- Don’t quit your day job. Wait until you’ve built enough business to support you full time, with full pay. This can easily take up to a year. Most new business owners are overly optimistic about how quickly business will grow.
2. Start with your passion. That should far and away be your greatest motivation. If you’re getting into a line of work because of the tremendous opportunity (e.g. my buddy is making a killing at this), you’re doing it for the wrong reason.
3. Don’t take on debt, become self-supporting. This is quite debatable, but too often I see a mind-set that assumes or expects the new business will be financed on credit cards, perhaps because they read about a successful entrepreneur that built her business that way. This is playing with fire, so learn to live frugally.
4. Expect long hours and lots of hard work. You’ve heard this before, but let me give a few example of how this really manifests itself:
a. New to the marketplace, you will need spend 3-4 times more time getting a new customer than if you were established, simply because you have no reputation.
b. Because you have no reputation, everyone will be testing you. Vendors may not expect you to be demanding, customers may not believe you’re as skilled as you say you are. You will need to be extremely detailed about every bit of your work (return calls immediately, confirm appointments, etc).
c. If you own a retail store, you will need to be the cleaning lady since you probably can’t afford one – extra hours. If you own a professional business, you’re the one that needs to return calls over your lunch break since you can’t afford a secretary… get the idea?
5. Learn to live in the present. You’re going to make mistakes or miss opportunities; get over it and don’t dwell in the past. You also need to concentrate on what’s in front of you right now, rather than thinking about how you’re going to open new markets and hire new employees. Do what your need to do today, perfectly.
6. Pay yourself as soon as you get sales. Too many new business owners will only pull money from the business when the cash flow can support it. This is both admirable and misguided at the same time. You need to reward yourself through a steady paycheck for two basic reasons. First, the business operation needs to accommodate for your payroll. Pulling money infrequently will make it difficult to predict cash flow. Secondly, you will have a bad day sooner or later. When the chips are down, you can at least console yourself in the fact that you got a paycheck. This doesn’t have to be a huge or even modest salary, just make it consistent and affordable.