If you could go back in time and tell yourself anything, what would it be? We asked thirteen business owners what they thought their past selves would need to hear before starting a small business!
“Surround yourself with a network of other small business owners: This community for me is now essential and I wish I would have understood the importance of it when I was younger. This network of people can offer advice, share triumphs and struggles, and serve as inspiration for what is possible.”
-- Kate Flynn, CEO and Co-Founder at Sun & Swell Foods
“It takes soft skills like listening, empathy, and learning to engage with people with diverse values and cultures.”
-- Alix Greenberg, Founder at ArtSugar
“It's very tempting as a new small business owner to think that you can perform some employee duties to save on wages. For example, my wife and I thought it would be fine for her to teach many of the classes. The trouble is that you can't work on the business if you're working in the business.”
-- Emily Stork, Co-Founder at Worth The Fight Boxing and Studio
"I would tell my younger self to refrain from asking every single person for advice when launching a business. Everyone is different, and asking many people for advice will only delay your initiative. Select a few people whose businesses you admire and wish to emulate. Quantity is better than quality when it comes to choosing mentors or advisers because you don't want to lose the essence of your business by engaging too many of them."
-- David Adler, Founder & CEO at The Travel Secret
“I wish I'd focused on one way of marketing. So many people say to focus on one thing, which I did. I focused on being a VA and dropped my dreams of influencer and travel blogger to focus on it. But I tried marketing through Linkedin, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram while building a website.
If I restarted, I would focus solely on Instagram and maybe be active in Facebook groups. Trying to be present in so many places drained my energy and made when I did show up less effective.”
-- Felly Day, CEO at Felly Day VA, a Content Agency
"I wish I knew just how important goal setting and business coaching really are. I might have started growing 3 years earlier than I did with accountability from an outside source. Also, now that I work for myself and have started this business, I'm no longer employable. I could never go back to working for someone else, so I have to make this work!"
-- Jeni Bukolt, Founder and CEO at HAVEN Creative, LLC
“I wish I had known the importance of having an emergency fund. Money is stretched especially tight when anyone starts a business, so it is not uncommon for small businesses to neglect to create an emergency fund until they are up and running and bring in revenue. If you never face a crisis situation then you are off the hook, but that was not the case for my business.”
-- Andre Kazimierski, CEO at Improovy
“If there's something that I would tell my younger self, it would be to always prioritize your health above everything else. There is no need to be in a rush to grow, so don't be so hesitant to get that gym membership or afraid to take time off work and spend time with your friends. In fact, you'd be surprised to find that these activities will help to keep you refreshed, motivated, and eager to go back to work each day. Besides, without good health, your startup simply won't be sustainable anyways, so just be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey.”
-- Eden Cheng, Co-Founder at PeopleFinderFree
“If I could tell my younger self one piece of advice when starting a business, it would be to prioritize my mental health and work/life balance. Building a company from the ground up is extremely anxiety-producing and I definitely struggled to find time to step away from the business. Having experienced that, I would urge small business owners to dedicate 1-2 hours each day to unplug and do something non-work-related.”
-- Jonathan Ganther, Co-Founder and COO at Brakes To Go
“I wish I had known how difficult it would be to balance my business and my parenting responsibilities. I have always worked very demanding full-time jobs and found it was never as difficult to be a working parent as it is now that I own my own business. I certainly underestimated these challenges when I was starting out and have had to teach myself new habits and find new strategies to address these issues.”
-- Lindsey McPheeters, Co-Founder and Owner at Ivy.fm
“I would tell my younger self to not listen to the naysayers and that believing in yourself is crucial. I knew that I was a female founder going into an extremely male-dominated industry. Many of my previous colleagues laughed at the idea of me starting my own company. Some even said I didn’t belong in the industry. This led me to experience a lot of self-doubts. I’ve found that founders, particularly female founders, need to have thick skin. Remind yourself every day that you can succeed and you will.”
-- Lissele Pratt, Director and Co-Founder at Capitalixe
“Rely on your gut instincts and intuition. I had always been a numbers guy - relying on statistics and trends to make decisions when starting out my business. However, there are certain things that even numbers can't explain so, always go for your gut instincts - if you have a feeling that a certain decision is not right for the business, trust it!”
-- Aviad Faruzo, Founder at Faruzo
“Hire a bookkeeper sooner than later, please!”
-- Kate Bourque, Founder and Creative Lead at Kate Bourque