In a recent conversation with other business owners, we started talking about things we had no clue about when we started our first businesses. It was a funny, entertaining, and comforting conversation. It was reassuring because sometimes we forget we aren’t the only ones learning new things on the job. (And in this case, “the job” is building and running the business.)
I decided to share some of the things I thought of while pondering this question. So here are some things I didn’t know when starting Focus Lab:
- How much I could learn from books on both broad and specific topics
- How much I couldn’t learn from books and just had to experience
- How affordable — and valuable — good legal counsel could be
- How affordable — and valuable — good tax and financial counsel could be
- The key differences between 1099 contractors and W‑2 employees
- How business taxes work (even at a high level)
- How to read a balance sheet
- How to read a P&L
- How easy it would be to hire an employee (For some reason I assumed it was a complicated process, but it isn’t.)
- How difficult it would be to fire someone
- How difficult it would be to hold someone accountable
- How much time I would need to spend learning to understand people better
- How quickly some friends and family would assume I’m raking in cash
- How valuable a coach would be
- That there would be so many other business owners willing to share their struggles and lessons learned
- That I would feel genuine enthusiasm seeing team members move on into the next phase of their career after Focus Lab (even if I was sad to see them go).
When I decided to share this post, I asked some other business owners on Twitter and Facebook the same question. So here are something things other business owners didn’t know when starting their first business:
- That when something bad happens, it’s not the end of the world, and something good always shows up.
- The rollercoaster effect.
- The types of real-life experiences I’d be able to directly or indirectly support team members through. (Marriage issues, deaths in the family, miscarriages, medical diagnoses, etc.)
- How much time I would spend reminding team members of things already discussed. (Not because they aren’t paying attention, but because humans naturally need to be reminded of things.)
- How expensive signage could be.
- How many types of insurances the business would end up with and how much the premiums could cost.
- Cash flow is the most important thing to learn in business — not profit.
- There’s no such thing as a “silent partner,” nor a “one-time investment.”
- Business development or lead generation
- I didn’t realize what a challenge it would be to build a good team. Employing people has been my biggest lesson so far.
- Management Skills
- Cash flow management
- How important relationship skills are! Listening (really listening) and talking/writing are fundamental to delivering value.
And my personal favorite:
Why share all of this?
Sometimes people want to start a business but feel like they don’t have enough answers yet. My hope here is to show that you can have many unknowns and still successfully begin something. You’ll learn along the way. Sometimes you just need to take that leap and get going.
Have a question you want to run by someone already riding that rollercoaster? Feel free to hit me up.