The Biggest Mistakes I've Seen Small Business Owners Make

5min read

When I sat down to think about the biggest mistakes I've seen small business owners make (including myself), I came up with a laundry list that went on forever, but a few bigger conceptual mistakes REALLY stuck out to me that can encompass all the little ones.

Mistake #1: They give up before they really get started

When I started my network marketing business in 2011, I remember having a great first month. I was SO excited and my energy was through the roof. Then December came and business slowed down and I gave up. After ONE MONTH, I gave up?! I treated my business like a hobby I only did if it was easy. If it was fun and easy, I'd do it. The second it got a little hard, I threw in the towel. I realized pretty quickly that this wasn't going to bring me in consistent income, and sure as heck wasn't going to let me quit my day job. If I was going to build a six and multiple six figure business I had to ACT like a six figure business owner.

Six figure business owners do not give up when they hit a hard patch. They also don't have a "Plan B" or timeline to have success in their business. Sure, we can have goals and benchmarks we'd like to hit, but if we don't hit our goals by that time, do we just throw in the towel and call it quits? No! We evaluate. What went well? What went wrong? How can we change it for next time? We need to start looking at our "mistakes" "failures" and "pitfalls" as learning experiences that we can tweak for next time.

The entrepreneurial roller coaster is REAL, and if we don't mentally prepare ourselves for the tough times, we're going to give up before we even get started. And the funny thing is, we usually have a breakthrough on the other side of a struggle.

My biggest tip for you to bust through these hard times and not make the mistake of giving up too quickly, is to find the FUN in the everyday. What part of your day can you look forward to? What (inside AND outside of your business) can drive you and give you purpose? Those things will keep you going and find joy in the process rather than just focusing on the destination.

Mistake #2: They try to do everything themselves//zone of genius

For the longest time I wore "figuring it all out by myself" as a badge of honor. I didn't think I needed help to build my business. I'd just google everything, save money, and be good. BOY was I WRONG. Not only would that strategy take me FOREVER, but it's really lonely. Being an online entrepreneur can be a very lonely endeavor, ESPECIALLY if you're trying to do it all alone. Investing in coaching and masterminds have not only helped me have more skin in the game and learn how to have success from someone who's already been there, but it's made the entire process so much more FUN.

I have a community of like minded female entrepreneurs who I can go to when business gets tough. My friends outside of entrepreneurship, while amazing, won't always be able to relate to what I'm struggling with within my business, and having women who truly "get it" has made the biggest difference in my business (and sanity and happiness!).

Even if your first step is to join a free community, seek out help in SOME way! I have a great Free Community you can join here.

Mistake #3: They don't have a life outside of business and make their entire identity and happiness dependent on their business

While I absolutely LOVE my business, it is not my entire life. My business GIVES me life. I am forever grateful for it, but if I based my entire worth or identity on my business, I'd be a basket case. As an entrepreneur we're going to face so many ups and downs and if we ride that up and down emotionally every single time, we're going to be a wreck. I have a pretty smooth flowing business and team operating efficiently and we STILL have things "go wrong" every month. It's just the nature of business and the fast changing pace of social media. If something doesn't go as planned, I don't completely freak out and think my life is over. Is my family happy and healthy? Am I happy and healthy? Great. Then I'm good.

Life will happen. And when it does it can be very hard to show up in our business. If we can separate our business from our personal life and plan ahead for times like these, we can have "life happening" without our business crumbling. And vice versa. If we are having a tough point in our business we don't have to let it completely affect our personal life.

Setting boundaries with our business and personal life is going to be HUGE. I personally don't work weekends or after 5PM most days and my clients know and respect that. Setting boundaries (and actually sticking to them) are what's going to help you create that work/life balance that sometimes seem so elusive. I promise you, it's not :) You can have it too!

5 Min Read

Judge Tanya Acker On Overcoming Racial Barriers And Her Rise To The Top

You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.

Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life.

The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.

“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.

Shaping Her Career

Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.

"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.

“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."

After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.

As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.

How Did Acker Become A Judge?

In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."

Judge Acker in white pantsuit with her dog. Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.

Acker's Time Away From Home

Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.

Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."

She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.

“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."

“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."

Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."

Overcoming Racial Barriers

As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.

At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.

Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker

The Power Of Self-awareness

“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."

Know Your Support System

“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."

Learn From Your Experiences

“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.

“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.

Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.

This article was originally published May 15, 2019.