9 business lessons from 9 years of Mi-PA
Well, I can’t believe it’s been nine years already. It seemed like only yesterday when I set up Mi-PA as a limited company and made my first steps into the world of business.
What a journey it’s been. There have been highs and lows, like any business owner would expect. But along the way, I’ve learned so much about myself, how to run a business and how Mi-PA can support entrepreneurs, like you, to free up time and grow your business.
Rather than give you a potted history of Mi-PA, I thought it would be more useful to share with you nine key business lessons I’ve learned from nine years of Mi-PA.
Along the way, I’ve met some wonderful people, worked with some fabulous customers and been empowered by many of the connections I’ve made and so I hope I can pass along just a little to help in your business.
Here we go…!
1.“You’re responsible for your environment”
When I worked as an office junior in my very first job, I was so scared of my boss. She was horrible to me and treated me badly. Although the experience wasn’t nice for my first experience of working life, I learned a lesson I’ve carried through to my business life about treating everyone in the workspace respectfully.
You can’t expect people to perform to the best of their abilities and fulfil their potential if you don’t help lift them up. They have to rise as well, and it’s your responsibility to put everything in place so they’re able to. That’s why I’m really proud of the environment we have at Mi-PA. My team strives to do everything they can for our customers and I know my support and praise is important in making sure our reputation goes from strength to strength.
2. “Make yourself indispensable to your customers”
My very first PA job was helping out a high profile entrepreneur. Although it was only me I ended up working for him for three years. The key was to make sure I understood what he needed before he needed it. I almost became a mind-reader.
And that’s what we try to do at Mi-PA once we really understand your business. It’s a philosophy I’ve brought with me. I’m super-determined that when we work with our fab customers, we become an indispensable part of their team so they can’t imagine life without us.
3. “There is ALWAYS a way to get something done”
It was working for the same client that showed me how much having a good PA or team to support you can help you stay at the top of your game and have time to think when you work in a high pressure business. One of the most valuable lessons he taught me was no matter how big the problem you faced, there was always a way to achieve what you were looking for. Sometimes you just had to think differently.
This not only changed my personal beliefs but it also gave me a mindset which I have passed to my team. There is ALWAYS a way and we love tackling a seemingly impossible task. (Go on, throw us a challenge… I dare you!)
4. “Happy people create great experiences”
There were times before setting up Mi-PA when I worked in teams that were very unhappy. Too much pressure, too much responsibility and not enough care in hiring the team. On top of this our employer spoke to us badly, didn’t recognise the value we brought and treated us poorly. These were ingredients for an unhappy bunch. No prizes for guessing what happened… the team didn’t perform and he didn’t get the best from us.
When your team is struggling, how can you really expect to deliver a great service to the customer? That’s why I love my team and lavish them with all the praise they deserve, little gifts and surprises. Especially Ralph.
5. “The more you learn, the stronger you’ll grow”
It was on 1st March 2008 that Mi-PA came into existence as a limited company. For the first four years, it was just me plugging away at building the business. I was aware of where I wanted to go, but didn’t think I had the skills. That’s why I became a prolific reader to discover how to network and learn about marketing and how to grow my business.
You can learn to be entrepreneurial. I’m not a natural Richard Branson, but I’ve put a lot of graft into developing an entrepreneurial mindset. That’s why I have a terrible Amazon Prime habit. Seriously, I’m addicted to a cheeky 1-Click order. Whatever you do, don’t give me a book recommendation!
6. “You’re the product of the people you spend most time with. So spend time with the right people.”
When I first set up Mi-PA, I wish I hadn’t listened so much to friends and family. Ok, that may sound a bit mean, but let me explain. Right at the beginning of my business there were so many voices telling me it won’t work, that I should just give up and go and get a job again. Now, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted or needed to hear…
If you want to be successful, you have to learn to ignore all the negativity. I wish I’d heard the phrase “who you hang around with matters a lot” a lot sooner when I was building the company. Who I spend my time with now and who I used to spend most of my time with five years ago has completely changed.
7. “People are great, but processes build a business.”
The summer of 2012 was another really important milestone for Mi-PA. It was when Caroline joined as my first ever employed member of staff. I actually had someone on payroll. By November 2012, that had become two full time employees and the business was growing.
However, I realised very quickly my focus had to switch to building processes and systems to make sure everything worked consistently in the business – to bring on new customers, make sure customers were happy and make everything as efficient as possible. With Mi-PA, our focus on building systems drives our business and helps our customers work more effectively in their own business. We love a good process and when you see the difference it makes to freeing up your time, so will you.
8. “Don’t be the smartest person in the room”
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in business is about mindset… and I learned it from being in a room full of multi-millionaire business owners. Back in November 2012, I joined a mastermind group – a small group of business owners who come together to help each other with their business challenges.
At the time, I was overwhelmed with building my business and was still delivering client work while doing the selling. It was draining. Yet, being in this group of entrepreneurs who were in exactly the same situation as me felt like a safe, supportive environment. More than that, because they had already been there and done it, they helped me think bigger and this helped me drive Mi-PA to even greater heights.
9. “Focus on what will really drive your business forward”
September 2015 was a big month for me both personally and in terms of Mi-PA. It was the day I stopped personally working with clients. On that day, I handed over the last of my tasks and could focus 100% on being a business owner. At the time, this was a big step but since then I have been able to grow the business further and faster than ever.
After nearly seven years of still working in the business, I was finally able to focus on growing the business. And WOW did it pay off. In 18 months, I doubled the size of the Mi-PA team.
Because I understand the impact of having the day-to-day admin and operational tasks taken off your hands in freeing up time and space in your day, it’s our mission at Mi-PA to help other entrepreneurs focus on what’s important in their business.
That’s what we mean when we say we help you get your head out of the dirt and into the clouds.
When you’re not struggling with the day-to-day, you have the breathing space to think creatively, strategically and make the really big, important moves that push your business forward.
It’s been nine years now and while not every minute has been sweetness and light, I’ve learned so much about business and how mindset and thinking strategically can transform your business.
Our mission at Mi-PA is to support the growth of your company to new, even greater heights. Let us show you how we can be part of that journey.
Discover all the ways we help entrepreneurs who want to grow their business right here.