Celebrating 10 Years: 5 Business Lessons I Wish I Knew Sooner

Picture of Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

business lessons I wish I learned sooner

What are some business lessons you wished you knew sooner? 🤔

My first and main business, Express Writers, just turned a full decade-old this week. 

(Happy birthday to us!!)

At the beginning, I was 19 years old, in search of my passion, which was writing & making money on the internet.

I found content writing, and fell in love.

I went ALL IN.

Initially, I was a budding writer with five clients, and things snowballed… fast.  Soon, I found myself creating an Upwork profile called “Express Writers Team.”

It was the baby I’d raise into the double digits. (Little did I know)

I coded the first version of our website… from scratch. It took me over 90 hours in one week. I developed severe carpal tunnel (now I have a split keyboard, thank goodness)

Back then, I didn’t even have the $600 I needed to buy the domain.

(Good thing it was available months later — I got lucky! Now, a domain is the first thing I buy when starting a business.)

Looking back…

We’ve come so far.


I have been tested beyond belief.

I can count 12+ times where I almost gave up.

Whether it was someone I’d trusted leaving me without notice (when my kid was two, I had a month where I was working day and night to maintain three roles); or actually getting scammed by people I’d trusted and losing $80k.


You go through it all. 

It’s those that stick it out…

That are successful in the end.

What are you complaining about?

Most businesses…  don’t succeed. It’s a thing — I hate to say it.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail within the first year. 50% make it to five years. And only one-third make it to ten years.

Stop complaining.

You simply need to work harder and smarter than your competition.

Don’t give up.

I’m incredibly proud of that fact that we made it to ten years. Today, I have a valuable business because of the seeds we kept planting.

You should be proud, too, if you’ve made it past the one-year, five-year, or ten-year mark.

Running your own business is not for the faint of heart. It takes incredible amounts of persistence, will, and strength to keep going.

Today, I’m here to share the most important business lessons I wish I knew sooner.


5 Business Lessons I’m Sharing from My Ten-Year Journey of Entrepreneurship

Whether you’re still early in your journey or you’ve been around the block a few times, these business lessons can help you avoid some of the critical mistakes and pitfalls I fell into.

Business Lesson 1: Money Should NEVER be the End Goal 

This is one of the first and most important business lessons I’ve learned.

In today’s fast-paced society, it seems like the business “dream” should be to achieve seven figures.

But if that’s the primary goal you’re focusing on, you’re likely to lose your momentum and end up sidetracked.

Some better examples of goals you should be setting include:

  • Amazing customer service
  • A capable and dedicated team
  • Strong website traffic
  • Client success rate
  • Happy, healthy workplace culture
  • Improved conversions
  • Customer retention rate
  • Inbound outreach

I’ve seen this time and time again — whenever I put my overall revenue goal ahead of all my other goals, the system starts to crumble and that seven-figure dreams slips further out of reach.

But when you focus on the smaller, more achievable goals that serve as stepping stones to your overall objective, you have a much better chance for success.

Your purpose and passion should take precedence.

Trust me — the money will follow.

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Business Lesson 2: Thinking You Need to Have It Figured Out Before You Do Something 

I’m someone who acts on gut instinct (no matter what other people say).

Every time I’ve jumped into unfamiliar territory, I gained the skills I needed and knew what I was doing by the end.

The process itself is one of the best ways to learn.

For example, you might not learn how to write and self-publish a book in college. You can hire a knowledgeable coach and a skilled ghost writer, but you also have to walk in those waters and experience the process yourself.

Never think you have to have every detail figured out before you try something new!

Treat every day as if it’s a new opportunity to learn, and you will succeed.

Business Lesson 3: Trusting the Wrong People 

This one is the hardest lesson.

If you trust the wrong people for giving advice, finding a service for you, partnering for a project (the list goes on and on), you’re likely to crash and burn.

About three years into running my agency, I trusted two managers who were dishonest, unethical, and stealing money. After terminating them, they tried to clone my agency’s internal processes and recreate their own based on my business model.

It was a lesson learned the hard way, but it helped me build an amazing team today. I was motivated to seek out the right people and refused to give up until I succeeded.

NEVER settle when you’re hiring or partnering.

It’s too important, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Lesson 4: Thinking in Terms of Overnight Success 

There’s no quick, cheap hack for instant success.

Sorry to break it to you, but, becoming successful and building a legacy doesn’t happen in a week. You have to create, build, and maintain a position of authority in your industry. I talk about this in-depth in my books.

Today, it’s harder than ever to fake authority with trust in institutions and publication at an all-time low. Our consumers would rather trust the small business.

That’s good news for us, but it means that we have to be authentic, vulnerable, and real when it comes to building our authority online.

Persistence pays off, so don’t give up too early.

Stick with your goals. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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Business Lesson 5: Listening to Too Many People and Ignoring Your Instincts 

This is arguably one of the toughest but most critical business lesson.

If you shut out the negative voices of industry leaders, friends, family, and other well-intentioned people trying to give you advice, you’ll likely be viewed as egotistical.

But after the lessons I’ve learned, I don’t care about how I’m viewed — what I care about is getting the work done, learning and building my skills, and doing it so well, my clients keep coming back.

And you shouldn’t care about what anyone else thinks, either!

If you allow the wrong people to drown out your own intuition, they may lead you down the wrong path.

I’ve found my highest ROI when I am my most original self.

Whether that’s a campaign, email, blog post, video — you name it. I took risks, even if they were outside of the box and against other people’s advice, and that was when I saw success in what I was doing.

This may not fit with the typical advice you usually hear, but I believe in looking inward and tapping into your own creativity.

Shut out those voices. Don’t listen to too many people. Be true to yourself.

Honestly, you don’t have anything to lose. If your ideas don’t work, you can always stop.

But I really encourage you to follow your intuition.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Chasing Your Dreams

Of all the business lessons I learned throughout my journey, those five are the most important.

If you trust in your passion, intuition, and tenacity, and you’re willing to put in long hours of hard work, success is well within your reach.

And if you’re ready to start going after it, I can help.

If it’s time to get more out of your life by building a powerful digital business through content, and lead a business and marketing plan that DOESN’T suck you dry…

My coaching system for creative entrepreneurs, The Content Transformation System, will get you OUT of the grunt work and INTO the delight zone.

Seats are open! Apply today to get started.

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