I celebrated my first year business anniversary in January. Running an event company as well as a freelance writing business means I juggle a lot of responsibilities, and my first year was a 12-month-long learning experience. There was a lot of stress, a lot of tears, and the most money I’ve ever made in my life.
I’m glad that I started Bravely, but there’s no denying that running a business is an adventure. There are ups and downs each week. But you don’t have to learn each of these lessons the hard way. Watch and listen to what other people who have or are running their own business do, and learn from them. Now that I’ve got a full year under my belt, I have a few lessons to share.
The number one question I get from people who are interested in starting their own business is ‘how do I get started?’ People want someone to lay out the path in front of them. For most of our lives, there’s a path: go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a job, buy a house.
Running a business is not like that. There are very few blueprints. But you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start. If you want to open a jewelry store one day, start making jewelry today. Build up a supply, and then try to sell it at local markets.
People think that if they can’t be the best right away, they should wait until they can be. That’s the wrong attitude for a business. You need to get started. You’ll make mistakes along the way, but you just keep moving forward. That’s what running a business is.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
Forming a business is a legal and financial contract. It’s not a place to cut corners, even if it costs money up front.
If you’re forming an LLC or an S-Corp, you need to talk to a lawyer to make sure you file the paperwork correctly. If you’re applying for a business loan, you’ll need to have a business plan, proof of cash flow, collateral, and possibly other things.
Having your paperwork in order will make all these things easier. It’s very important to have written records for tax, legal and financial purposes. I keep a digital and hard copy of all my documents, as well as receipts.
Ask For Feedback on Everything
Feedback is fuel. If you host an event, ask for feedback. If you sell a piece of jewelry, ask for feedback. Hearing from your customers and clients is invaluable. People want to tell you their opinions, and you can use their opinions to create your next piece of work.
When I hosted my first event, I didn’t ask for feedback. That was a mistake. I passed up a chance to learn what my audience liked about the event, what they wanted to hear more of from my panelists, and what they disliked about the structure of the event. I could have used that information to craft my next event. Instead, I was flying just as blind at my second event as I was at my first.
Learn what your clientele is looking for by asking them what they’re looking for. It makes your job easier.
Being in business is wonderful and terrifying. But you can learn from people who have walked down this road before to make your journey a little easier.