I have a degree in Ag Business but I never set out with the intention of starting a business. In fact, I got my Masters in Human Resources because that is what I thought I wanted to do (I was very wrong).
If you haven’t had a chance to hear how I ended up getting into all of this, you can read that here. Each day has certainly brought on new challenges, successes and lessons learned. Looking back over the last couple of years, there are things that I wish I would have been able to tell myself before starting a business.
It is my hope that by sharing these, if you are considering starting a business, or maybe you are in the early stages, these small pieces of advice will make your life just a bit easier.
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business
1. Working from home, alone, gets lonely.
This for me was the most unexpected. I thought that working from home was going to be this amazing thing. And while it certainly is awesome, it does get lonely. In order to combat this, I always try to work outside of the house at least one or two days a week. I find that I am super productive when I cowork with other people who also work from home. So find yourself some coworking buddies or a little coffee shop to work in – it will help so much!
2. Work never truly ends – there is no set schedule.
When you work for yourself, schedules sort of go out the door. I try to keep set “office hours” and my clients do a great job of respecting those. My issue is that I sometimes don’t respect them myself. I find that I might “just quickly” jump on at 9pm to finish something, and work until midnight. This was a big problem for me in the beginning and I really had to try and train myself to be better about have a start and stop time just like I would at any other job.
3. Vacation time, either means paying someone to help or not earning money
Working from anywhere can be amazing. However, taking “vacation time” either means that you have to find someone you trust enough to cover your work while on vacation. Or you decide not to work, which probably means you also don’t get paid. It can make it difficult to disconnect and truly have vacation time when you aren’t worrying about work.
I suggest finding a great subcontractor and setting aside time to train them on covering for you on vacation (it is well worth the money!) And when you get there, diversify your income so that you have more passive income streams which means less work on vacation!
4. There are days when I don’t leave the house. Or put on real clothes/makeup.
… and I am ok with that. But I quickly learned that in order to be productive, I needed to get up every day and at least get out of my pajamas. Even if that just meant putting on yoga pants and a t-shirt. It was that little act that helped me kick off the day and not just want to crawl back to bed and go back to sleep.
5. Equipping yourself with the right tools and systems will save you money.
Investing in the right tools, systems and people is going to end up saving you time and money (plus probably your sanity). It took me a bit to learn this because I didn’t want to pay for certain programs. However, I quickly realized that paying the few dollars a month for a program was going to save me hours in work (which can earn me much more money!) Check out the my top three tools that I use here.
6. Done is better than perfect
I got this from a client and I love this saying. Too often I see people who want everything to be perfect. And while that is great, and I am sure we would all like everything we do to be 100% spot on – that just isn’t reasonable. Running a business is crazy and honestly, for most things, getting them done (still done well) is better than taking tons of extra time for them to be just a tiny bit better. Prioritization really comes into play here.
7. Don’t ignore the “business” side of your business
Please. Seriously. If you take anything from this, hear this: do not ignore the “business” side of your business. Taxes need to be paid, expenses need to be tracked, invoices need to be sent on time, etc. Without the business side, no matter what you are doing, your business will fail. If you truly hate doing these tasks – then hire someone to do them for you. Just make sure that they are getting done.
8. Embrace mistakes
You are going to make them – we all do. Learn from the mistakes you make. After all, most of the learning we do comes from a mistake.
“Many times what we perceive as an error or failure is actually a gift. And eventually we find that lessons learned from that discouraging experience prove to be of great worth.” – Richelle E. Goodrich
9. Choose wisely when saying “Yes”
When I first started in business, I said “Yes” to EVERYTHING. Every email list, free webinar, networking event, etc. – I said yes to. And it took a toll. I was running always and honestly most of the things I was doing/attending weren’t benefiting me or my business. So why was I doing them? Because I felt like I needed to.
I am here to tell you, that you DON’T need to do anything you don’t want to. Feel free to politely decline an event that doesn’t have your target audience or maybe stop signing up for every free training online. I promise it will help you free up time to focus on the areas of your business that will actually make you money!
10. Roll with the punches (each day is unique, enjoy the experience, you did it!)
Each day is going to be unique when running a business. You have to learn to roll with the punches and focus on the awesome things you are doing. Sure you will make mistakes but don’t let those get you down. Keep going because you are doing it! Don’t forget to enjoy the experience along the way.
You should be so so proud of yourself!