I had a nice, great paying job and I quit it. Yeah, I’m a quitter. And I would never take it back. I love my entrepreneurial journey, but even I, a seasoned business consultant, had some surprises in store for me. Here are my top 5.
Supportive Family and Friends: My husband is a business owner, and has been for over 25 years, so he gets it. It’s been a long time since he actually started his business, but he’s had times in his business where he has reinvented his business model. When I needed a hat to go to a fancy Kentucky Derby party at the Governor’s Mansion, he made one for me. And my friends are super supportive even though most don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when they ask “How’s it going?” But they ask, and that’s what is most important. There are several people in my life that are a bit more skeptical (I’m not naming names) but even they help me by checking my assumptions about our business. I was surprised how much I would lean on my family for support, and am grateful for their consistent belief and faith in me.
A Plan: I needed a plan. You’d think the fact that I was a business consultant and coach for 15 years would mean that I just had it all figured out, wouldn’t ya? Well, you’d be WRONG. I, just like everyone else, needed a path forward. I had to do all the same work that goes into a business plan: researching competition, drilling down into a niche target market, and outlining roles and responsibilities for members of the team. I know there are some that think business plans are so 1995, but I am a firm believer that they are a vital part of starting a business. They don’t have to be 25 page, full-color charts and graphs, either. In fact, using strategies from the Lean Startup, you can create a one-pager that gets to the heart of your business. I was surprised how often I would refer back to our plan, because there were times when I was pulled in the direction of something shiny and needed to be pulled back to our mission.
Emotions: I felt like I was on a rollercoaster of emotions. Daily. Wins and loses feel different when they are tied directly to YOU. I found that in one minute, I could be celebrating getting a new client, in the next, grieving the loss of a different client. Networking events are draining to me, but I know I have to do them. I hate the idea of going, but once I’m there, I’m in it. It’s a whirlwind of highs and lows, and luckily I have a business partner that gets it and sees me through. I drew a little drawing about what it’s like daily. And copyrighted it because it’s awesome and I don’t want anyone to steal it.
Business Best Friend: It is so important to have some friends that actually get what it takes to make the leap into starting a business. Networking events, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn can be great places to find someone to celebrate your wins and supports you in your losses.
Timing: It’s going to take longer than I thought. Yeah, I know everyone says that…but I’m serious. It’s going to take double the time I thought it was going to take to get to the revenue numbers and growth I had hoped for. But you know what, my business is better for it. I have tested, pivoted, and practiced a hundred times. I am well on my way to meeting my revenue figures now, and can’t wait to blast through my goals. But it takes a bit longer than one would hope but usually good things do come to those that wait. (In my case, not so patiently).
So there you have it, my 5 surprising things I learned when I first started a business. What would you add to the list?
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All the best,