16 Lessons for New Business Owners
So you’ve just started a business! Congratulations. Now buckle up. Be prepared for the best and worst experience of your life, all rolled into one. I’m not kidding. I LOVE my company, my job and what we do, and actually, every day is fantastic. Now. I really couldn’t ask for a better company, team or any of it. I’m a very happy and successful business owner. But it wasn’t always that way.
I started Vision Advertising in 1999 and have faced lots of things. For starters, I sincerely needed to grow up, get out of my own way, and realize a lot of things that nobody was volunteering to teach me. College didn’t prepare me for this, my parents (sorry Mom & Dad!) didn’t prepare me for this, but going through it certainly left its mark. I’ve changed up the lineup of services a dozen times until I found the right combination (and I’m sure I’ll do it again when the market calls for it), I’ve hired a big team, I’ve fired a big team, I’ve spent money I didn’t need to spent, and almost had to close my business because I was being stubborn and determined not to listen when people WOULD volunteer to teach me.
Gradually, I smartened up, but lots of that came after getting burned and doing something wrong and having it bite me in the tush. Eventually I came to be more willing, pliable and humble. When that happened, I got happier and things began to work. Call it zen, if you will. If you’re willing to learn, see the light and get out of your own way BEFORE you have to learn the hard way, you might just avoid a lot of aggravation and skip right ahead to “GO” and collect your $200. I hope you can (and I wish I had sooner!).
Here are some valuable lessons that I think you could benefit from. Some I went through personally to learn, others I got to observe others doing. Some may apply to you, some may not. Pick and choose, and go make your mark on the world sooner rather than later. Be wonderful, be happy, and live a fabulous life.
- Do what you do best, and let others do what they do best. Leave them alone with a deadline and expectations and then let them do it.
- Don’t spend all your money and hope to God it’ll work. Always leave something in reserves. Nothing is ever worth betting on one pony for.
- Don’t be cheap when hiring a vendor. If you can’t pay to do it right, then don’t do it. If it’s not done right, chances are, it’ll backfire anyway and you’ll end up paying out the same money or more than if you had done it right from day 1.
- Business plans are a really solid investment of time and energy. The most important section is answering the question: how am I going to generate sales? Specifically, you need to outline how you will attract customers, and how you will close the sale, and what it’s going to take to attract them.
- Sales is king. Marketing cannot replace sales, but sales can replace marketing. Sales is free, marketing is not.
- Be the customer you want to attract. How do you want your customers to treat you? Do you want them to trust you? Do you want them to take your word at face value? Do you want them to come back and do business again?
- Before you spend a cent – ask yourself – do I really NEEEEEEED this???? Like “can’t live without this or my business will cease to function” kind of need?
- Take the emotion 100% OUT of your business. Make decisions with logic, not emotion.
- NEVER make a financial decision about your business when you’re financially stressed personally. A desperate mind makes horrible decisions that most often will sink the business.
- Separate your personal expenses from your business expenses and let either sink/swim separately.
- Become good at computers, business, sales, HR, marketing and operations. You have to be skilled at least somewhat in every department so you can run a profitable company on your own should you need to.
- Nothing is ever easy. The moment you think it’s going to be – you’re already dead in the water. Consider every battle uphill and then be pleasantly surprised when the rare occasion comes about that it’s not.
- Over-think EVERYTHING and ask lots and lots of questions. Research, learn, read and fill your head with what you need to get things done.
- There is no such thing as an emergency. Unless a fire destroys everything – life is good. Observe, decide, act. Move on.
- Patience is vital to a healthy and happy business owner. Without it, you’ll go nuts.
- Persistence is either really smart or really stupid. You have to train yourself to determine which is which so you don’t end up making the same mistake 100 times and never reaching your goals.
What can you add to this list that I should put on here? If you can add a good one from your own experience, I’ll happily add it to this list and credit it to you, linking to your web site. Add it in the comments below!
Kate Bromley added:
#17: Treat time like your most valuable asset. Every meeting should have at least a mental agenda and a time limit. Plan goals for every day and week so you stay on track and check in with yourself regularly to see what progress you’ve made on short and long term goals.