Warning…this is another tough love session today, so if you're not in the mood, move…
There’s a lot that goes into starting and running a business, no doubt, but there are some broad concepts I really wish more new business owners understood. These are often not realized until you’ve been in the game a while and you start to see just what it takes to be a business owner. And trust me, you don’t want to learn these by trial and error…just take a few minutes to read and save yourself a few years of headaches.
So if you’re getting ready to start a business or you’re still in those early days and months, keep reading.
#1 Long term results matter way more than short term successes
I know the awesome feeling of that quick cash from taking any client willing to come in the door or when you get to attend some marketing event where a few people tell you how much they want to book and they’ll definitely call you…those things are great. But as a business owner, your mind needs to constantly be on the long-term. I’m not saying those things don’t matter, because heck yeah, in those early days those things can keep your bank account and your sanity going. But, every action needs to be entirely devoted to the long-term goals of your business; building a solid, amazing clientele that fits you and your business perfectly, networking relationships that, while it may take time, will pay off eventually, the investments that will give you the biggest return, even if you don’t see it for a few months or even a few years. It’s this long-term strategy that keeps you focused on the most important aspects of your business and prevents you from acting out of desperation.
#2 Build solid systems early on
Whether it’s the way you handle your finances, run your numbers, intake and rebook clients, answer the phone, or literally any other facet of your business…solid systems make a huge difference. If you can create and implement these early on in your business, they become second nature to you, so that after a while they’re just part of how you do business and don’t really have to think about it much. This frees up your mind and your schedule to make sure you can prioritize the most important aspects of your business. While it’ll take a little trial and error to figure them out early on – testing, tweaking, and retrying all kinds of steps in your systems – the time you invest here will pay off exponentially over the years to come, so don’t skip this step in the business building process.
#3 Work-life balance is a constant juggling act
All kinds of people talk about the importance of a healthy work-life balance, but please know that you’re human and this is a constant juggling act for most business owners. To say yes to a surprise family event, you’ll likely have to forego an important business matter, and vice versa. There are trade-offs and no matter how simplistic your lifestyle, it’s likely that you’ll struggle here and there with balancing business ownership with your personal life and self-care. And just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, life will probably come along and throw you a curveball…because you know…life. So just remember that it’s normal, give yourself some grace, keep things simple, and do the best you can.
#4 You can’t – and shouldn’t – please everyone
I preach all the time about the importance of having an ideal client profile worked up so you know exactly who you’re marketing to, exactly who you’ll be working to get on your table; and this is part of that. You cannot, and should not, try to please everyone. You don’t want every client. You don’t want to try every marketing opportunity. You cannot be all things to all people. You just can’t. Accept it, find your specific section of the market that you do want, and focus on them.
#5 You get what you pay for
When you invest in your business, whether it’s sources out your branding visuals, hiring a web designer, or hiring people on, cheaper is not always better. In fact, it’s most often not better. I’m not saying you should always go high-end by any means; you can find affordably priced services from a variety of amazing professionals, but do the job of making sure you’ll really get what you want and need, whether you feel like it’s a good deal or a costly investment.
#6 Plan, research, plan, and research some more
Flying by the seat of your pants works in some things, and yes, some people just wing it on their way into the business world, but most often, those early days are pretty dang rough to say the least. You can skip some of that if you’ll just take the time upfront to plan your business out – like the full details of everything. It’s not going to be perfect out of the gate, you’ll likely change a lot as you go, and there will be some things you do just have to wing, but there are some core elements to your business that need some serious thought and planning. So plan ahead. And do the research to backup those plans, to make sure those plans are based in reality instead of some pie-in-the-sky idea that has no basis.
#7 Just start
If you want to be a business owner, you’re going to have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. And while yes, plan and research and plan and research some more, there comes a point where you have to get off your butt and do the work and just start. Just pull the trigger and go with it. It’s not going to be perfect. You’re going to screw up. You’re going to wonder why the heck you ever did this in the first place. And then after your little pity party, you’ll pick yourself back up, pull those shoulders back, and say “I’m doing this”. But you’ll never get the opportunity to learn and build and grow and accomplish your dreams if you don’t first just start.
#8 Build your business around your life, not the other way around
I’ve said this so many times…your business has to be built around your life, not the other way around. The first step in determining what kind of business you want, both in the broad sense and in the minute details, is to first decide what you want your life to be like. Plan and design the life you want, the hours you’re willing to work, the flexibility you want, the accomplishments you want to achieve, and everything else. Then design the business that will give you all of that. So many new business owners make the mistake of building a business that they eventually hate because they never stopped to consider what it would really mean for their life; they just chased some arbitrary version of success – one that often wasn’t their own, but what they thought they “should” do based on someone else’s version of success.
#9 You are the problem and the solution
As a business owner, you have to take ownership of yourself just as much as you do your business. That means looking objectively at how you fit into the problems and solutions for your business. It definitely ain’t easy, but you have to be consciously aware of when your own faults are creating business problems; whether it’s laziness – spending too much time on Netflix binges instead of the important business stuff you should be doing – or perfectionism – where you’re wasting time and money trying get things just right and refusing to put them out into the world until then….which means never. This means also being aware of when you’re the solution to your problems. It can be easy to blame everyone else for your problems, and while yeah, there’s all kinds of things that really are the fault of others, there is almost always something you can do to help in solving it. It may not fix everything or make it all perfect, but realize what you can and can’t control, and then do something about it. The sooner you can be self-reflective enough to understand your role in your success, the sooner you’ll take the necessary actions to get you to succeed.