Building a business from scratch with no previous experience is both humbling and completely gratifying. While I view my many mistakes more as feedback rather than failures it would have been a smoother journey had someone shared this knowledge with me out of the gates. Here are 5 things I wish someone had told me before starting my business. Hoping they help shape the path of a new entrepreneur on the rise out there.
1. Investing in your business is a crucial piece of the equation. The old adage “It takes money to make money” holds real value in the world of small business success, especially when you are looking to grow and scale. As a new business owner several years ago, I remember being so scared to spend money. I skimped on anything that I felt wasn’t absolutely necessary to keep the doors open. It was suffocating. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over years it’s this: if you’re unwilling to invest in your own business, then why should anyone else? I understand the spending is scary, but it is vital. And when targeted effectively, can dramatically improve your bottom line.
2. The path to success is not always a straight line. Creating a business plan, setting goals, working toward them and achieving success does not always follow the shortest, easiest or straightest path. You will have set backs, speed bumps, roadblocks and detours along the way. At some point, you will likely feel as if you are swimming upstream. But eventually you find the right path. I have made — and continue to make — a mountain of mistakes, but the path I am on continues to move up the grid even though it may not be straight. In the end, YOU are going to have to blaze your own trail. Just don’t be so focused on the finish line that you forget to enjoy the journey.
3. Not everyone is your customer…and that’s ok. Creating a niche market and truly understanding WHO your customer is (and how they think) will yield much higher returns when budgeting where and how to spend your marketing dollars. It’s like Meredith Hill said: “If you speak to everyone, then you speak to no one.”
4. Invest in people and develop systems. The people you hire are certainly integral to the success of any business. But having the right people without a solid set of systems can be a recipe for disaster. When the team and the infrastructure are equally strong, businesses will generally operate at a high rate of effectiveness.
5. Sometimes you have to just bet on yourself. Each day we have choices and decisions to make, and whether big or small, they create opportunities for us to bet on or against ourselves.
One way you bet against yourself is when you say yes to something, but deep down want to say no. I read once that if you aren’t saying “hell, yeah”, then it should be a no. I have been working hard to incorporate this into my business practice. While it can be challenging at times, saying no has also been very helpful. Get rid of the guilt because as your prioritize your life, you are clearing the way for you to rock the things that really matter. Plus, no amount of betting against yourself is going to help you achieve your dreams.
On the other hand, when you bet on yourself, you take a chance. You are trusting your gut, your instincts and your decision-making process. And when you bet on yourself, you give yourself the chance to win. And win big!
Of course there will be times when the house wins. But remember: the path to success is not a straight line. Rather than looking at these instances as failures, let’s look at them as opportunities for growth, development and learning. Betting on yourself opens you up up to bigger and better opportunities. It gives you permission to chase after your dreams, instead of constantly hedging your bets.
Christa Gurka MSPT, PMA®-CPT
This blog post appeared in an article on Thrive Global.