Whilst I certainly don't want to come across as being negative, nor putting you off starting a business, the entire journey has been much harder than I ever thought it would be. It has been a very steep learning curve, and for at least the first 12-18 months a rollercoaster of emotions, energy levels, and even, going back and forth around whether or not I actually wanted to continue to be in business.
Looking back over the last six years in business in particular, there are three things I wish I'd known before I started.
1. I wish I'd known how hard I would have to work.
You really cannot know what anything is like until you do it, but I really had no idea just how hard I would have to work. I thought I could swan along to a few networking nights, have a glass of wine, talk to a few people and business would coming 'walking' in my door. I thought I'd work a few hours, do a few things I wanted to do and some how magically the orders would come rolling in.
Well, that was NOT the case!
I learned the hard way, as I'm sure many business owners do.
I learned that I had to work horrendous hours to get things up and running.
I learned that I had to learn so many new pieces of software that my head was spinning.
And, I learned that part of starting a new business was getting stress when the orders didn't roll in!
But, the most valuable thing I have learned about how hard I had to work is that when I did 'get it' and put in the hard yards, the orders did start to roll in, and the customers did come.
I guess the old adage of... The harder I work the luckier I get is actually true!
2. I wish I'd known the importance of marketing.
Of course I knew that marketing was a part of business, but I thought it was maybe putting an ad in a magazine, newspaper or both. I thought it was making some fancy fliers and putting them about a few times, and I thought it was talking about your products and services. But, what I didn't realise was just how many times I would have to do those things, and how much focus there would have to be on marketing.
What I now know is that marketing is 80% of what you do in a business in order to sell a product or service.
Each and every month I have an advertising budget that continually takes my products and services to my audience. And, each and every month I'm working to connect with new prospects to build a database of people to market to.
This process of marketing does not stop. I thought it would. But when I look at the big brands, at the email marketing I receive of special deals each month, of birthday sales, Christmas specials and one-off offers, it's all marketing. The big wheel keeps on turning.
3. I wish I'd known how wonderful success would feel.
If I had known how great it would feel to succeed and to push through when I wanted to quit 1,000 times, I would have kept going in business all those years ago.
It was tough. I was on my own, and I didn't have the skills I have now or the mental and emotional strength to stick at it.
But we can't know what we can't know. We do what we can, and we journey our road until we get to where we are meant to be.
I wasn't meant to succeed in business in 1998. There were other things I was to do between then and 2013; all of the things that gave me the skills and experience I needed to be able to make it in business this time.
And yes... success feels oh so wonderful!
So, those are the three things I wish I'd known before I started in business. Even though, as I said, it really was impossible to truly know them, maybe if I had had more of an inkling of how they all worked, I would have been more... what? More, informed maybe. Yes, more informed.
Question: What would you like to know if you haven't already started a business?
Until next time,