10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business

starting a business

I am often asked to speak to young entrepreneur groups and the number one question I get is what advice would I give to someone just starting out along the entrepreneurial path.

I do in fact have a top ten list. However, it is good for anyone thinking about starting their own business, not just the younger set.

Over the years, the list has changed slightly but really if I had known even half of what is on this list, I would have been better prepared.

Here’s my list…

  1. You have to be super passionate about your business to get you through the rough spots. It’s not just willpower, but true passion and enthusiasm that get you back on the horse when things don’t go according to plan. You need a big WHY. Why are you doing this in the first place?
  2. Have a vision and a plan and write it down—even a simple plan on one piece of paper but have a plan—dream big, but write it down. If you don’t have a direction, you’ll never get to your destination.
  3. Do your research—know who you are selling to down to what they like to eat for breakfast. Knowing your client is what sets the dabblers apart from the super successful.
  4. Get the boring stuff in order. This means a separate bank account, tax numbers, filing system for receipts, etc. I fully admit that I really suck at this. I’m much better at dreaming and creating but I sure wish I had known and done this in the beginning.
  5. No matter what business you are in, you are ultimately selling yourself—forming friendships and partnerships (in other words relationships) with other people is the key to your success. If you are not comfortable putting yourself out there, get used to it or don’t start a business.
  6. While working on any new product, service, or business only tell a few select people who are closest to you and who truly support you. Yes, unfortunately there are haters out there and if you spread your news too soon, their criticism could crush you if you let it. Keep your ideas to a small core group until you are ready to launch big. (BTW, I’ve learned this one the hard way over and over again).
  7. Don’t quit your day job unless you can afford to—if you need a regular paycheck to feel safe and secure don’t start a business. However, you can have a business on the side at first. When I started my business, I quit my job with zero cushion. I don’t recommend doing that.
  8. Be flexible. Failure is only another word for opportunity. You will fail at times; I guarantee it. But you will also learn and sometimes amazing opportunities come of it all.
  9. Find a mentor. It’s ok to ask for and get help. In fact, you need to if you want to grow. Having a mentor and coach made all the difference and helped me quickly move my business from surviving to thriving.
  10. If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me! YOU are 100% responsible for your success or failure—not the economy, your parents, teachers, mentors or clients. Make a decision and then go for it. Consistent action is key. No one is responsible for your success or failure but you.
  11. Bonus: Find your one thing and stay focused. Too many people spend too much time multitasking. Find the one thing you are awesome at and stay focused on it. Avoid the shiny object!

Do you have things you wished you knew before starting a business? Or are you thinking of starting a business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Heather WIlsonHeather E. Wilson is the founder and CEO of The Canadian Coach, a directory and membership platform designed to unite, support and promote Canadian coaches. She's a successful business coach, speaker, author (Your Life According to You!), warrior, change-maker, risk-taker, and adventurer all rolled into one dynamic package.