I wish someone told me these things before I started my first business
Starting a business can be a real roller-coaster – there are highs and lows every day. Having been through the process myself I thought it might be useful to highlight a few things that I can now look back on and say “I wish I knew that before I started” so that others might be saved re-inventing the wheel.
When you’re talking to others about your new venture you should end up getting carried away with enthusiasm about it. You should, in fact, be like an over-excited puppy because it just fires you up to think about what you’re doing. If it doesn’t then alarm bells should be ringing – if it doesn’t excite you then why would others get excited about it? Are you really doing this for the right reasons?
This ties in with vision; you will be confronted by many obstacles on your way to success and clarity of vision and a strong determination to overcome them will be vital to your final success. Be mentally ready to put mistakes and obstacles behind you and just move on to the next thing.
Here I’m talking physical and mental health. There’s sometimes a feeling when starting a business that you need to work all day every day, or that by doing more work you will achieve success more quickly. That’s true to a point but there comes a time when physical and mental exhaustion actually slow progress down. Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint so you need to conserve energy and be ready to use it appropriately at the right time. Sometimes you do need to pull an all-night session but don’t be afraid of giving yourself some time off afterwards.
Find yourself a mentor or coach who you can use as a sounding board or source of advice. Very often simply talking through an issue will help find a solution or put it into perspective. Avoid using a life partner as a sounding board because their advice is unlikely to be neutral and it may end up putting a strain on the home relationship.
As part of your business plan you will work out your cash flow for the first year or 18 months. Once you’ve done that then go back bad double the amount of money you think you will need. Nine times out of ten it takes longer to get the cash flowing in like you expected and the last thing you want is to be constantly asking the bank for more.
Don’t be afraid of changing your plan but understand the differences between reacting in a structured and flexible manner to unexpected outcomes and having no plan at all and just reacting. You may have started with a clear direction about how you want things to work but always be open to recognizing that plans need to change if success is to be maximized.
Believe me, behind each of the comments above is a little bit of personal history and pain. I, like many before me, learned the hard way; you now have some of the tools to help you avoid making the same mistakes.