When you decide to take those first steps into business ownership, it's a relatively unknown realm. Of course, you've read all the books; you've seen all the movies, and you feel as though you've done everything you need to which will make sure that you're fully prepared.
Well, the truth is, there's nothing that can prepare you adequately for taking those first tentative steps as an entrepreneur.
You know your industry like the back of your hand, I get it. But that doesn't mean you know business ownership, and in fact, one of the only things that can really prepare you for the adventure you're about to embark on is experience.
Which is ironic, because how can you get experience unless you're there day after day living the adventure?
So, if you're green around the gills and about to dip an uncertain toe into the turbulent waters of entrepreneurship, here are ten things which nobody tells you, but that you WILL learn for yourself!
1) You become adaptable very quickly.
You can wake up one morning with your world one way, and you can go to bed at night with everything thrown into disarray and with a whole new set of circumstances on your hands.
Relationships change, financial situations change, workloads change. And these changes all happen very quickly.
It's important that when things are going well that you don't look at that as a time to rest, because without putting a consistent effort into your systems and product delivery you could be back to square one before you know it.
On the positive side, if things are going badly it only takes one phone call or meeting to turn that on its head. Relationships are formed, and opportunities present themselves faster than you can keep up with so don't get disheartened if things aren't going as you want them to. They will change, and soon!
Learning how to adapt is an essential personality trait of a business owner, so if you don't know how to do this, you need to seek some guidance!
Those fluctuations are perfectly normal for a new small business so learn how to deal with the ebbs and flows so you can continue with your mission regardless of what's happening around you.
2) You must learn to trust your instincts.
As a new business owner, it might not be the savviest of strategies to make decisions based on your gut, but it is a technique that often has some merit. If something smells fishy to you, it often is. If you get a bad feeling about working with a client, there's often a good reason for that.
Not everyone you come across as a business owner has your best interests at heart so learn how to trust yourself and follow your instincts all the way to success.
3) You must put time into your own business.
When you're busy trying to sell a product, answer the phones and develop systems and procedures which will take your business to the next level, putting time into your business often falls to the bottom of the pile.
It's so important that you're up to date with professional development, that you have an active social media and blogging presence and that you market yourself consistently.
The reason new business owners don’t give this the importance it deserves is because the income isn't always present immediately. It's the customer service and production that brings in the money at this crucial stage, so it's easy to let these things slide.
Everything you do today is an investment in the future of your company, so it's crucial that you start building your brand from day one and, even when you don't think you have the time, be consistent.
Where possible, try to allocate at least one day a week where you can focus on your own business, even if this is a weekend day when everyone else around you is having fun and relaxing, I promise it'll be worth it!
4) The best things in life aren't always free.
When you're on a limited budget, it's natural to take freebies where you can. Free trials here, complimentary programs there, and mate’s rates, oh the mate’s rates are everywhere!
For the most part, you'd be a fool to turn those special offers down, but only because they're a valuable lesson to learn for your future.
When you engage with a professional who's prepared to offer you a discount, you lose your rights to said professional service. Nobody would admit that from the outset, but you become the client that's worked on after hours after the full-paying clients have had their needs met.
It then becomes difficult for you to give your honest opinion on their work, so you find it hard to give feedback. Logo design, web pages, business cards; all those things which can be provided for cheap; I'd urge you to reconsider IF you want to have a say in your final product.
If budgets are tight, always use the services of a freelancer who naturally has lower overheads and can pass those savings on to you. Otherwise, you risk being stuck with a product you hate and paying full price to rectify it anyway.
5) Everyone has an opinion!
Professional or not, everyone has an opinion on how you should operate your new venture. Preferred suppliers, processes and marketing strategies are the first things that people will discuss with you, and the last!
Here's where you need to have confidence in yourself and your systems and stay true to what you believe in. When you start to listen to others opinions on how you should run your business, you risk confusing yourself and losing direction. You never know when their advice might come in useful so always be polite to those offering their opinion, but in the meantime say 'thank you' and smile sweetly!
6) You need online presence.
If you think that you can manage with social media alone in the early days, you can't.
The first place that everyone goes to look for you is online, and it's important that you have at least a basic landing page to greet people when they get there. It doesn't have to be sophisticated, but it does need to exist.
7) You need to learn to multitask.
Multitasking doesn't come naturally for some people, but as a business owner, it is essential. You will be balancing accounts, making sales calls and supplying your product all at one time and it's critical for your reputation that you don't miss a beat.
8) You need a good support system.
Friends, family, loved ones and a business coach; you will need the support of all of them! It's critical that your friends and family encourage you during this time because, while you will be busy, they need to know that you're working towards a bigger purpose. It will be hard to achieve your goals if you have partners and friends upset that you can't make time for them during this period which is vital to the success of your business.
Engage with a freelance business coach who will offer guidance on the best ways to manage these relationships for the good of them, and for your business.
9) You will discover how determined you really are.
When you start a business, it becomes your primary focus. Hobbies, your social life and pretty much everything else gets thrown out the window in favour of your new venture. When things go wrong (which they will), you learn new ways to pick yourself up and try again to get a better outcome. If you fall at the first hurdle, you won't get very far if you're not focussed and determined to look for solutions.
10) The rewards far outweigh any of the bad times.
Business ownership can be turbulent, to say the least. It can be an exhausting emotional roller coaster where you learn a lot about yourself and others around you in an unfamiliar environment. But that aside, it's one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do, and by making use of professional support around you, you won't ever look back!