I have touched on the topic of what I wish I had know before starting my business in my book, Soulmate Proprietors, but an article from Lauren Drell featured on Mashable today made me start thinking about it again.
In her article she writes: “One in 12 startups succeed, and these businesses are healthy, growing and maybe even profitable. But that’s not to say there weren’t bumps in the road. We’ve asked some founders for things they wish they knew when they started their companies, in the hopes that it’ll help you and your startup avoid a fatal flaw.”
I agree with most of her list, but here are few of my own:
1. Asking For Help
It amazes me that I never took the time to do this. I always thought that entrepreneurship was a “hush hush” type of situation – there would be no way other business owners would give away their secrets to success! Little did I know that when I finally had no where else to turn, I could call on my friends who also owned a business and ask them questions about things I knew nothing about, or “am I the only one dealing with this”? Often times, they would laugh and tell me their experience with the same situation. So don’t be afraid to ask your peers for help!
2. It Will Take More Money Than You Think
Sadly, when my husband and I started down our entrepreneurial path, we thought we would save up three months of his current salary and when it was gone, if we weren’t doing well, he would go back to his corporate job. Wow! DON”T EVER DO THIS! I cannot believe how young and stupid we were! I don’t care what your business is, how much of it you can run on your own, your business plan, etc. – give yourself some cushion. You have no idea what the economy will do, what your competitors will do, etc. Add up what you think it will cost and triple it – at least!
3. Don’t Be A Matyr
You don’t know everything – so stop trying to act like it. We are a technology company, so we know a lot about many topics – which does make us lucky in many respects. But we are NOT lawyers, accountants, graphic designers, etc. When I stop to think of all the time we wasted trying to be all of these people, it makes me irritated. Spend the money on quality business professionals that make up for your weaknesses. You will be better served spending your time working on things that make you money instead of trying to do your taxes so you can save on your accounting bill. Not only that, you may get it wrong and spend more time and money trying to fix what could have been done right in the first place. Hire professionals! You are one too, wouldn’t you want someone to hire you?
4. Your Staff Is An Extension Of You
Whomever you hire – take your time to interview them properly. Get to know them. Thoroughly check their references. Research them like crazy on Google. Just because your friend knows them, or the neighbor’s kid needs a job, or you are desperate for help does not mean you should skimp on this very important piece of your business. You don’t have time to babysit and hold their hand – you are running a business. Unfortunately, I have been burned on this more than once – because I acted in fear. Fear I would not be able to get everything done if I didn’t hire someone right away. Make sure they are qualified, have a great personality, excel in customer service and get along well with others. A little extra time during the hiring process will serve you well.
I can probably think of a dozen more, but you get the idea. What are some things YOU wished you had know before starting your business? Let me know!