A while back I was chatting to a new business owner when she asked me what I wish I had known back when I started my 1st business. It got me thinking back to those early days and the excitement, stress and nerves that were all wrapped up in my new baby – my business!
Here are the 5 things I wish I had known before starting my business:
1. You won’t make money overnight
My 1st business plan is an absolute hoot to read. I reckoned I would be turning over a million pounds by the end of my 1st year, would have a team of 5 employed and basically be holding back the stampede of people flocking to use my matchmaking services.
Did that happen? Erm, no.
This was my first experience in business and I was naive and over optimistic. Luckily I had enough cash to keep me going through those drier than the Sahara months but I really wish I had known that money wouldn’t be coming is as quickly as I thought AND that when I did make money, large proportions of it needed to be reinvested into the business.
2. You will work harder than ever before
I had this vision that I would take Fridays off and work a 4-day week. What I didn’t realise was that when you have your own business you need to be ‘on’ a lot more. But there’s a big but….it’s totally different because this is YOUR business. It’s for YOU. This is why it’s so important to set up a business you’re passionate about, you will be working extra hard to make it a success but honestly? You won’t mind because it’s like your baby!
3. You spend less time doing ‘your job’
This often surprises new businesses owners and it certainly surprised me! I thought I would spend most of my time matchmaking, which makes sense given I was launching a matchmaking business. But what I hadn’t considered, was that as a solopreneur I would also be wearing a lot of other hats – like doing the admin, finances, writing contracts, hosting meetings, networking and spending shocking amounts of time trying to do things like synch up emails! There are so many things to be done, even for the smallest business that you’ll actually spend less time doing your ‘job’ that you think….in the early days anyway!
4. Not everyone will be rooting for you
Let me start by saying SO many people have been incredibly supportive of me on my entrepreneurial journey, but I definitely came across friends in particular who weren’t that supportive. They either didn’t ‘get’ the business, questioned everything I did with it (by saying things like ‘oh that doesn’t sound like you’ll make much money, who would want that?) or showed no interested at all. It was a tough pill to swallow. Here’s the thing though – you’re always going to have a few haters. A few people who are jealous that you have the balls to follow through with your business idea. I know I sound like your mum but they’re mostly just jealous and don’t want to see you become more of a success or earn more money than them. Thankfully, you’ll have many true supporters and they will be the ones who will keep you going and stand by your side no matter what.
5. It can be a little lonely
In the past few years co-working spaces have cropped up everywhere and they are like a godsend. I just wish they had been more around when I launched my 1st business! I found the transition from working in busy offices and teams, to working at home in my 1 bed flat at the kitchen table, challenging.
Suddenly you don’t HAVE to be up at a certain time. You don’t HAVE to work set hours. You have freedom and flexibility and that’s great, it’s always a little overwhelming. My flat used to be so quiet and I missed the general chit chat you have with colleagues or someone making me a cup of tea. Oh and the gossip 😉
I found a way round it though. I set myself a routine. Every day I would work from a coffee shop for a few hours. I started to reach out to others in the industry to connect. I went to networking events, met other female founders. I had to be pro-active or else I could easily spend the week alone in my flat on the laptop, not healthy!
Now you lucky ladies have places like The League, our membership platform and community for female entrepreneurs, so you’re never truly on your own – you always have someone to ask advice and get support from. Not yet a member? Hop on over and join us here, you won’t regret it!
Hindsight is a wonderful thing…
Overall, I have learnt so many things since starting my business. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but actually, most of these lessons you need to go through to learn. Starting a new business is a challenge. A daunting, scary but yet also exciting one. Embrace it and enjoy the ride.
Until next time…