So you want to start your own business? You see the Ferraris and the Benjamins about #entrepreneurship on Instagram. You think, “I can do that.” (I did not. But you might.) To save you some surprises and pain, here are 10 things you should know before you start your own business.
Welcome to the uncensored, unglamorous side of starting and running your own business. Or, forget VCs and Ferraris, be prepared to eat a lot of supermarket ramen.
The wonderful Chris Voss invited me to come on his show to discuss the challenges of entrepreneurship. If you have ever wanted to know what it is really like to own a business, watch the interview, below.
Would I trade this for a regular office job? Not. Just. Yet. I have rolled the dice and I want to watch this play out, for better or worse.
Here is what you have to do to succeed. Below are a few of the topics we covered during the interview.
- You must quickly learn the difference between price versus value. This isn’t just about what to charge for services, it is also about what to pay for basic items. Goodbye, national brands, hello, store brands.
- You will let go of your snobbery. This is hard to do when you have degrees and a lot of expertise. Yes, you do have to ask colleagues and clients for reviews of your products and services. Yes, you do have to be prepared for criticism and bad reviews. You will be rated with stars like you are a restaurant.
- Get used to Really. Long. Hours. 14 hour days are common. Why? You have to be: the web designer, web developer, copywriter, brander, marketer, accountant, sales team, and oh, then you have to deliver the services, too…and create processes, documentation, contracts, and billing.
- Be prepared for regular anxiety and panic attacks. Either too much work or not enough. Financial strains when you pour your savings into a business. One way to ameliorate this stress is to determine how to book out work weeks and months ahead while not losing clients to someone who can complete the work faster.
- You have to figure out what is not working and cut that cord quickly. It could be the wrong fit with client requirements or a potential business associate. Learn to vet clients up front for the best fit for you both. There is no judgment here. Sometimes, two people cannot work together.
- Learn to accept being cash poor with inconsistent income for the first few years. You may miss some family events like weddings when clients pull out or change their mind, and you don’t have your savings built back up.
- Other issues you must prepare yourself for include frustration, anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt, and judgment from others because everything will take longer than you think.
- Know that your relationships will suffer. You work long hours and it is hard to maintain friendships, the hours and money ups and downs can create strains on romantic relationships, and you have to skip vacations and weekends away with friends and family.
- Figure out how to handle sleeping problems. Long hours + no downtime means it is hard for your body to relax. We entrepreneurs tend to drink a lot of coffee, and then adrenal fatigue sets in. As well, you may mull over client problems, business problems, finances, or relationship strains caused by having your own business.
- You will or may develop really bad food habits without realizing it. Whatever you really like to eat, you will soon find yourself grabbing whatever you can. And depending on your cash flow, you will have to give up that organic everything and be happy with the produce and meat at your local mainstream grocery store. You’ll find yourself packing on a few pounds, as the time to exercise meaningfully falls by the wayside.
You won’t get it correct from the start, but that is OK. And if it does fail, you can say you tried.
Additional Thoughts on “10 Things You Should Know Before You Start Your Own Business”
Remember that your company is not you. It is similar to a child. You have to let it grow and bud and develop its own personality.
If I could go back in time, what do I wish I had known? I wish I had known to delegate sooner, and have more money saved up to get through the first two years. If you think it will take you one year to become profitable, then save for two years. That money in that saving account will go to support your business and personal expenses.
Watch your pennies, not just your dollars. When you bootstrap a company from scratch, you will find you have unexpected expenses and no matter how much you have in savings, you will burn through it quickly. Be careful about every expense, whether it is paperclips or monthly recurring software fees. Also, value your time. Just because you can do something or enjoy doing it, doesn’t mean you should. Hire a VA, outsource your website development, pay an accountant, get a housecleaning service, and never do free work. Barter, yes, but never do free work. Finally, no matter how little cash you have, tithe 10% to charity. Service matters, and it sets the tone for your business, brand, and company culture.
—Be Frugal With Your Cash and Delegate (Lesson #45, Huffington Post, “50 Leadership Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks”) by Jewel H. Ward, Impact Zone Consultancy
People starting their businesses in their parents’ basement is a thing because the financials are inconsistent. It’s not fun or glamorous living with mom and dad — we all want to be independent adults. But, it provides a safe jump off spot while you iterate and eventually make a profit.
Good luck. I hope this post on the 10 Things You Should Know Before You Start Your Own Business helps you manage your future business better.
If you would like to hear more from Chris Voss, you can find The Chris Voss Show Podcast on:
- Tunein @tunein #NowPlaying http://tun.in/piEQH
- iTunes! http://apple.co/1IsK7Ht
- Google Play (Android) http://bit.ly/2lcdBHs
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I would love to hear your comments and questions about your own business experience. Please tells me about them in the comments section, below, or privately on our contact page.