrepreneurship. Luckily, my teaching experience and investing four pivotal years in a classroom taught me the mindset, skills, and strategies I needed to prepare me to be a successful business owner. Here are 5 lessons I learned that helped me bridge the gap between being an educator to being an entrepreneur.
- Business (and education) is about serving your customers.
As a leader of your business, it’s essential to understand your client’s needs, challenges, and desires so you can provide products and services to help them. When I was teaching, I took intentional time to learn about each of my students’ personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and their preferred method of learning. By understanding their needs, challenges, and desires, I was able to equip them with the necessary skills to empower them to solve their problems. This has transferred into my leadership coaching, where I can serve my clients best by providing personalized support and resources to guide them to be better leaders of their lives and businesses.
- Content is king.
Creating relevant content to share on social media, your blog, and your email newsletter is like teaching from a compelling curriculum. Organizing helpful information, sharing interesting articles, and engaging with interactions is like using your platform to educate your prospects on how you can help them and why working with you matters. By consistently showing up and providing value, it builds the “Know, Trust, and Like” Factor to become a teacher-like authority in your prospects mind. For example, I share a weekly theme, daily tips on leadership, communication, and productivity, and conversation starters in my Facebook community for Christian women in business, Authentic Brand Leaders. It’s a way to view my marketing efforts as a chance to share my knowledge and expertise that will attract the right people who are ready to work with me.
- Development Has Different Stages
A 5-Year-Old’s stage of development is much different than a 15-year-old’s. Similarly, a baby business has differently developmental needs than a growing empire. It’s important to understand which stage of business you’re in to determine what to focus on. In pre-school, we focused on building the social and academic foundational skills like counting, sorting, and recognizing letter shapes and sounds. In the start-up phase of a business, we can focus on market research, marketing, selling, and creating BEFORE we can think about things like expansion and growing a team. It saves a lot of time (and sanity) when you pick the priorities for the season of business you’re in that’s appropriate to your developmental stage and skill level as an entrepreneur.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
One of my favorite things about working with children is their unquenchable desire to learn new things. But just like you wouldn’t expect a kid to get things exactly right on their first attempt at something new, it’s a good idea to extend yourself the same grace as a budding business owner. It’s important to experiment to see what works and doesn’t work, challenge yourself to do things that may be different than what you’d expect, and allow yourself to fail faster so you can get one step closer to success.
- Work Hard, Play Hard
It’s no secret that little kids have short attention spans. We would focus on working on projects in short chunk of times and balance between “work” and “play.” By focusing on one thing at a time and making time to play, our productivity and engagement increased. As an entrepreneur who has many different roles in business, this skill for “single-tasking” and creating work/life balance has made a huge difference in my approach to getting things done. By understanding the need to work hard and play hard (or do both at the same time), it cultivates the joy you need for the journey of entrepreneurship.
I’m grateful for my experience as a teacher and how it prepared me as a coach and entrepreneur. Whether it’s adopting a child-like curiosity in trying new things, finding opportunities to educate and become an expert in my industry, or growing to the next level, I appreciate the ability to continue to educate, empower, and equip people to grow into their full leadership potential.