The journey to become a successful business owner isn’t smooth one. It’s filled with bumps, forks, and unexpected detours.
Surprisingly, most business owners wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a badge of honor that we proudly display.
That doesn’t mean that there have been mistakes that I wish I hadn’t made. Not that I’m embarrassed. These mistakes have helped me get to where I am today. It’s just that if I could have prevented them, the journal could have been just a bit smoother and less stressful.
With that in mind, here are 10 things that I wish I knew before I launched my own business.
1. Running the business is always the top priority.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about starting your own business is that you’re only focused on chasing your passion. In other words, you’re not just going to be making handmade jewelry, cooking on your own food truck, or designing websites 24/7. That’s maybe going to consume 15% of your time.
Instead, you’re going to spend a bulk of your time on developing business strategies, marketing, selling, interacting with customers, and doing administrative tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing, and payroll. In short, you’re a business owner first and then a web designer, chef, or creator of handmade jewelry.
I know this isn’t what you signed-up for, but the sooner you realize this fact, the sooner you’ll be able to launch and maintain a successful business.
2. The importance of cash flow management.
Make no mistake about it. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. When you don’t properly manage your cash flow you end up spending more money that you’re bringing in. And, how long can you expect to stay-in-business when you don’t have enough money to pay your necessary expenses?
The most effective way to manage your cash flow is by creating a budget and justifying every expense so that you know exactly where your hard-earned money is going.
3. It’s lonely.
When you start your own business, it’s just you and you alone. Every decision and responsibility fall on your shoulders. And that’s a heavy, lonesome burden to carry.
Having a co-founder or business partner can lessen that burden and make the journey not as lonely, but if you’re not in that position then you should build a safety net. It could be your spouse, family, best friend, or other business owners who are going through the same experience as you. You’re going to need them for advice, emotional support, and the occasional venting session.
4. Engage with your audience.
Your customers don’t want to do business with faceless, nameless organization. They want to know that there’s an actual person on the other end. Someone who will respond to their inquiries and understand their pain points.
Engaging with your audience is one of the most important tasks that business owners must work on. Instead of hiding in an office and never interacting with your customers, respond personally to comments left on forums, blog posts, social media channels, review sites, and emails. Speak at industry events and mingle afterward. Talk to potential customers when waiting for a flight.
By John Rampton