Starting a business is an exciting time, full of preparation and promise. However, no matter how much forethought has gone into your business plan, some lessons can only be learned through hindsight — unless you draw from the experience of others.
Here are ten things to consider when launching your business that we hope will save you time and a few growing pains.
1. You are Not Your Business
You've poured everything into your business. It feels like it's in your bone marrow. If that is your goal, then great! Just don't forget that the individual "you" and the business are two different entities. It's easy as a business owner to tie your identity to your business. It's your business, but your business is not who you are as a fully-dimensional person. Remind yourself of what makes you unique apart from your business and nurture those aspects of self as you grow the business.
2. Find Your Network
Business owners have this misconception of being all alone on an island. That they must show strength and avoid any signs of vulnerability by not asking for help or advice. Starting a business is hard work! Find a Chamber of Commerce, Business Networking Group, or fellow business owners who are where you are, or even better, are already through the start-up process and can lend some helpful advice.
“The quality of our networks helps determine our success. “ Judy Robinett
3. Your Team is Your Lifeline
When starting a business, it's tempting to try to be both a business owner and employee. Finding team members with the right qualifications who align with your mission can be tough. You may find yourself trying to fill two roles. In doing so, both will suffer. It may take more time to build a great team on the front end, but the effort will be worth the reward, especially when you find the team that emphasizes your strengths and fills the gaps of your weaker areas.
- If you are planning on hiring new employees make time in your calendar to execute a thorough training and onboarding experience.
- Create a strong foundation to enable employees to build upon and grow
4. Utilize Resources
Freelancers can do what they specialize in and free you up for what you do best. Are you doing your own bookkeeping? Is this the best use of your talents? Will it further your business goals? Automation is widely available for all types of business and marketing functions. By utilizing the resources available, you can more efficiently and effectively reach your customers with your message.
5. Guard Your Time
Business owners can stay busy 14+ hours a day. However, if that time is not spent on income-generating activities, it's just spinning your wheels. The more you spin, the more exhausted you are until it becomes hard to see why growth doesn't equal the time put in. Guard your time carefully. Plan out the most important activities and don't let anything intrude on those scheduled items. This includes time for your family and yourself. Giving yourself time to recharge allows your brain the freedom to dream again.
6. It's All About Them
Your business is your baby. Just like a proud mom, it's tempting to tell everyone about how wonderful your baby is. The truth is that people are inherently interested in what they have going on in their lives because most everyone already has a lot to deal with in that context. They don't care about how fantastic your business is-- they care about what your wonderful business can do for them (especially their pain points). This isn't so much selfish as the inherent nature of trying to survive the pain points of this modern world. When the focus is taken off of you and your business and placed on the customer, everybody wins. The more you focus on others, the more you look for opportunities to continue doing so, even beyond your business and into the community.
7. There Will Be Sacrifice
No matter how much your prepare, starting a business is all-consuming. While it is important to schedule time for family and friends, there will be many times you will have to say, "no" when you really want to say, "yes." When those times come, remember what you are working towards and that this stress will eventually pass. Having said that, prioritize and make time for the things that truly matter. Building a successful business is no substitute for building a successful life.
8. Details Matter
In the excitement of building a team, developing a marketing plan, and getting your product to market, be careful that legal issues aren't neglected. Permits, taxes, insurance, etc., may not be exciting, but understanding how they work and staying on track can prevent a lot of headaches and financial difficulty down the road.
9. Make Mistakes
Give yourself the grace to make mistakes. Mistakes mean effort. It's easy to sit still and never make a mistake, but you're an entrepreneur. You have a passion and drive to succeed. That sometimes means making mistakes. Own those mistakes and keep going.
10. Have Fun!
This is your dream. Soak it in. When you succeed, have fun. When you stumble and struggle, remember that you are moving towards your dream. Whatever you do, think back to the excitement of that first day and adjust your perspective when you are feeling frustrated to include the truth of working towards a major goal.