I love the new year. It gives us a chance to start fresh, to give us a clean slate and to reflect on the past so we can prepare for the future.
This past year my company turned three and like any founder or CEO, every anniversary and milestone is an opportunity to celebrate but to also think about 'what's next.'
I'm proud of my company and what we've created. I'm proud of the work we do and the clients we serve. I'm proud of the team I have and that I am truly doing what I love. We should all be so lucky.
But, as I reflect on the past year and gear up for what I hope to be our best year ever - I can't help but ask myself, "What does it really take to build something great?"
What does it take to build something that people recognize as a superior product or service?
What does it take to build something that will stand the test of time? That will resonate with a large enough audience? That at the end of the day you can say - it was all worth it.
It takes time. Rome wasn't built in a day and anything great certainly wasn't. Just look at the stories of Steve Jobs or Walt Disney and read about the time and persistence it took to build something great. There will always be competition. There will always be someone selling something better, faster or shiner than you.
So how do you win?
You win when you understand that it's a marathon and not a sprint; that consistent effort day after day, month after month and year after year pays off. You win when you understand that there is no short-cut to success; that really success - success that is sustaining (and that is more than the dollars in your bank account) takes consistent effort over the course of time.
It take guts. To build something really great takes guts, it takes having the attitude of "say yes, and figure it out later." The real champions are the ones who don't take no for an answer but look high and low for an answer and aren't afraid of what other people think or say. When you put yourself out on a limb and do the unexpected - many people won't get it. They will be the first to judge or criticize.
One of my Periscope friends said it best, "your biggest critics are many times your biggest fans." They are the ones who are always checking out your Facebook page or Googling you. Taylor Swift had it right, the haters gonna hate - but real success comes from digging deep, trusting your gut, and trusting your truth. Real victory comes from knowing that no matter who else or what else is your competition - that you have something no else else has.
It takes the right team. I learned this from the get-go. You can't do everything - although we as entrepreneurs we sure try. We are a stubborn bunch. We want to know how to run every aspect of our business - "just in case."
We want to save a few pennies by not hiring the right person and then end up tripping over nickels when we realize our time is our most valuable asset.
When I realized that I can't do it all, that there are only 24 hours in a day and that in addition to my company I have a family and a life that I want to enjoy - I knew I had to have the right team. My team is 100% virtual so it's more important than ever to have the right people and the right processes in place to set them up for success.
It takes empowering your team. I have learned this year to let go, and that there is so much joy in empowering your team to be a part of the process. Your team will make mistakes but they will also do more for your company than you can ever dream.
This past December I flew my team out to my home to celebrate our success and to have a brainstorm session "in real life." I walked away from those few days reinvigorated and inspired because of what my team is fired up to create and to build together.
It takes knowing what type of company you want to build. In our brainstorm session this past December, my marketing coordinator asked me about my vision. My vision for 2016 is about serving more.
I want to serve more people - which is why this year we are really focusing on providing superior service to our select clients - but also rolling out new products and services that will ultimately allow us to serve more people. It's scary but exciting in so many ways. I've learned too - that the scary part - that's when you know you are doing something great.
In addition to the right people and the right work ethic - it's really inspiring to me that I can have team members who work from home, who are able to take care of their family's and children as needed, who can have a flexible work schedule.
I firmly believe that the way we think about work is changing and evolving to meet the needs of our lifestyle, our monetary needs and our family needs. I am a firm believer that for many jobs - it doesn't require everyone to be within the same four walls at exactly the same time of day.
Watching Jason Fried's TED talk about this years ago only continued to inspire me to not just believe that for myself but to build that type of environment for my team. Take care of your team and they will take care of you ten-fold.
It takes hiring people who are smarter than you. This goes back to what I was saying above about having the right team. I remember a mentor saying to me many years ago that they always tried to hire people smarter than them.
As a young manager years ago, that intimidated me. But now (maybe it's the maturity that comes with turning 40 this year!) I'm not afraid to admit what I know I don't know and hire accordingly. Some of the best leaders and the best companies I know have build something great because that have built a great organization of people who support and are passionate about the vision.
It takes know what you do that makes it rain. This past year I heard the great Darren Hardy speak - publisher of Success Magazine. He said to the crowd at the event I was speaking at, "As a business owner - what do you do that makes it rain?"
That simple sentence was so profound to me. As a business owner, I was so guilty of getting stuck in the weeds of answering every email, of saying 'yes' to every opportunity because I was afraid of saying 'no,' of staying up late to work on my Facebook ads. These are all important parts of my business - but they aren't the things that make it rain in my business.
What I do that makes it rain has to do with speaking, blogging, writing, live streaming, and being that public face of our company. It's a hard thing for an business owner to let go of those little things - but now that I have started to - it's amazing how much more time I have to think, to create, to write - to do the things that make it rain in my business.
It takes admitting you are scared but doing it anyway. It's the scared that makes it great. Doing something really great professionally or personally takes guts - it takes admitting that big hairy audacious goal scares the crap out of you but you are just going to work toward it.
I was watching Rocky 3 this week and there is the famous scene where Rocky is on the beach and doubting all of his accomplishments. HIs wife Adrian famously says, "It doesn't matter what I believe or what Apollo believes - YOU have to believe in yourself."
I watched this and smiled because it's so true. When I decided this year that I deserved this success, that it was ok to be scared, that it was ok to make mistakes - but that the biggest mistake would be in NOT trying - then, I knew I was building something great.
If you are an entrepreneur or a business owner - I encourage you to dare to go outside your comfort zone this year, remember time is on your side - consistency always wins, and I challenge you to do that one thing that scares you.
Katie Lance is a social media strategist, keynote speaker, author, consultant and coach. Her first book will be released in early 2016. Connect with Katie on Twitter, Instagram and Periscope @katielance.