When I started my first business back in 1998, I made so many mistakes. Since that time, I have learned so much and that's why I want to start a conversation here about business too. What I'm most passionate about is sharing what I'm learning in all areas of life in the hope that it may help and inspire others.
What I learned, both through that first venture, and the four subsequent businesses I have started, has been massive.
If you're a business owner, there's no doubt you'll be learning a lot too. And, I'm sure you'll agree that you've never worked so hard, nor learned so much in such a short timeframe. It's kind of like a crash course don't you think?
As a new business owner, I wish I'd known I'd:
1. Be working harder than I ever had before. I'd always worked hard, or so I thought, but when it came to running my own business, the hours I put in initially, were crazy. I'd get up super-early, work all day, and because my husband was working away from home, I'd work into the late evening too. I think if someone had said to me, be prepared to work harder than you ever have before, I would have at least had a heads up. Not that I would have understood what it meant, because I strongly believe that we can't possibly know, but forewarned is forearmed.
2. Be wearing so many 'hats'. Having spent the majority of my career in the corporate world, there was always a finance department, an IT department, someone who took care of the mail, the banking, and so on. When I became a business owner I quickly learned that I was it. My role was finance, IT, administration, graphic design, dispatch, and everything else that is needed to run a successful business. When you're self-employed you wear many 'hats'. Understanding this from the get-go is useful because it will help you identify where your need to enlist help.
3. Often over-think things. In the early days of running my copywriting business back in 2013, I thought I needed to keep launching new products and services. What I now know is that launching anything, is a massive piece of work, and when we are doing this continually, there is no room to focus on marketing, which of course is the key to business growth. In addition, a relatively small offering strategically designed for your target audience will have far greater success than spreading yourself too thin.
4. Find it hard to strike a balance. I didn't realise I would find it difficult to balance my work and personal life. In the early days, boundaries were crossed almost all the time and I found it very difficult to step away from work. I'd spend way too much time on my phone after hours and at the weekends responding to social media and email, when I didn't need to. Setting clear boundaries for yourself in the early days is key to finding that balance.
5. Get addicted to work. I actually got addicted to work and burnt out. It's not fun. Now, I'm so aware of this and I know the signs for myself. If you burn out you can't work, and when you can't work in your own business, you're not making money if it's reliant on you. Listen to your body and get the rest you need.
6. Be anxious. I was super-anxious about making my businesses succeed and this was no help at all. When the corporate salary stops coming in each month it's scary, but with a plan, and funds to support you through the early days, this anxiety can be alleviated.
7. Move ahead faster with the right help. When you start a business, finance can be an issue. Knowing where to spend your money is difficult, but when I look back, I wish I'd engaged the help of a business coach sooner on my journey. Yes, it's a big cost, but it's the biggest contributing factor to the success I have had as a business owner. Having said that, be discerning about who you engage, because some coaches have been fantastic, and others I have learned very little from.
Coaching is what gives you the edge, it truly does. Look at any professional athlete, business leader or successful musician—they all will have had coaches at some point. Every business owner needs it.