As I sit here at my desk writing out this blog post it is September 3rd, 2016 and that’s a special day for me. Why? No, not because it’s “International Bacon Day!” Although, I would forgive you for thinking that because bacon is the second best food in the world! (Donuts being the first best food in the world, obviously.)
No, it’s special to me because today is the 1-year anniversary of my company’s incorporation date!
This being a momentous day (to me at least) I thought that I would take some time to share the top three lessons that I’ve taken away from this past year in business. (Yes, there’s a lot more that I could write about in terms of lessons but I like brief blog posts and my attention span is limited so going past three would only offer marginal returns for you and me!)
LESSON 1: You’re going to have to do a LOT of $#it that you don’t like to do!
Even if you’re fortunate enough to have one or two great people to partner with in starting your business, you’re still going to have to do a TON of crap that you do NOT want to be doing! In the case of having partners, though, you may just have the flexibility of handing the crap that you REALLY hate off to one of your partners who doesn’t hate that thing as much as you do. For example, you hate doing to books and invoicing but your partner doesn’t mind it so much and since she hates sales (networking, marketing, etc.) and you’re pretty okay it, then you take on sales, etc.
All that said, if you’re starting out on your own, then just know that you will either be doing everything or managing everything…especially for those tasks that you simply cannot do, e.g., taxes, handling legal filings, etc.
LESSON 2: Spend money for value NOT because you can!
As a brand new entrepreneur (you’re a “shot caller” if not quite a “big baller” now, after all) you have the opportunity to blow money on a lot of things that you think you need but you really don’t. How do you know if you really “need” something or not for your business? Well, this really is a question that only you can answer and that answer is going to change over time as your business expands, contracts, etc., but as a general rule you should simply ask yourself before a purchase: “Is this purchase going to bring value to the company?”
If the answer to this question is an honest, “yes”, then at least you’ve done the “gut check” that should allow you to be comfortable with moving ahead with just about any capital expenditure (CapEx).
Someday when you’re a HUGE corporation with hundreds/thousands of employees, you’ll have the luxury of doing extensive market research, return on investment (ROI) analysis, etc., but for now just ask yourself the “value question,” answer it and then move on!
LESSON 3: You WILL need a good attorney in your corner!
Whether you are actually being sued (or simply threatened with a law suit as I’ve already been in my first year of business) or need help drafting your company’s contracts (or deciphering the cryptic content of other people’s contracts), I can almost guarantee that you will need to consult an attorney at least once in your first year of business.
Now, you can either whine about the “litigious society” that we live in or rail against the mountain of regulations and/or taxes that small businesses are faced with but I’d prefer to just deal with the “legal landscape” as it is and get the help/advice of legal professionals who can help me make smart choices about things that I have neither the time nor the inclination to completely understand.
Bottom line: This first year has been a bit of a ride but one that I would not trade for anything because I have been fortunate enough to learn a TON! If you’re contemplating starting your own business, I would encourage you to go for it but just keep in mind the three lessons that I note above!