5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business

Lessons for new business owners

business lessons

Along your journey of starting and running a business you will no doubt experience loads of life and business lessons.

Lessons are important because they help you grow as a business owner and a person. I don’t like to use the term failures, because lessons are feedback that maybe you should try something a little differently next time around.

I don’t think we should try and be fortune tellers either because I believe that every business owner has to live and learn their own lessons. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to get a bit of a heads up.

Here are my top 5 lessons I learnt starting out.

1. Stuff doesn’t always go to plan

I’ve always been a bit of a planner. As a mum I find plans even more critical to ensure things run smoothly. I almost always know how things will turn out…at least that was until I started my business.

When I first started out, I naively and half jokingly remarked to people that ‘my business will grow organically’. By that, I meant that I had a good network of people who loved what I did and thought my business idea was great. So even though I worked in marketing for a living, I didn’t think I’d have to do much self-promotion. Yeah, its sounds pretty darn stupid in hindsight but I was new to business.

The silence was deafening. There were no knocks on the door. My phone was deadly quiet. My business wasn’t growing organically or at all.

I quickly picked myself up and started applying the same marketing lessons I had taught my clients and came up with a new plan that paid off.

So have a plan. Follow the plan, while it works. If it doesn’t work out the way you thought, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on to the next plan.

Trust me there will be plenty of times your plans will derail. Remember though your resilience and how you respond to setbacks will determine your success.

2. It’s okay to say no

It’s tempting when you first start out to say yes to every opportunity, especially in service-based industries.

Yes sometimes you have to do things you don’t have the time or passion for – whether it’s so you can pay the bills or there’s promise of something bigger and better you have to say yes when you really want to say no.

But let’s look at it from this point of view. If you are really passionate about doing X kind of work but you’re busy doing Y work (because you have to), you’re essentially closing the door on opportunities for X.

So whenever possible, know what you DO want to do, ask yourself ‘do I really need to say yes to this’ and be okay with saying no.

3. Boundaries are really important

As a mum my motivation starting a business was to have flexibility for family commitments. The problem is I didn’t have any boundaries in place, so before long I was regularly burning the midnight oil and sitting at my computer every weekend.

The moment I recognised my non-negotiables – only working school hours and never working on the weekend – and then sharing this with my clients, family and friends, it was really easy to enforce and stick to my boundaries.

Sure there’s the odd occasion I need to work at night or on a weekend but trust me these are the exception to the rule rather than the norm.

What are your non-negotiables and boundaries?

4. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right

There will be times in your business life when someone says ‘You HAVE to do this’ or ‘Don’t do that’.

They seem to have a compelling case and are adamant in their belief.

Then if you hear the same thing from a number of people, you start thinking they may have a point.

But what if what they’re saying is at odds with what you think and believe? What if your doubting yourself and what they’re saying just doesn’t feel right?

When I told people including marketing colleagues about my plan to giveaway loads of FREE high quality content without even asking for an email address, I knew I was breaking every marketing rule in the book and many were skeptical to say the least.

For me though, the common marketing practice of getting someone’s email address at all costs and using annoying website pop-ups didn’t feel right.

My advice is that when it doesn’t feel right, more times than not, it probably isn’t right…or more accurately not right for you.

You have to do what you believe in and feels right.

5. You’re not alone

Even if your’e a solo entrepreneur, sole trader or work from home, you don’t have to bumble along by yourself. You should create or find a network of likeminded individuals that you can call on or connect with on a regular basis so you can stay connected to your stakeholders, industry and sanity. You may like to join a networking group, meet up for coffees or even have a friend or mentor who you can call when needed. You can also try social media groups and pages such as In Just 5.

So what business lessons have your learnt? Tell us in comments below.

You may also be interested in our article on: Is it a Hobby or a Business?, Must Knows for Working from Home, 5 Tips for Juggling Motherhood and Business and our 5 Steps to Starting a Business.

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Kylie Fennell

I love creating and curating content, strategies and resources that will make your day. I’m a Writer, Marketer, Business Advisor and Trainer with 20 years of industry experience. I'm also a passionate home cook. By far though, my biggest role to date has been (and continues to be) Small Business Owner and Mother.