The Things You Wish You Knew When You Started
When you’ve been in business for a while, you look back at the early days and remember what you did. Have you ever wondered what you were thinking? Maybe even had a rueful chuckle at your own expense about what you didn’t know? I think a lot of us have done that.
All kinds of people start businesses. Some are excited about their idea and figure they’ll learn as they go. Others do a lot of research before they even start. While these are extremes on both ends, where did you fall? I can’t tell you how many people have told me about wanting to have their fantasy lives made real. This is not to say that this can’t happen. Frankly, it’s embedded in my work with small business owners that everyone finds a way to have their dreams and aspirations become everyday reality.
But sometimes getting there has a few potholes:
- You need money to start a business. The amount needed can depend on what industry you’re in. Some businesses are virtual so you might need enough to pay for the initial founding costs and emergency funds. Franchises, affiliates and even stand-alone businesses have startup costs that can be overlooked when it seems like your chosen business is your golden ticket.
- It is hard work to build up your first client base. One of my early clients experienced this one. She wanted to be a personal chef but discovered that she would have to do a lot of networking to get her name out there. This became disheartening for her and closed down her business even before she really did anything.
- To get VC funding, you have to bootstrap, bring your idea to market and put in a great deal of work before they invest. It can be a long slog for some. The magic idea that you just have to pitch and people throw money at you is just that, magic. I know this one entrepreneur in bio-energy started off with one idea and discovered he had to revamp his technology to make it easier to sell and prove that it is viable. The great part of this story is that he won a business plan contest and A round funding. When we last spoke, he was just about to receive his next round of funding.
- You’re going to work more hours than you expected. It’s not that you won’t have flexible hours. It’s just that the hours may amount to more than you imagined.
- There are behaviors and expectations that you’re supposed to know already. Little things like how to arrange a mutually satisfying alliance with someone, how to combine business and a recreational activity (golf, tennis, boating, etc.) or asking someone to hire you.
There are definitely more potholes that we encounter as we work for ourselves. If you haven’t experienced some of the potholes I mentioned above, think of what tripped you up along the way.
If we knew then what we know now, what would we do differently?
Are there any “dirty little secrets” that you wish you knew from the beginning about owning your own business?
*Join us for the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog on this Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT for our topic.”The Dirty Little Biz Secrets You Wish You Knew From the Start”. We’d love to hear what you’ve observed, experienced and learned since you started in business.