Entrepreneur/Franchise Owner of Sylvan Learning Center of Murrieta. Ensuring the educational success in Murrieta/Temecula, California.
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. This rings close to home if you’ve had to learn a lesson the hard way. Starting a business isn’t all beds of roses and definitely not as easy as some people portray. Usually, there are hurdles to jump and challenges that keep coming up. Of course, in my case, I managed to overcome them and keep my business afloat, though it would have been much easier if I had known about some of these challenges beforehand.
Here’s a list of nine things I wish I had been aware of before starting my business that you can learn from as you start yours.
1. It’s more than just being passionate.
Many people often go into particular businesses because they have a passion for it. This was exactly what I did. What I didn’t take into account, however, is the fact that passion is only a tiny bit of all that goes into running a business. Yes, you get to do what you love, but you have to put even more time into developing business strategies, interacting with customers, marketing your products and doing the boring administrative stuff. So, when you do decide to start a company, be ready to do the not-so-fun part, too.
2. Cash flow is crucial.
Cash flow is the lifeline of any business, so no matter what you do, always make sure that your finances are managed. You will run into trouble down the line if your spending is more than your inflow, so there needs to be a balance. The business has to start making money to augment the money being spent.
3. The odds aren’t in your favor.
It’s a popular saying that most businesses fail — some within their first year. No matter how much you try to keep your business afloat, there are just some agents that are determined to work against you. It happened to me, and so I decided to take steps to ensure that I decreased those odds, particularly financially. (Of course, keep in mind that what worked for me might not work for everyone.) In my case, I decided to hold on to my old job while I worked to build the business up. That way, I had money coming in since the business wasn’t generating income at that time.
4. Activity isn’t equal to growth.
You could do a whole lot that, in the end, doesn’t help your business grow. It’s easy to confuse expansion with growth. Thus, adding a new office or more employees or even a new product feature doesn’t translate to growth if you can’t see an increase in profit and customers. Recognize the difference between expansion and growth to be able to measure just how well your business is doing.
5. Optimization and outsourcing are business owners’ best friends.
While it may look like it, you can’t do everything on your own. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to get things done that you aren’t good at, outsource them so that you can focus your energy on other, more productive things. Also, automate any processes that can be automated. There’s really no point wasting precious time sending tedious emails to individual customers when you can automate them to send to everyone at once. As you start your business, remember you aren’t superman or superwoman. Let others and machines do some tasks for you!
6. The numbers don’t lie.
If your business is doing fine, you’ll know from your numbers and vice versa. If you don’t know your numbers, then your business will eventually crumble. You have to know how much it costs to service a customer and how much is being made from that customer, as well as see if the cost is greater than the worth (or vice versa) and act accordingly.
7. Choose the right people to be on your team.
No matter how much you try, you can’t run a successful business on your own. In the beginning, you might be able to, however, when your company starts to grow, the work starts to pile up, and then you’ll realize you need a team. This is when you must tread with caution, as choosing the wrong team can be detrimental to your business. Make sure that the people you bring on board have goals that are aligned with yours and that they’re ready to help you run the business like they would their own.
8. Customer engagement is important.
Nobody wants to do business with a nameless or faceless brand. So, it’s important to actively engage your audience and have a relationship with them. Make your social media platforms, blogs, websites, etc. as engaging as possible and ensure that all queries are responded to promptly. Through this, you can get direct feedback from customers, and it establishes you as an authority figure.
9. Don’t forget to have fun.
It’s normal to get carried away in the hassle of business dealings that you start to lose yourself. Incorporating a little fun into your routine will help keep you sane. Sometimes, the work can be draining and you need your batteries recharged. Don’t work yourself to death. It can be bad for both your health and that of your business.
In conclusion, there’s no one-way approach to business. What worked for someone may not work for another. However, there are some common rookie mistakes that can be avoided, and these tips above can help your business run smoothly and increase your chances of success. While there will definitely be mistakes made at your startup, having the knowledge early on will help you manage them and your business, better.