Read time: 5 min
A wise mentor of mine once told me, “if you can make it to five years in business Hannah, you’ll be flying”.
Her words have echoed in the back of my mind since she uttered them, and I’ve speculated fondly for years about what this business birthday and might feel like.
As I write this article on the eve of our fifth birthday, I am here to report that five-year flying sometimes feels like gliding effortlessly, but a consistent flapping is a much better way to describe it.
In business, as with all things in life, to get ahead you have to put in the work, consistently.
While our Media Mortar cruising altitude is still up for debate (although a recent business valuation gave me a good idea!), the five-year mark has given me some excellent perspective to enjoy a bird’s eye view of what I’ve learnt over the past five years.
Indulge me for the next couple of minutes of reading, with my five lessons from five years in business:
1. Forget motivation, you need to be disciplined
Despite what every Insta-preneur will tell you about running a business, there is nothing passive (especially the income) about it – you have to be disciplined and do the work.
What most people are surprised at about Media Mortar, is the sheer volume of work we do each year.
To get through it, we’re incredibly disciplined as a team and we recruit incredibly disciplined individuals.
For me, discipline shows up in the way of routine. I get up early, ‘do the work’ (to quote everyone’s favourite Kardashian), start with my hardest tasks first and I don’t stop until they’re finished.
So often people confuse discipline and motivation – but I am an advocate that the two are totally different after reading about their difference in Lorraine Murphy’s book Step into You.
Allow me to explain – motivation is the desire to do your hardest task first, but discipline is doing your hardest task first, every single day.
In my experience, motivation might get you to where you want to go, but discipline will keep you there – and that’s why it’s a critical skill for business owners.
It’s the modern day playout of one of my favourite quotes: hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.
2. The standards you ignore are the ones you’re willing to accept
When it comes to people management – regardless if they’re internal resources or external ones like clients, it’s important to police your standards or risk them becoming a door mat for people to walk all over.
Whether it’s the way a client treats your team, the way you communicate with each other or what you do next when a team member shows up late for work (again!), one thing’s for certain – the standards you’re willing to walk past are the ones you’re willing to accept.
After all, what’s the point of having rules and regulations if no one polices them?
Creating consistency and certainty in the way things will play out, is critical in any business success.
3. Everyone is replaceable, including yourself
In February 2021, I left my business baby to have a real baby and in the process was dealt the biggest business lesson I’ve learnt in five years – everyone is replaceable, even the owner.
In preparing the business for my departure, I hired a General Manager, Bel, who elevated every aspect of the business from revenue to human resourcing and client retention.
What my maternity leave showed me in no uncertain terms – I had been a bottle neck for far too long, caught in the weeds and wanting for every single element of the business to be funnelled up to me.
When you get out of the way and let highly qualified people do their job, magic truly does happen.
4. Remember why you started
I can promise you one thing, when you run your own business, there are going to be hard days.
Some of them, bone-crushingly hard where you want to rip your notepad into a thousand pieces, close the door and never come back.
It’s those days that you need to remember why you started.
In Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, he explains that businesses who keep their why through rapid growth, outperform the companies whose what begins to dominate their reason for business.
Throughout all periods of Media Mortar growth, I can confirm that when the highs got higher, the lows also got lower.
From one business owner to another, the best defence and constant buoyancy is your purpose – aka why is it that you do what you do?
5. Be yourself because everyone else is already taken
If I see one more logo in the same pastel peach with fairyfloss sky supporting colour palette, I’m going to pull the rip cord in my parachute and get off this flight.
I see far, FAR, too many people looking at their competitors rather than doing things their way.
At Media Mortar, we’ve received far more compliments from the way we do things ‘our way’ than trying to act, think and do like any other agency.
When you’ve got your eyes on your own yoga mat, you’re only competing with yourself – and I don’t know about you, but that’s the only competition I’m interested in winning.
My commitment for the next five years is to continue being the best Media Mortar we can be – unashamedly us, doing things different and creating content our award-winning, signature way.
Which one of these tips resonated most with you?
By Hannah Statham
Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah searching for the best gnocchi in town.