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4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Business
I’ll never forget the day I finally decided to ditch my 15-year corporate career to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I mean, I was walking away from a high-paying position at the height of my career.
Something I worked extremely hard to achieve–including pursuing a master’s degree while working full-time to help me advance my career.
I gave up my retirement pension, health benefits, sick days (something I rarely used), and paid vacation. Most people I knew questioned me by asking, “Are you sure you want to do this?” or “Have you thought this out fully?”
At the time, I was determined to do it. And I appreciated the amazing people in my life that act as sounding boards and guidance.
I believed when I decided to ditch my career that I had thought about everything. But in hindsight, looking back, I had missed some pretty important things that I wish I’d considered.
Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
Well, I know these things would have saved me a lot of heartaches and frustration. That is why I want to share the four keys things I wish I knew before I started my small business.
And they aren’t what you think!
Let’s dive in. Are you ready?
There are endless opportunities or ideas, especially if you consider yourself an entrepreneur, creative, or both. But it doesn’t mean we should pursue them all. I believe we should get picky with what’s a yes. If you’re like me, saying yes is a lot easier than saying no. You love to please people, help, and you take great pride in being able to do that.
That’s precisely what I did when I agreed to ditch my corporate career to open my brick-and-mortar wine-making business. When the opportunity was presented to me, I decided to ‘help’ get the wine shop up and running–knowing full well that I had other interests and priorities I wanted to pursue. But before you know it, I was knee-deep in the day-to-day operations leaving me very little time for other things.
I quickly realized that the over-giver in me led me to agree to something that I wasn’t fully vested in as I had other things I wanted to do, like start a family. So, after four hard years of running that business, I learned what a ‘heck yes’ feels like, but more importantly, what a meh or no feels like for me. And to only agree to the heck yeses.
I remember being so excited to open my brick-and-mortar wine-making business. I love wine, so I thought owning a wine business would be fun. Boy, was that an oversight. Don’t get me wrong; there were parts of the business that I enjoyed—connecting with customers, brainstorming creative ways to grow the business, and coming up with new wine blends.
The day-to-day operations were challenging work—the overhead, such as the crazy expensive rent, restrictive retail hours, hard labor to make the wine, and never-ending cleaning and sanitization, to give you a few examples.
I wish we would have considered all things before opening the business, but the excitement of something new overshadowed the day-to-day reality. I wish I went to work in a store like this before agreeing to open one. The good old ‘job shadowing’ to make sure you get a clear understanding of how things will be and if you’ll enjoy it.
For as long as I remember, I wanted to own my own business. I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs–my grandfather, uncles, and father. So, I knew I wanted to start my own business. After graduating with my bachelor’s in marketing, I started working in corporate. The pay and benefits were good, so it made it difficult to give that up.
After 15 years of not living out my dream of owning my own business, I was desperate to make a change. Looking back now, I realize that desperation led me to make a quick decision versus a well-thought-out decision. I wasn’t living in alignment with my gifts, so when the opportunity to open the wine business was presented to me, I figured it would solve everything. Fix my unhappiness with corporate and fulfill my desire to own my own business.
Unfortunately, things don’t work out that way. If you’re seeking happiness or fulfillment from something else–an experience, items, or people–you’ll wind up disappointed. Alignment comes from inner happiness, so before making any big decisions in my life or business, I make sure it’s coming from a place of internal alignment versus desperation to fix my current circumstances.
This is a big one for me. Before owning my business, I was terrible at setting clear expectations and boundaries. It goes back to my people-pleaser nature and attaching my worth to external validation. So, I often found myself giving as a way to help but also demonstrate my worth.
It was apparent in my partnerships and with customers. I bent myself in every direction to accommodate everyone else but myself. This led me to massive burnout, coupled with frustration, resentment, and anger. But I only had myself to blame. I didn’t set clear boundaries and expectations before opening the store, making it impossible to maintain them.
So, my recommendation is to set expectations upfront and allow people to reevaluate if they still work. As we grow, change, and evolve, so too will our expectations and boundaries, so it’s always essential to create the space for this to happen.
Well, I hope I’ve given you some things to consider if you’re looking to pursue a new business venture or finally make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship. This article isn’t designed to intimidate you or scare you away from being a fearless creator. It’s written to share my lived experience and the lessons I learned thus far so that you can avoid making some of the same mistakes I’ve made along my journey.
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