Starting a business is hard. There are so many things I wish I knew before starting mine. Looking back, there are 6 things I would have told myself before opening the doors on day one that would have made my journey much easier…
1) Networking & Relationships
I feel like every other week I preach networking and relationships in some form or another. But it really is so important to running a successful business.
One thing that has taken me quite some time to learn is how to network properly. When I first started my business, I wanted to meet as many people as I possibly could. While this was beneficial in some ways, I really wasn’t building any relationships. I was just “knew of” a lot of people. If you want any of those relationships to bear fruit, you need to build trust and really get to know the person. It is okay to meet tons of different people but find ones you connect with and work on being more than just acquaintances.
2) Nothing Comes Easy
I knew starting a business wouldn’t be easy but its so much harder than I could have ever imagined. Day in and day out is grind. However, if you love what you do, that’s okay! Just realize that building something special won’t come easy or everyone would do it. It is going to take everything you have and then some. However, I can say from my own experience, it is worth every second.
3) Never Stop Marketing
This is another one that took a while to learn. Early on when we would land a new client, it was easy to sit back and relax a bit. You cannot afford to take time off from growing your business. It is hard enough to maintain a certain level so if you want to see consistent growth, you need to be relentless in your marketing efforts. Clients come and go. The market changes on a daily basis. Always be selling and never be satisfied.
4) Learn To Say No
This one was tough for me, especially when first starting out. We would take any client that was willing to work with us. Learning to identify your ideal client and really stick to just working with them is extremely difficult. As you begin to say no to more clients that don’t fit your business, it’s funny how more and more clients are attracted to you. This one is super easy say and much harder to execute but it can really set you up for long term success.
5) Have the Right Tools
Invest in the tools you need to properly serve your clients. I have a quick story on this one. Through the first 3 years in business I think we used 3 different tax software packages. We were trying to find a good balance between price and performance. We finally came to the conclusion that having one of the best software packages in the industry (almost 4 times the price!) would save us so much time in the long run that it was worth it. You obviously have to pick in choose which tools you think are most essential to your business but don’t sell yourself short on what you deem necessary.
6) Just Do It
Running a business is all about making decisions. Some large and some very small. The most important thing I have learned in my 6 years in business is that you need to stop thinking so much and just DO. There is a saying, “paralysis by over-analysis”. Too many times we beat a decision to death and don’t and up doing anything. The bottom line is, you are going to make countless mistakes in your business. The best thing you can do is take action, learn from your mistakes and move on. I wrote an entire article on this idea because I feel that strongly about it. Many times in business the best thing to do is take action and work out the details later. I know it sounds crazy but I promise you it works.
I hope this has been helpful in one way or another. Whether you are thinking about starting a business or have been in business for 30 years, I do believe there are lessons that can be learned from the many mistakes I have made over the past 6 years. For those that have been in business for a while, I would love to hear what you would share with your younger self. Drop a comment below and let’s chat!