Who hasn’t dreamed of being their own boss at one point or another? The idea of owning your own business can be incredibly alluring, but it is not all sunshine and rainbows. Starting a business requires passion, dedication, patience, and just about all of your time.
That said, starting a business can also be one of the most rewarding, fulfilling experiences of your life. As an independent agency that specializes in helping other business owners flourish, we have seen the challenges and joys of entrepreneurship from every angle. If you think you’re ready to take your dream to reality, here are the top 6 things to know about starting a business before you begin.
1. Passion Only Goes So Far
As a business owner, you should probably love what you do, but passion will not be enough on its own. You also need the discipline to persevere when your passion wanes, when work just feels like work. It happens to even the most passionate among us, so be prepared to grind it out from time to time (but hopefully not all the time!)
To keep your initial passion burning for the long haul, it’s important to schedule and take vacations. Work-life balance and having time to recharge are key not just for your personal health, but for the sake of your employees and your business too. Just like you need to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others on a plane, if you don’t take care of yourself, soon you won’t be able to take care of anything else either.
2. Know Your Numbers
Before you make the jump to starting your own business, first dig into the details. Develop a business plan, robust financial models, and gain a realistic understanding of what it will take to succeed.
Owning your own business has major tax repercussions, so you need to know how becoming an LLC, S-Corp, and C-Corp affect the taxes you pay as a business and as a person. Putting in some initial legwork to understand the best way to structure and incorporate your business can save you money (and headaches) as your business begins to grow.
It is also important to know that you may become non-lendable initially without significant capital. Do you only have $20k to start a business? You won’t get a bank loan for the business until you’ve shown repeatable profits over time (usually 1-2 years).
Starting your own business can complicate your personal finances as well. For example, being approved for loans to buy a home or a car will become more challenging because you are now “self-employed” and lenders want to see at least 2 years of positive tax returns before they believe you won’t default on your loan if your business goes under. This is regardless of your credit score. If you are quitting your day job to start your business, building a financial safety net before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is a good way to weather the tumultuous early years.
3. You’re Going to Want to Quit
No matter how badly you want this, at some point you are going to want to quit on it all. This is where your long-term motivation comes in. Set goals, build a vision board, or whatever strategy works for you to keep your eyes on your “why” when the going gets tough. And it will! Staying engaged in your day-to-day tasks and working to find meaning in the difficult times will be essential to working through challenges that may feel insurmountable in the moment.
Many people quit just before things turn around. Remember that the same thing is true for the good times and the bad: they do not last. Learning to ride out the highs and the lows is one of the most important skills for entrepreneurs.
4. You Need a Strong Network
Don’t fall victim to the “lone entrepreneur” complex. Being at the top can feel very lonely, don’t make it harder than it already will be. Developing a strong team to shoulder the load, and a network of fellow business owners with whom you can celebrate and commiserate with is essential.
Most sales will come from those that know and refer you, so be sure to expand your professional network. Doing great work for your clients or customers is the best thing you can do in finding more business: make sure you are cultivating this virtuous circle. Great marketing but poor execution will get you nowhere fast.
5. There is No Set Path
Don’t come to business ownership with a preconceived notion of what success looks like: it is different for everyone! Your path is unique, and there will be failures and setbacks along the way. Be ready to be a trailblazer!
You’ll also need to react to changes in your business. Pandemics, tech disruptions, and changing laws can all affect your business strategy. Be prepared to pivot and respond to survive. The vision that you had when you initially started your business will need to change at some point, so you will need to make peace with that. Being able to “kill your darlings”, or saying goodbye to ideas you hold dear but are no longer effectively serving the needs of your business, is an important but difficult attribute that every successful entrepreneur must eventually master.
6. A Compelling Story is Key
What’s your mission, your reason for starting your own business? Clearly communicating this is vital for you and your team to connect back to during challenging times. It is also needed for facilitating a genuine relationship with customers. Without a strongly communicated story, you will inevitably lose your way.
Our society is shifting towards more personalization and wanting to know who they are doing business with. Consumers are increasingly savvy. They don’t want to just be sold a product or service. They want authenticity. They want to do business with real people with real stories. The best marketing and branding strategies start with simply being yourself.
Are you still convinced that starting a business is the right choice for you? We’re here to help you make it happen. Greenlit Marketing is a boutique digital marketing agency made by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Optimize digital marketing for your business with help from our expert team and set the foundations for your success. Get in touch today!