7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Business

I feel fortunate enough to have gotten a lot of things right in business and still there are many things I wish I knew, that not many people talk about, before I started a business.

The excitement at the beginning is powered by a little naivety, and that’s a good thing! Because many would choose another path and not continue down the path of entrepreneurship if they knew what was coming down the pipeline.

Hindsight is 20/20, the perspective and vision you have after the fact is so much clearer than when you were in the thick of it. I won’t sugarcoat my list with sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. This is real talk. I will not bullshit you because I lived it and made plenty of mistakes so that you don’t have to.

I get asked a lot about what to expect when you’re first starting out. I attracted employees who wanted to open their own studio at some point in their journey and my first question would always be:

Do you love the business side of it more than your passion for what you do?

Many could not answer this with an enthusiastic ‘YES’. That’s when I knew they weren’t quite ready… yet. Which leads me to #1. 

1. You must love running a business

You will spend 15-20% of your time with clients doing what you love and 80-85% of your time marketing, selling, admin work, answering emails, and managing money. Running the business side of things is your first priority because without it you won’t be able to do the thing you love to do and you won’t actually have a business! Owning a business means you are a business owner first, then a practitioner, coach, or service provider.

The four key areas most new entrepreneurs, coaches, and practitioners avoid diving into are:

·      Paying attention to your numbers and understanding what they mean – cash flow management, income statements, how to read financial statements and make effective business decisions based on the numbers

·      Getting great at sales because that is your livelihood. It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is and if you get 100 leads per month if you don’t know how to convert them into a paying client

·      Understanding how to market to and respond to your client’s wants and needs and how to adapt and adjust when they change

·      Optimizing, leveraging, and automating as much as you can, as quickly as you can with systems – the only true thing that will give you the freedom you want

2. Spend more time taking care of your health and well-being than you think you need to

When you spend all your time, energy, and resources on your business and don’t make time for the things that actually keep you healthy you will eventually break down, burnout, and find yourself unable to work at the level that gets you results. I know, because I did this to myself. I worked, hustled, didn’t take care of my body or my energy, and lived with chronic pain for 4.5 years. My business performance got worse and worse as my body fell apart. You are no good to your business unhealthy, overweight, sleep deprived, ill, or in a hospital.

  • Protect your sleep
  • Eat for energy
  • Move your body
  • Breathe
  • Practice self-care and stress management

3. Activity ≠ Growth

Just because you are staying ‘busy’ doesn’t mean you are doing the tasks that actually get you closer to achieving your goals. Most people live out their day working on urgent tasks, but don’t place an importance on the actual tasks that lead to results. Doing activities that promote growth, usually, marketing and sales, are the biggest keys to getting the results you want. If you are doing a lot of things that are keeping you super busy and you’re not getting the results you expect, it may be time to re-evaluate those tasks.

4. Things take longer than you think

I’m a bit amused by the “Make 6 figures in 60 days” ads I see everywhere. There are a lot of ‘relative’ factors that go into that to make it a possibility. In my experience, if you make any adjustments and changes in your business, expect to see results, for better or for worse, in 90 days. If you change your marketing expect to see the results of it in 60 to 90 days. If you make adjustments in your finances, like cutting costs, expect to see a turnaround in your finances in 60-90 days. Yes, a lot of patience is required to run a business!

Side Note: Please track your changes so that you know what is working and what isn’t. Without tracking, you are running your business blind and making guesses as what to do vs. tracking reality so that you can make intelligent decisions based on your evidence from what you find.

5. All the best strategies in the world will not make up for a poor mindset, limiting beliefs, or negative emotions.

If your belief system does not match up with your goals, I don’t care what strategy you try, you will not get there. 90% of the work new entrepreneurs and practitioners need to focus on are their beliefs, their mindset, and their emotional state. Do the work to get those aligned with your goals first before you seek out the latest strategies and tactics to run your business. They simply won’t work and a lot of time will pass with growing frustration!

6. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what to do with your life or business

This is your business, your livelihood, and your future. When someone tells you what to do, it immediately disempowers you and if it backfires you get to blame them and not take any ownership of the outcome.

I wish I learned how to trust myself and my instincts a lot sooner than I did. It is your responsibility to understand things you don’t know and to educate yourself on things you don’t understand. Nobody else’s. It is your responsibility to understand what the numbers mean, not a financial advisor. You can’t hand off things that you need to understand to other people to decide for you. For example, you are held responsible for taxes, your financials, investments, it’s up to you to have an understanding of it so you can make good decisions. Not have someone else make decisions for you.

Think of your most important assets: time, energy, and money… don’t leave these up to someone else.

You are the only one responsible for your business, your life, and your results. Other people aren’t living your life, they aren’t supporting your family, and nothing you do will affect them, but it will affect you. Make decisions that are best for you and your family and don’t let anyone tell you what to do.

7. Understanding and Tracking Your Assets

·      Your Cashflow

·      Your List

·      Your Network

·      Your Time & Energy

Without these four items working for you, it will be difficult to sustain a healthy business long-term. Any break in one of these and the business comes crashing down. Cash is king, your list is the lifeblood of your business, your net worth truly lives in your network, and when you have high energy and more time you can take advantage of more opportunities, make better decisions, and handle stress with more flexibility and curiosity.

Entrepreneurship is no easy path, it can get lonely, bumpy, and challenging. AND it can be the most rewarding, exhilarating ride towards potentiality there is. There are many more things I wish I knew, but these are the main ones that would have set a standard for me to work with. I hope you found this useful, even though it is one of my more real, raw, and relevant emails I have written. I want to give you the truth and to help you get past the ‘survival stage’ of running a new business!

Just one more thing…

Celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small. I think I would have felt less self-doubt and had more confidence if I had taken the time to celebrate all the things that were going well vs. obsessing about the things that weren’t. I hope you choose to celebrate yourself and your wins because the journey is long and every win counts towards the bigger picture.

Keep it simple, make it easy,

Christine Wilborn