What I Learned From Owning a Small Business
As a former small business owner I want to tell you upfront that being in business is challenging. As you may know it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes having a good support system to sustain a business. The only part of business I found to be easy was having the drive to complete the services I offered, because it was something I was passionate about. I hope this article will encourage you to either start a business or know that it’s okay to be the person to support other business owners instead.
I didn’t realize how many small business owners were in my family until adulthood. I didn’t think about starting a business until after graduating college and doing freelance work. I had a number of family and friends who asked me to help them with projects for personal and business reasons. I keep track of what I did and used it to apply for other gigs outside of my circle. I was building a portfolio for myself along with a good reputation. It is important to do the work before you start the business.
I remember writing my first business plan in 2012, I still have a copy of the template in a notebook. The plan was lengthy and included questions I couldn’t answer without having help. I only had an idea about what I wanted to do. Instead of just filling out the paperwork and leaving blanks, I decided to find a mentor. I heard about the organization Score after reading an online post from a Facebook friend, who I ended up doing work for on two occasions ironically. Nowadays you can find mini business plan templates. If you will be needing investors or a loan you may want to write a full plan.
After working with a mentor I found out that I needed professional experience before thinking about a business. I gained knowledge on customer relations, consulting, pricing services and so much more over the years. I took the time to learn more about what it took to start and run a business. After doing all the research, I came to the conclusion that I still wasn’t ready.
I’ve heard a number of business owners say that you don’t have a business unless you have customers. I have to agree. The customer will let you know what you’re doing right or wrong in your business. Figuring out a customer’s needs is something that you may find yourself doing throughout your business journey. I also made sure I knew what other small businesses were working on.
In business you want to invest in the things you absolutely need first then maybe a few wants here and there later. For example, instead of having two cell phones, I simply added a line to my personal device. It’s hard enough keeping up with one along with everything else. If your business is online you could definitely save a ton. If you have friends who offer services you could use such as graphic design, ask for help.
Last but not least don’t forget to pay yourself first. I wrote an article years ago talking about how important it is to put money to the side just for you. If you put away a small percentage of each sale then it will amount to something overtime. Why work so hard and have nothing to show for it?
If you’re still contemplating on starting a business, that’s okay. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone in my opinion. There are a number of other ways to invest in your future. A business takes time, energy, and money to maintain. No pressure.