10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Launching My First Business
I didn’t always want to be an entrepreneur. In fact, all the way until my 18th birthday, I was really unsure of what career path was right for me. I started off wanting to be a NBA player, then moved to engineering, and finally ended up th
inking I wanted to be a lawyer.
Well, as it turns out, I was wrong with every single selection I made. The funny thing was, I created my first business at the age of 17. However, I never looked at it as my career path, but rather a cash cow.
I didn’t want to leave my house, I wanted to make some money, and that’s exactly what my first business enabled me to do. It was only on my 18th birthday that I realized entrepreneurship was really my thing.
As a business owner not knowing that I was an entrepreneur, I made a lot of mistakes. If I had gone through a crash course on entrepreneurship before starting, I would have probably been a lot more successful.
Even though I cannot change my past, I can help others on a similar journey avoid some of the mistakes I made as a new entrepreneur. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before launching my first business:
1. Grow A Pair
You seriously cannot create a successful business unless you take some chances. As a new entrepreneur, I was only 17 years old. I was scared shitless of what people would say and how they would perceive me because of my young age.
I did everything possible to avoid human contact and attempted to lure customers in (without meeting them) by offering them dirt-cheap prices. I could have made 2 to 3 times as much as I did on each client, but I was scared of what others would think. As an entrepreneur, you have to put yourself out there and take some risks.
2. Simplicity Sells
I’ve always been one to complicate things. It isn’t because I like to work more, but instead I felt like I wasn’t offering enough. When I was creating products/websites, I tried to fill the box up to the top hoping to please customers.
It took me 3 startups before I realized that simplicity really sells. Not only that, but it’s so much easier to explain to people what exactly I am trying to achieve. As entrepreneurs, we want to put everything together at once, but that’s a HUGE mistake. Stay simple and try to solve one problem to the best of your abilities.
3. Making A Million Dollars Is A Lot Harder Than It Seems
Before starting my first company, I disrespected every single business owner out there by thinking how easy running a business was. This was simply because I was arrogant, clueless, and really thought I could make a million dollars from my first business in no time.
Instead of understanding how much hard work and struggle goes into a business, I felt like any business owner could make a million almost overnight. Boy was I wrong! Forget making a million, try making a dollar. While it’s great to aim high, you must know how much hard work and determination it takes to create a successful business.
4. Sell Or Die
This literally means exactly what it says. If you don’t sell, you die. When I first started my business, I was scared to sell. A magical genie is not going to drop off clients at your doorstep. You have to spend every free minute you have selling your product, services, or ideas!
You have to constantly sell at every opportunity available. If you’re scared to sell, you will not have a successful business. If I had spent more of my time selling, I would have definitely been far more successful than I was.
5. Do What You Love
Money is great, but it isn’t always enough to keep you happy. I was making good money every month from my first business, but it wasn’t my passion. Even though I have no regrets, I could have enjoyed my life a lot more had I run a business built around my passions.
All entrepreneurs should work in a field or industry that they love. If you look at your business as ‘work’, you’re not doing what you love. Find a niche that truly excites you and you will have no problem working late nights.
6. You Should Never Be Satisfied
With my first company, I was satisfied with the income I was making every month. I didn’t care if I made more money each month and was happy with where my business was. If you do something, do it to be the best, not mediocre.
I was happy with the type of customers I was acquiring and the amount of money I was making.That’s crazy! I should have been swinging for the fences and aiming to be the best in my industry.
7. Brand Yourself
People buy into you, not the company. As a new entrepreneur, I was all about branding my business. While that’s great, I never understood the fact that people were really trusting me with their business.
Focus on branding yourself and your business will instantly reap the benefits. Your customers develop a positive relationship with you before putting their needs in your hands. Your personal brand stays with you for your whole life, whereas your businesses brand leaves when the business does.
8. Help Others For Free
When I started as an entrepreneur, I really didn’t care about others. If someone even asked me a simple question, I tried to find a way to put a price tag on it. Why? Well, someone had convinced me that I should be charging everyone for everything.
That was horrible advice. Help others and they will help you. I no longer care about receiving X amount of dollars for offering my insight or help to someone. I do it because I genuinely care about others and want to help them. Whether or not they use me for my services in the future or not really does NOT concern me.
9. Stick With What Works
As a business owner, I was itching to offer more services. Instead of trying to capture a larger market share in one specific aspect of the business, I wanted to do a little bit of everything. I was making a killing selling websites, but I wanted to offer mobile applications, graphic design, and video production.
That was a horrible idea. I was venturing into something completely new without very much experience in those fields. My website services started faltering while I landed very few clients for my newer services. It’s crucial to stay focused on what’s working. Grow as much as you can in one area before venturing on to newer things.
10. Customer Development
Before implementing an idea, pricing a product, or even changing the design of your website, ask your customers what they think. At the end of the day, your customers are the lifeline of your business.
There is nothing more valuable then the feedback others can give you. Keep track of the challenges, comments, and questions others show about your survey. This will save you tons of time in the future and your product will be far more solid.
As an entrepreneur, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. I was no exception to that rule. I screwed up a lot and learned a lot, but I was always quick to correct problem areas. This was just 10 things I wish I had known before launching my first business.