After three years of running a business, I’ve made a bunch of mistakes. If we rolled the clock back three years, I’d probably make many of them again; this is part of every entrepreneur’s journey. Ultimately, there are a ton of things I wish I would’ve known before starting a business, but for the sake of this article, I’ll boil it down to the seven I would’ve found most useful.
1. Don’t Try And Do Everything Yourself
Letting control go is something I recommend you try to do sooner than later. My business was/is my baby, so initially, I tried to do everything myself. In my case, this meant countless hours of work coupled with a lot of stress. If you’re a one-person show, then you will have to take a lot on. But as your business grows, look to give responsibilities to others as they join your team.
2. Find like-Minded People, Not like-Skilled People
When we started we had four writers; we were all motivated about trying to build something bigger than ourselves. But in reality no one knew anything about business operations, marketing, accounting, etc. It took us about a year too long to start bringing on people who had different skill-sets and were equally about the company’s vision.
3. It’s Okay to End a Business Engagement (Fire a Client)
This is a big one. When you start doing business with someone, you start to expect their monthly revenue. In a startup phase, $500 a month can seem like it’s the difference between make or break for your business, it’s not. We terminated our first client 18 months into doing business with them. Not that they were a bad business, but because they were bad for our business. If a company is generating a ton of headaches for you and your coworkers don’t be afraid to drop them from your roster.
4. Get Mentors, and Meet Regularly
This comes back to the first point about trying to do everything yourself — you can’t. Asking someone to be a business mentor is a tough thing to do, but I think it provides endless returns. Not only can mentors provide access to their networks, but they can help you avoid mistakes they have made in the past. Remember, they were once wide-eyed entrepreneurs too. As you grow, mentors can help you when tough decisions face you and your business.
5. Pay for the Tools That Your Business Needs
We currently pay for a plethora of software and internet services, all of which are pivotal to our business functioning. When we first started, I was always hesitant about paying for new tools because all I saw was the upfront cost, not the service boost they would provide to CAVE.
6. Prepare to Be 3X as Big
I wish I had known about the 3X rule before I started a business, but truth be told, we started implementing it in the Spring of 2013. This is a company infrastructure mindset. Ask yourself, “If my business tripled in size overnight, would I have the infrastructure in place to handle it?” If so, then great. If not, then think about the ways you can maximize efficiency and improve your business processes, because your business will have opportunities to grow; you don’t want to squander them because of a lack of planning.
7. Ignore the Naysayers
When you start to tell people about your business, people will question it. People are going to be negative or give you their passive aggressive opinions about your business, and that’s okay — because it’s your business, not theirs.