I started my small business initially over Facebook mid November 2015. Late January 2016 was when I really started to have everything more established and had the opportunity to work out of Rejuvenate Wellness Centre.
I learnt a lot about myself in particular when I started the business. I always knew that I liked being in control and that I am well organised and efficient, however starting a business meant that my organisational skills though I thought were pretty good had room to improve. I am naturally a very positive and motivated person which was really put to the test this year, however I did notice that I am very capable and a lot stronger than I thought I was and have been able to keep myself in a good head space.
This is what I learnt!
- Ideas: Everyone likes to give you ideas or tell you what you should be doing to improve your business or build your business. At first I would feel a little overwhelmed as what if I wasn’t doing enough, however as time went on I realised that it’s ok not to follow every bit of advice you are given and that you need to carefully think about it before making any rash decisions. A lot of people that give you this advice don’t run a small business and work in very different industry to you. It is always great hearing new ideas and I gratefully appreciate anything that I receive now but ensure I think it through properly.
- Opportunities: There will always be different opportunities that come along, and at first I felt like I had to take each and every one which would often overwhelm me and make me lose focus on what I ultimately wanted to do with the business. I have since learnt that not every opportunity is as good as they are made out to be and that you really need to step back and way up what your ultimate goals are with your business and make a decision that will benefit your goals in the long term.
- Online Advertising: Online is everything and worth every cent you spend to create it initially! I wasn’t entirely sure about how I felt about such an online presence when I first started the business. Facebook and Instagram were initially my main focus points as we all know how well they do these days! I have learnt that having a well-designed website, and yes this is expensive, is money well worth investing. I started off with a basic website which was perfect for what I needed to start with just to have more of an online presence, however I didn’t factor in what my ultimate goals would be. Over the first year I really narrowed in on where I wanted the business to go and then decided to upgrade. I had a new website built that really draws in on and focuses on where I want my business to go long term. Yes this was quite costly, however I wouldn’t look back.
- Business Direction: At first I didn’t really understand the direction I was going to take, I had ideas and dreams of where I wanted to go, however goals did end up changing somewhat once I did sink my teeth into it. I think the biggest learning curve here was not setting myself lots of little goals to achieve as I was always focused more on the larger goals that I knew wouldn’t be able to be achieved straight away.
- Friends/Family/Partners: People who you feel should be there to support you don’t always follow through. A lot of your spare time does go to working on the business which can mean seeing them less frequently. Also I am a very positive, motivated and driven person and sometimes this can be difficult for people to see as they may not been feeling this way about what they do work wise. When you mention to someone that you have a small business it seems to be perceived sometimes that you are somewhat more successful or in a better position than most. This is NOT true! The first few years are often very tough and you do not see much profit at all for all the hours you are putting in. Money travels a lot faster out than in!!
- Switching off: Switching off is so much easier said than done. It is nice to think that when you come home from work (i.e. if you are based out of a different location) that you can switch off but this is not easy. I alternate between working from home and out of another business. When you’re the only one who can do your work there is often times where you are up late or up early to get things done as they just have to be done sometimes. I do often check emails right up until I go to sleep depending on what has been happening and first thing when I wake in the morning. I make sure I do not check them in the middle of the night! Weekends have finally become a bit easier to switch off to enjoy other activities but it is not uncommon for me to spend a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday (or both) working.
- Free Labour: Often when you’re starting out people will always offer to assist you with help, whether it be advertising ideas, creating plans, proofreading etc. In my experience I have always accepted this help as extra brains really are useful for picking ideas from, however you need to be careful that you offer the same help back to those that help you so you don’t create a friendship based on your work only. You also need to be careful what type of ‘working relationships’ you get into with people. If it’s a ‘you do something for me I do something for you’ then make sure that you follow through and stand your ground if it changes and ensure that it is actually benefiting you not slowing you down with your goals. Also be wary how much information about your business you shares with others.
These are some of the lessons that I have learnt since having a small business and I hope that my lessons learnt can help someone else when starting out 🙂