Six years ago, we made a big decision. We decided to start WhichAddOn – the place for businesses to come to from all over the world, to get their ultimate question answered “Which Add-on do we use?” for our business.
We laugh often about the time we sat in a cafe in Leura, in the Blue Mountains, on a spine-shuddering cold day mapping out our dream business together in a sketch pad. We had both been using Xero and the addons for many years in our former businesses and decided together we would be so much stronger.
And this week, we are celebrating our six-year business anniversary of what is not just WhichAddOn, but now the WAO Group, incorporating WAO Connect, WAO Impact, WAO Business Services, WAO Academy and WAO Dashboards.
It’s been a 6-year journey of non-stop learning. For those of you that have known me for years, my motto is #neverstoplearning. We’ve experienced amazing successes and trying challenges. We’ve been transformed over the six years and learnt many valuable lessons along the way.
Here are 6 things we’ve learned in the 6 years of running WAO. (We say “Wow”).
1. Self-care is good for business
During the early stages of the business, it’s easy to forget to nurture yourself while you are nurturing the business. Studies have shown that good physical health links to good mental health and good mental health leads to increased productivity and creative thinking.
Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.
For us, self-care is very important, and we encourage our staff to exercise self-care and balance. But self-care also means that we have had to exercise boundaries, and how to say no. Over the past year, we have encouraged our staff to be winding down on Friday and getting organised for the next week.
2. Give to receive
The more you give, the more you will receive. This is true in many aspects of life and business. By providing quality content and knowledge with actionable takeaways. Offer advice and support to those around you.
Helping others has always been an important goal for us, and is part of the reason why we also created WAOImpact, the giving arm of our business. Through WAOImpact, we are empowered and able to give to those that are less fortunate than ourselves.
It has been a truly rewarding experience giving back to communities, sharing wisdom and advice, and we have learned just as much from these experiences.
3. Ask for help
You can’t do it all on your own. As a business owner, you try to do everything on your own working longer hours to try to get it all done. Which, if you aren’t careful, can lead to stress, overwhelm and burnout. Working on tasks that aren’t aligned to your strengths can also drain you of time and energy.
Thus, you need to find support and delegate, automate or outsource anything outside of your expertise. This is easier said than done, but as former workaholics, if you stick at it, we promise you it is possible.
4. Have a vision
Know what you are working towards and why. Having a clear vision for the business and for the life you want to create will help to understand the purpose of why your business exists. Without a vision, you will lack motivation and fulfilment, or just feel lost without a sense of direction.
A business vision is a vivid mental image of what you want the business to be at some point in the future, based on your goals. This vision can change with time as your goals change. Every Monday morning, we take a walk around the block with our 6-month-old son, or if it’s raining, have a cup of coffee together, and purposefully discuss our vision for the WAO Group, what improvements we can make and how to make our service and impact on our clients and the community even greater.
5. You can always change course
During the course of our business, we thought we were headed in one direction but had to make a pivot in another direction as the business was evolving. WAOConnect has continually had to keep refining the business model and the offerings.
The important lesson is that it is never too late to change course. If something isn’t working, change it. You set the rules in your business.
6. Don’t judge opportunities too quickly
Over the past 6 years, we have had to work through obstacles on a daily basis, and sometimes you find opportunities in those obstacles. And sometimes opportunities are outside of your skillset, but that doesn’t mean they should just be discarded. An empowered entrepreneur is one who regards all opportunities for their merits and weaknesses before acting on them.
Bonus: Have FUN!
Running a business is hard, and you do become overwhelmed, you will get frustrated or even disappointed. But in hindsight, it’s about the journey getting there, not the destination.
As much as you want to achieve the big goals, you need to celebrate the small milestones and the progress you make along the way.
By celebrating and having fun, it doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail – you have found an opportunity to learn and thus find transformation and growth.
These are the lessons we have learnt along the way, and we hope you can learn from them along your journey.
~ Jeri Wambeek