5 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know Before Starting A Business
When I first started out in the world of business, I thought I was bullet proof. I had just left a high end corporate role, where I managed a team, had access to all kinds of resources, from IT, service and help desks, payroll and admin, marketing, HR, sales, you name it. As a senior executive I could call on these resources as and when needed to get things done. So you may say I had a certain level of influence. Boy was I in for a rude shock when I left this environment where I had created a name for myself to one where I had to start operating my own business and there was no one but me!
I’m going to share some of my pains below and the 5 things I wish I knew before I got started in business because in all honesty may have avoided some of the choices I made, and I’m sure I would have either made or saved thousands of dollars and definitely saved countless hours trying to figure things out on my own. However, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I hope to pass these learnings on to aspiring entrepreneurs to help fast-track them on their journey.
So here are the 5 things I wish I knew before I got started in business:
1. Do Your Due Diligence – You Could Be Barking Up The Wrong Tree
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you and others around you are excited – especially if its a ‘ground floor opportunity’ or a ‘once in a life-time opportunity’. Believe me I know all about it – especially if the business you are in or considering involves a substantial investment of your precious time and hard-earned money. Do your research, ask questions, take your time to consider and re-consider the options. Is this business going to give you everything you want? i.e. is it the right vehicle to help you achieve some of your life goals? Is it sustainable? What are the risks involved and how easily could you walk away from it if you had to?
2. Be Humble And Seek The Right Help And Advice – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
This comes back to my point of leaving your corporate ego at the door when you begin or walk-in to your business. I used to think I knew everything and this cost me dearly in terms of making mistakes with marketing, sales, applying technology and even down to how to resolve issues. I didn’t have good advice and tried to do everything myself including my book-keeping and my tax – 2 things I hated more than anything. Learn to outsource these, manage your time better and with the right advice, focus on ‘growing’ your business.
3. The Grass Is Not Always Greener – Avoid Bright Shiny Objects
I ran into this very early on where every opportunity thrown at me looked like something I could do on the side and at one stage I had my hands in 4 different opportunities. Suffice to say, I was so distracted and stretched I performed poorly at all 4 of them. I quickly had to re-focus on my life’s purpose and pick the avenue I was going to dedicate 100% of my attention. From this point onwards my attitude changed and my results dramatically improved.
4. Constant And Never Ending Improvement – Your Business Can Only Grow As Fast As You Do
I used to believe once I had attained my MBA, I had reached the pinnacle of my education. How wrong this proved to be! The world is moving so quickly that information is becoming obsolete at a faster rate than ever. Technology changes mean that even basic training, skills and expertise need to be constantly refined or you risk falling way behind. Along with keeping my professional skills current, my big learning was work harder on my personal development. This has proved the best investment of all, because when you grow your mindset, you develop a greater understanding of the world and your place in it, you learn the skills to succeed despite the odds, you learn that it’s ok to stand out from the crowd and most importantly you learn how to better serve others and give back. All these lessons are critical in being successful at life, let alone in business.
5. Be Really Really Good At Your Numbers – Managing Cashflow Is Critical When Starting Out
I had some substantial savings when I left the corporate world and I foolishly spent money on things that were frivolous at the time, buying fancy business cards, going out to business lunches and dinners, paying for marketing I hadn’t thought through and purchasing stock and equipment I didn’t really need. Basically I did not manage my cashflow which had completely dried up. I was living off savings and credit and on the false pre-tense that I was still successful because of my past corporate background and income. This was no longer the case and I had to quickly adjust my lifestyle and habits. It was a humbling experience and out of desperation I learnt to better manage my cashflow or risk not being able to pay the bills on time, a situation I was not comfortable in facing. Don’t leave it too late. Start planning a budget ahead of time.
Anyway, there you have my 5 learnings. Remember, these are the basic fundamentals in running any business. You can skip these steps, but it will surely come back to haunt you later, so practice these diligently and give yourself the best shot at success.
Did these 5 ideas help you? Are there any others in your experience you feel are useful to share? Reply below to leave a comment and let us know your situation. We’d love to hear your thoughts, as your insights can help many others just like you. Best responses will get shared on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing your feedback!
Gavin Sequeira is the author of the much acclaimed book ‘Break Free From Corporate’. Make sure you get your copy today to kickstart your transition from corporate and into your business. If you would like to contribute, please contact us through the “Contact” page and we look forward to connecting with you!
Great name, Gavin ‘Break Free from Corporate”, and congratulations on your book.
My tip, which I still am struggling with is, ‘be prepared for the passion to take you over’. When you take your own path, and pursue what you love, passion takes over. Time disappears. Passion is a difficult master. It needs to be gently nurtured or it will only be about what you create. Invoices do need to be raised, bills paid, and time found to promote your achievements.
Thanks Janid, I must credit that to a good friend and mentor of mine Dale Beaumont. And you’re, passion is what usually drives people early on in their business. Walt Disney, Apple, Facebook are all great examples. Passion definitely should be nurtured. At the same time it makes sense to get a hold of a good business advisor or business coach that can guide you in putting a plan of action that you can follow, so that you always stay focused on outcomes, especially early in the game when cashflow is so critical.