7 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Business

A lifestyle website was launched one year ago to help people make informed buying decisions. It’s a growing platform with helpful reviews and buying tips written by experts in each area. Although the company has managed to keep its mission intact and has hired many employees, I have made many mistakes.

This isn’t a common problem, though. Ask any business person, and they’ll be able to tell you the number of mistakes they made during their careers. Hindsight is always 20/20. These are the seven greatest mistakes I have made.

1.You don’t have to do everything.

A great strategy is to let go. It is a great strategy to let go.

It has worked well for me to ask others to help because they can take on more responsibility as the company grows. I’m able to share in my company’s management and do what is necessary for an owner or manager.

2.Find mentors and meet up regularly.

This is a return to the earlier point about trying to do it all yourself. Mentors can save you money and help you grow your business. It is worth it to have access to their contacts and insight. This could save you from some costly mistakes.

You can think of all the situations where this could be helpful: if your ideas aren’t clear on how to proceed with your company, or you need some advice on what amount of salary you should increase based upon your recent successes. Mentors won’t just give you advice; they will also know best.

3.Look for like-minded people and not just like-skilled.

We launched my website together with four writers. Each of us worked remotely. Each of us wanted to create something greater than ourselves. We all knew very little about SEO, business operations, marketing, or marketing despite our shared passion. It took us a year to find equally motivated people with different skills, and things started to take off.

4.Prepare to be three times as big

I wish I had known the three-times rule before starting my online business. This is about company infrastructure. Think about it: If my company tripled in size overnight, would I still have the right people to run it? They would be able to identify their roles and the expectations they have in resolving problems. There won’t be enough desks or computers to support all the employees as we grow. Consider the workload of your team. How can you deal with the extra strain that comes along with scaling operations without spending more time upfront?

These potential scenarios will become a reality, and you won’t want them wasted because you didn’t plan.

5.Neglect the naysayers

You will be questioned by people when you tell them about your company. Both your friends and strangers will have negative or passive-aggressive opinions. It’s your company, not theirs. When you decide to take on your initiative and pursue something that interests you, it’s a good idea to be bold. At first, I was unsure of what I was doing. Were we able to afford enough money for payroll? Were we able to afford another employee? Are we growing at an acceptable rate? It would help if you weren’t a naysayer. Believe in what you want, and don’t listen to anyone else’s opinions. You can pursue it and achieve it.

6.It’s OK to end a business partnership.

This is an important one. This is a big one. Their product may not be the right fit for your company’s long-term viability. After six months of working together, we knew that our first client would not be a good partner or customer. This even though he was paying $600 per month in outstanding debt.

This client was responsible for 80 percent of our headaches but contributed less than 5 percent to our revenue. The numbers didn’t add together. You can make a significant difference by reducing the time spent on these tasks and minimizing the inconveniences. We were able to use all that free time for marketing strategy and double our top clients. It was an integral part of our company’s growth for the next quarter. Although it might seem counterintuitive at first, sometimes letting go of a business can open up new revenue opportunities.

7.Make sure you pay for the right tools for your business.

When you are just starting your business, it can be hard to accept the cost of software and other services. However, this investment could pay off in the long term. Software is costly upfront. There are no guarantees that it will work well or if the company will keep it. Every piece of software I buy is evaluated based on the lifetime value, not an immediate cost-benefit analysis. Because once my team members start using a service, they usually see significant benefits, which often pay off relatively quickly.

Getty Images charges us a yearly subscription for our photos. Although it’s expensive, the time and effort saved by using Getty Images images instead of searching for them are priceless. We are protected from lawsuits and have our work not taken down by the legal security that these high-quality photos offer. 

Startups are likely to make mistakes as they build their business. To be successful, you will need mentors to learn from and to lean on. Some things can be avoided. However, it is OK to make mistakes. You can test new ideas and receive feedback to let you know if any issues or improvements need to be made.

Yes, it can be challenging to change your business model or test new ideas for feedback and then find that they aren’t working out as you expected. But every failure or setback is a learning opportunity if you don’t allow your pride to get in the way.

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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