Over the last six-and-a-half years of being in business I have learned a lot of hard lessons. Some of them were costly, some of them were poor judgment, but all of them were learning opportunities and I try my best not to let history repeat itself. Onward and upward is a common theme to my business day.
- April’s top 5 lessons of business hard knocks:
- 1. Your business plan truly IS a valuable tool.
You agonized, you struggled, you wondered what you needed to do this silly exercise for. You pushed it aside, had a cup of tea, came back, and stared blankly at the projections, cash flows and wondered if it was a consipiracy with those ‘trains heading in opposite directions’ math problems from high school. Yes, me too. Except I really enjoy those math problems.It took me a REALLY long time to learn this, but is important to plan out your business future, even if it is a very rough road map. On the anniversary of your completing the business plan have a look at your projections to see if you have surpassed, met or need to adjust your marketing, budgeting and other success strategies.
- 2. Remember when you planned your budget and cash flow? Double it. At least.
I have consistently found that running a business requires about twice as much cash as I originally thought. Think your customers are going to pay you in 30 days? Think again. After purchasing supplies, making your product, making the sale and waiting to be paid your cash flow will often need to stretch FAR beyond 30 days. Sad, but true.
- 3. The adrenaline rush and emotional roller coaster of business will either propel you forward or be your demise.
I never thought of myself as a high-stakes gambler, but it turns out I may just be. Entrepreneurs live a roller coaster life of highs and lows – financial success and drought. Customer satisfaction and tear-inducing complaint letter. This emotional roller coaster doesn’t work for everyone and it will either become a way of life or a constant source of stress. I am completely addicted to the gamble of business decisions.
- 4. Come out of your shell.
Business alliances are important and regardless of where you live, who you are and who you know can be important. Get yourself out there networking, join a local service group, find out where entrepreneurs in your neighbourhood are (in person is more important than online here) and go meet them. Have your elevator speech ready.
- 5. Find someone in your field to act as a mentor or sounding board.
In some industries knowledge is protected and competition is fierce. While you’re networking, see if you can find someone in your field to talk to about all the ins and outs of your industry. Every industry has a culture and possibly also regulatory requirements and without someone to talk to, you will end up feeling like you’re the only one with X problem or Y difficulty. It makes all the difference.
What hard lessons have you learned along your business journey? Please share in the comments!