“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
We have all been there. We think we are on the right path. We are ready to start or expand our own business. We are slowly building up our client base, providing a quality product or service, and generally on our way to success.
Then it happens...................
All small business owners know that potential problems are everywhere. We also know that even if we are not at fault, these problems need to be resolved in order to keep our clients happy and our company on the right track.
Of course hindsight is 20/20, but I will share with you 10 things I have learned over the course of my business. Yes, I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I believe it is more important to identify and rectify these mistakes than to believe they could have been averted.
I have learned that:
- I Need to Be Specific in the Scope of My Business
The more you are able to find that “niche” in the market, the easier your road to success will be. By being specific, you are immediately able to set yourself apart.
- I Need to Write a Business Plan
Putting your plan in writing gives it an immediate feeling of “reality”. It does not have to be a long, tedious plan full of “legaleeze”. It does, however, have to be a map of your company. It should outline your purpose, structure, and operating procedures. Remember, this is not set in stone. Most likely it will always be adaptable (and this is a good thing!).
- I Need to Spend My Time on “Smart” Marketing
First and foremost, you need to know where your customers are and Go There! Marketing is all about repetition. Make sure your name is seen frequently no matter what methods you choose.
- I Need to Value My Worth
One of the hardest things for many new businesses to realize is that “time is money”. When you are figuring out the prices for your products or services, it is important to factor in your time.
Each moment you spend has value. The lesson I needed to learn early on is not to short change myself. You may have to study your competition to get a feel for this, but it is worth it - and will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
- I Need to Be Willing to Outsource Things I Can’t (or Just Don’t Want to) Do Myself
We are not all experts in everything. It is much more cost effective to outsource. For example, I have outsourced my taxes from day one. I don’t do my personal taxes, why would I ever attempt to do them for my business? I know that they are done right by my accountant and that he is more likely to keep updated on all regulations more than I ever would!
- I Need to Stay Motivated
It is easy to be “gung ho” in the beginning - sustaining that for the long haul is something else. You need to do whatever it takes to keep things fresh and interesting.
For me, that means re-evaluating at the end of each year and re-inventing myself with what I have learned (check out my end of the year blog article on this here). When I am able to shake things up a bit, it keeps me interested and committed.
- I Need to Find What Works For Me
It is important to realize that what works for someone else may not work for you. Copying someone else’s path to success will most likely result in your failure. Why? Because you need to think of yourself as unique!
It is important to focus on why you are different from your competitors, not how you are the same. As I stated previously, find your unique “niche” and run with it.
- I Need to Realize the Need to Separate “Professional” from “Personal”
One mistake many new business owners make is not realizing the importance of “taking a break”. It is not productive, or healthy, to spend all your waking hours on your business.
I have found that it is essential to “unplug” and recharge. I can then return to work refreshed and able to focus on the tasks at hand.
- I Need to Be Authentic to Build Trust
Building trust is key to creating a “brand” that others want to do business with. You need to have a good grasp of the values under which you want to conduct your business. You then need to align your actions with those values.
Many business owners are under the misguided impression that true “honesty” cannot be accomplished in business. This is a big mistake.
Being “fake” or not genuine will be found out. Those that promise the moon but deliver nothing may win the initial battle, but will surely falter in the long war!
- If I Can, I Need to Go It Alone
“My mistake was putting my product in small shops and letting someone else sell it for me. I will never do that again. I lost sales and money.” -Veronica Nourse, The Cupertino Soap Company
No one knows your business like you do! These words cannot be said often enough. You know the direction you want to go, and you know the steps you are willing to take to get there. Face it, only you know your product or service inside and out.
However, many times new entrepreneurs are afraid to “go it alone”. I was the same. When I originally started my company, I had two other partners. Then, in 2004, I decided to continue on myself.
This was undoubtedly the best decision I could have made. I then had the freedom to take the business in the direction I wanted to go without answering to anyone else.
Yes, I also now have all the headaches and responsibilities, but they are mine! So my advice, don’t let fear hold you back from accepting the challenge.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
The bottom line is despite mistakes and misdirections, you can succeed. Having your own business is at times filled with uncertainty and fear. It is your ability to look past those mistakes and fears that will define you as a business owner and a person. And I Have Faith in you, so now is the time to rise to have Faith in Yourself!
Would you like more information or help with Your Small Business?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (412) 337-1114. I would love to hear from you!
Author: Kimberly A. Kline