Running a small business is no joke. It’s amazing how much work just being a small business owner can be; once you add even a single employee, running any company is a job in and of itself. Trying to get up to speed can be overwhelming. We strongly recommend hiring experts whenever you can as you get started, so that you can focus on getting the business off the ground instead of learning how to do your own payroll. (Speaking of that, we can’t recommend Justworks enough!)
This is where former employers and local business networks can really come in handy. Find a highly-recommended accountant, insurance agent, and attorney before you get started, and ask as many questions as you can. You’ll have a sense of the rhythm of taxes, payroll, and licensing before you know it.
Some clients will always ask us to work out of scope and/or constantly resist our advice.There’s that old joke about how lawyering would be a great profession if not for the clients, ha ha. Well, there’s an element of truth to that in any service-oriented profession. The truth is that sometimes a client and an agency just are not a good fit, for whatever reason. When that happens and it’s within your power, it’s better to terminate the relationship early and amicably, so that both you and the client can concentrate your resources on more beneficial relationships.
Not everything we try will work right off the bat, or as originally envisioned. Try as you might, one of your practice areas is just not where you want it to be. Before you jettison the work altogether, try to identify what the issue is. Is the service just not in demand in your market? Are you marketing to the wrong audience? Do you need more staff support or different tools to succeed in that area of business? Once you have these answers, you can decide whether you have the resources available to fix the problem, or if it’s better to cut your losses and walk away.
I’m paying the bills, but I have no idea if my business is succeeding. We found it challenging to set appropriate revenue and cost estimates in the first year, but it became infinitely easier in year two in part to a very detailed spreadsheet we built and populated quarterly. Taking the time to track our numbers at a granular level right from the start has paid off in spades, and we didn’t need anything other than Excel and a few hours of dedicated time to do it. A bonus? One of our major initiatives was born right from this part of the experience – more on that to come in 2019!
Business is profitable, but we are missing the mark on intangibles. In our experience, most small business owners don’t strike out on their own just for the money; there are many, many other reasons at play. It’s essential to take time to write down your goals and then to review them periodically so that you remember why you got into this business in the first place. Were you looking to create a more efficient process, make a better product, spend more time with your family, work with clients whose missions you believe in, or challenge yourself to build a highly-functioning team?
We note these kinds of goals in our performance document as well and reflect upon them quarterly. Achieving our personal goals is just as important as making our revenue targets and will make us happier in the long run too.
I’m working harder than ever. We haven’t exactly found an answer for this one yet! Small business owners are some of the hardest-working people we know – it is not for the faint of heart. It can be difficult to delegate, especially in the beginning, but it is crucial to learn how. Part of the joy of ownership should be that eventually you will be able to slough off the tasks that don’t interest you so that you can focus on your true business passions.
If you start by handing off small assignments, it will be easier to eventually shift more of your focus to the reason you started your business in the first place. And don’t forget to stoke those fires by indulging in pet projects, even if you don’t think you have the time. Our eBook is the direct result of many very early mornings for our CEO -- and totally worth those 4 AM wakeups.
After 30 months in business, we’ve learned a lot, but by no means are we experts. What would you add to our list? We’d love to start a conversation and learn even more.
Interested in how we have streamlined our business processes? Visit our website or send us an email.