Like many entrepreneurs in today’s startup climate, I was young when I started my first business–26 years old to be exact. While I generated enough revenue to take a salary and scale just a bit, I thought I knew it all then. I thought I could design my own website, manage the books, market the business, and do the actual client work. But boy was I wrong… I eventually had to learn the hard way.
To help you prevent making the same mistakes in business, here are the top 10 things I wish I knew when starting out.
1). Running a business is tough – really tough. I wish I had known that I would be working more than all of my friends (even those who worked in finance, law, or medicine).
2). Taking outside help – I wish I had taken the outside help from friends and/or family when I needed it.
3). Focusing on one area – When I started my first agency, I thought I could offer a number of services including copywriting, publicity, and social media marketing, but once I learned that I only had two of three skills that I offered, I realized that I needed to do one of two things: A). outsource the work where I didn’t have the right skills; or B). stop offering that service.
4). Being lonely – I know being an entrepreneur is very lonely, but then I didn’t. I wish I would’ve made some business friends but I didn’t until after I launched my second business. Other entrepreneurs understand our own struggles, challenges, and triumphs, so it’s important to find the right community.
5). Being flexible and adaptable – When I started my first company, I knew I’d have to be flexible but I didn’t know to which degree, especially when it came to getting paid.
In a service-based business model, I wish I had known that I had to be willing to accommodate each client’s payment terms (which meant net 30 for most). I had to get used to planning mine and my company’s finances to make sure I could stay afloat and manage the lean times.
6). Keeping a business growth journal – When I first started out, I made so many mistakes which now in hindsight, I wish I’ve would’ve documented to share with younger entrepreneurs so they don’t make the same ones.
7). Starting an email list – My dad always told me how important it was to have an email list but I never listened to him. I didn’t start my first “real” email list until my third company, FemFounder.co. Now it has 100k+ subscribers each and growing every day. I learned my email list is like my baby and I guard it with my life.
8). Perfectionism is bad – When I first started in business, I had to make sure everything I did was perfect. This created big problems meeting deadlines.
9). Comparing myself to my peers – I would consistently compare myself to where my peers and competitors were. I would look at the clients they had, their online presence, and overall revenue (if I could find it). After a year, I finally put my down and got to work to scale my business.
10). Not asking for feedback – Maybe I was too proud or just too stupid to ask, but I didn’t ask for feedback on anything I did (from the website to business cards to my brand messaging). I did what I thought was best at the time.
What mistakes did you make as a young entrepreneur? What would’ve you done differently?