Six Lessons Learned Through Three Years in Business


It’s hard to believe that this month marks three years since I took the leap and started Workable Wealth. What started off as the scariest move of my life has transformed into one of the best. I by no means claim to know it all and fully admit that it’s still (and may always be) a work in progress, but it’s been amazing to see what hard work and dedication can turn into and the lives that can be impacted when you pursue your passion and desire to help others. It’s been a wonderful few years with opportunities and experiences that I never would have imagined coming my way from appearing on the news, becoming a spokesperson, being interviewed by publications like Glamour, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, to writing a book, to being named as one of the financial planning industry’s 40 Under 40 and Top 10 Young Advisors to Watch. That’s not to say that there haven’t been lessons learned and mistakes made. I’ve definitely failed more times than I’ve been successful, but that (as I’m also learning) is a part of the journey. I used to view failure as an ending point. Now I view it as a pivot-point and an opportunity to ask, “what’s next”?

With that in mind, here are six lessons I’ve learned throughout three years in business:

It can’t be all hustle all the time.

In a time where everyone is being told to hustle and double or triple down on their efforts on a daily basis, I’m here to say that it’s not sustainable. It’s not so much about hustle as it is about working smart.  I’ve hustled and I’ve double down. And I’m sure like many people, I’ve burnt the heck out. Hustling all day every day doesn’t make sense. When we work under the assumption that success is just around the corner and an arms length out of reach, not only are we distorting the reality of the work that goes into building a successful enterprise, but we’re also doing a disservice to ourselves by focusing too much mental energy on what we don’t have instead of what we do. Working smarter allows us to put our time and efforts towards their highest and best use. It allows us delegate tasks to those who can complete them more effectively and efficiently, to put systems in place and to remember to make time for our own self-care.

You will fall in and out of love with your business on a daily basis.

If this isn’t a committed relationship, I don’t know what is. The range of emotions experienced in a matter of minutes, hours, days and years have been wide and varying. Exhaustion, elation, fear, thrill, apprehension and more can happen in a single day before your morning coffee is finished. But instead of phoning or texting in a break up message or walking away, you stick with it. You stick with it because of love and passion. You’re in this for the long haul and while the emotions still vary on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, your questioning or yourself becomes more diminished. You’ve been at it longer, things are growing and you love the clients and people you work with.  By the three year mark, you certainly know enough to see whether or not the service or product you’re providing is what people want and you’ve determined if it’s worth the sacrifice.

It does not matter what everyone else is doing or earning.

It’s likely that by three years in, you won’t be able to count the number of rabbit holes you’ve fallen down comparing yourself to others. You’ll measure yourself against their success, their numbers, their experiences and their stories. Unfortunately it’s a complete waste of time.  Even if you’re in the same industry selling the same thing as these people, comparing yourself and getting wound up in the anxiety and stress of where you “should” be is simply unproductive. Not only for the reasons that what we see online and on social media are highlight reels, but also because you very likely bring something completely different to the table than they do. You’re unique and by wishing and wanting after the best version you see of someone online, you’re very likely going after something that’s not real. Comparing yourself to a two minute video or one paragraph post with a filtered picture doesn’t allow you to see the disagreements, the bad days, the the net numbers, the bills, the account balances or the down time.

Systems are key to success.

Systems are necessary, period. For client / customer acquisition and follow up, for marketing, social media management, content management, relationship management, e-mail, onboarding, and more. Clear and documented systems are needed in order for you to grow. You need to be able to train employees and they need to be able to free up your time. Investing the time to document processes is an investment in the future of your business and it’s one that’s worth it.

Find your tribe.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. You need mentors to learn from, a mastermind or peer group to bounce ideas off of, a friend or significant other to offer support when you’re feeling down, and a community of people who are benefiting from the service or product you’re providing. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely experience if you let it be. Making the effort to connect with others, whether virtually or in person will help to lift you up on the down days and give you open and honest feedback when you need it most.

Change is good in doses.

In a time when a new productivity app is being released every day and the iPhone is on version 24.5 , it’s easy to get side-tracked exploring all of the things that are supposed to make our lives and businesses run smoother. With technology evolving at an increasingly advanced pace, it’s hard to stay ahead of the curve and it isn’t always necessary. Find the systems that work for your business and stick with them. Evaluate (or better yet, delegate evaluating) your systems on an annual basis and pick two or three options only to explore. By constantly switching platforms and systems, you’re taking time away from actually doing the work and building a business that clients and customers can become familiar with and trust. I know there are about 1,007 other things that I’ve learned throughout this journey, but none is more important than simply being and providing the best value and service you can to your clients and customers. I 100% love the people that I get to work with and serve. I consider many of them friends and have zero problem sharing pieces of my story with them because I’m so honored that they trust me with a part of theirs. Tallying up the amount of debt my clients have knocked out, how much they’ve stashed away for the future, the number of new homes that have been purchased since I’ve started and the college funds that have been opened for a little one’s future make each day, whether good or bad, so incredibly worth it. Here’s to the next 3.. (or 30) years! P.S. If you love a good birthday sale, you can grab my book, Work Your Wealth: Steps to Making Smarter Choices With Your Money on Kindle for just $3.00 right now!

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP® is an author, speaker, and financial coach who takes a fun, no-nonsense approach in working with individuals and couples across the country, helping them make smart choices with their money.

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