It’s finally here. The 10-year anniversary of Stellar Communications Houston. (Cue the balloons and confetti!) I’ve been giddy with anticipation.

What a ride it’s been. As with any business or book venture, I’ve learned some worthwhile lessons along the way. So in honor of 10 years, here are 10 lessons learned.

1. Mentors are worth it. It was a single mom making a living as a corporate editor who encouraged me 10 years ago to enter the industry. Mentors pave the way for us and demonstrate what’s possible. Find a fellow author or professional who will share tips and prepare you for the journey.

2. Hunger is a great driver. When I launched my business, I didn’t have the luxury of feeling fear or insecurity – I had limited resources and time to make it happen. I’m thankful for that beginning. It blessed me with a determination that I may not have otherwise and that continues to drive me to get better at what I do. Hold on to your hunger, and it let it propel you to achieve beyond what you think is possible.

3. Discipline makes things happen. I’ve shown up every day, even in the early, lean years when there was no work, and then I worked on my business instead. There are always avenues to consider and improvements to make. Book marketing requires the same business mindset. Commit to a goal, and then show up every day to make it happen.

4. Curiosity opens opportunities. I was a business editor when a publisher approached me to consider the world of books – and what a fulfilling world it has proven to be. Today, I enjoy the diversity of both business communications and nonfiction book publishing, thanks to that serendipitous invitation. Remain curious and explore new opportunities.

5. Word of mouth wins. “Forget advertising,” a business coach said early on. “Invest in the people you already know.” He was right. Forty referral rewards later, I’ve come to count on people I know to introduce me to people they know. Leverage your existing network – it’s more valuable than you think.

6. Document, document, document. It took me some time, but I finally grasped the importance of documenting all data, including contacts, efforts, and results. From the documentation emerged mailing lists of people with whom I want to be in touch, timesheets that inform the fair pricing of projects, and sales information that reveal areas on which to focus. The more you document, the more you can measure your progress and meet your goals.

7. Gut instincts are great advisors. I have the best clients, and I love to see them happy, which is why I was heartbroken when a relationship with a client didn’t have a satisfying conclusion. I had ignored my gut instincts in the first meeting and realized later that it wasn’t a good fit. Your book will be around for your lifetime, so be sure to partner with people who align with your values and vision.

8. Small wins are worth celebrating. My big 10-year celebration is made up of thousands of small celebrations. The first time a client gave me a thumbs-up. The first time I landed a large corporate contract. The first time – every time – that authors hold their books. We may have big goals, but it’s the smaller milestones that get us there and that deserve the recognition. Be thankful for each small win.

9. It’s all about relationships. I cherish my clients, appreciate my team members, and adore my family. My mission may be about books and business communication, but I’ve learned that my bigger aim is really about bringing joy and clarity to the world. Keep your eyes on the bigger picture and foster connection.

10. Faith is everything. I saved this one for last because it’s my most important. For this former atheist, faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation on which this business has been possible. Through Jesus, God has changed me and shaped my identity, purpose, and direction. He brings meaning to me and my work and has made all things possible. I am eternally grateful. All the glory goes to Him!

Thank you for being part of the celebration. Here’s to the next 10 years!

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