9 Things I Learned the Hard Way Not to do in BusinessJul 14, 2022
These are hard for me to admit but after 10 plus years of entrepreneurship and multiples businesses I’ve made enough mistakes for the both of us. Better I share them with you so you can save yourself!
Don’t take high interest loans even if you’re desperate - Maybe you think this is obvious, and it very well might be but when I opened my bar/restaurant, it was very difficult to find funding for restaurants, especially because there was so history of sales. The only loans offered to me were very high interest. I also underestimated the costs of running the operation. So…I took some high interest loans. Then Covid happened. Let’s just say…it wasn’t fun. #findanotherway
Do not go into a business without at least 6 months + cash on hand for operating expenses - Don’t assume the sales will cover the costs. You will get a very unpleasant slap in the face, that I can promise. Launching a new business we tend to wear rose-colored glasses. We expect that everyone else will be as excited about our product or service as we are. We could be right about that but, what we underestimate is getting in front of all of those people so they CAN get excited. Exposure can take time, momentum can take time, and creating relationships with customers can take time. Prepare yourself by having that nest egg so you don’t have to panic if things take a little longer to ramp up than you expected.
Additionally, having that money set aside allows you to continue to invest in your business in inevitable ways you’ll only discover by actually beginning to operate. Now, you can put your best foot forward to create as much momentum as possible.
Don’t spread yourself too thin - For 10 years I opened 1 business every year just about. I thought I was building my empire. And maybe I was. But…Don’t do this. LOL I was a single mom running all over Brooklyn and Queens every day to manage multiple businesses, deal with employees not showing up, do the finances, argue with partners and venders and try to take care of myself and my daughter. It was too much. I burned out. Don’t start your next venture until your first one is chugging along with barely a need for your input. Both you and your businesses will be better for it.
I used to get mad at people when they would tell me I couldn’t create every thing I wanted. Now I realize they were mostly right. We can create every thing we want BUT not all at the same time. Learned that lesson the stressed-out and malnourished way.
DO have a Coach/mentor/advisor - this is one of the reasons I began coaching. Having a coach could have changed my life. I had to learn every thing myself as opposed to benefiting from the mistakes of others. Yes, I read books, but they didn’t tell me the millions of nuanced things that you only learn from doing. Many of the mistakes I made probably could have been avoided if I had had someone to discuss things with. When you’re on your own, you’ve got only one perspective to look at. If you’re not looking at the bigger picture or are ignorant of possible consequences…welp…let’s just say you might leave a lot more wreckage in your wake than if you’d had that other perspective/that space to discuss all possible outcomes. Check out AF Business Coaching and get a Free Consultation.
DO plan your exit strategies - I never planned ‘em because I didn’t expect to exit these businesses until I was old and grey. I also didn’t think my businesses were big enough to warrant them. Then Covid happened and I was like “oh, how about now then?” Problem was I didn’t have a plan of how that was supposed to happen. What followed was a lot of heartbreak, trauma, and feelings of betrayal. Again, I recommend you avoid this by creating detailed plans of how you will leave each business if and whenever the time comes.
Don’t get a partner with the same strengths and weaknesses as you - This is like a 2 legged table except one of the legs is missing. When it comes to finding a partner you need to find someone whose strengths and weaknesses are the opposite of yours. If you are the energetic, salesy, bubbly person with the vision who people easily follow but you’re not great with numbers, budgeting, staying organized, etc…well, obviously you need someone who is great at those things so the table, or in this case - the business, can be balanced. This is a great moment to have you and your potential partner take some of those personality quizzes that determine A. your personality type and B. your strengths and weaknesses.
DO create contracts - Every time I’ve not signed a contract with someone, there’s been disagreements that inevitably ended up in the collapse of that relationship. Even if it’s your husband or mother, better to at least have everything written down and agreed upon and the acknowledgment of both (or all) parties, so that in the future, there is something to refer back to. This can help to diffuse future disagreements when there finally is money involved. When there’s no money involved, sure, everything’s easy.
DO take breaks - Your business can only ever be as good as you are. If you are burned out, running on fumes, anxious and exhausted, that’s exactly what is being translated into your business. If you are taken care of, healthy, relaxed, and constantly investing in yourself, you are pouring from a much fuller pitcher into your business, your employees, your family, your friends and so on. I made the ghastly mistake of thinking the more I sacrificed myself, the more respect I would earn. HA what a crock of shit that was. It did the complete opposite. Running yourself into the ground does not make other people respect you, admire you, or think you’re doing a good job. It just makes them stressed out, feel vulnerable, and dislike you. TAKE CARE OF YOU!
Additionally, taking breaks/taking space away from the business allows you to get reacquainted with the bigger vision or the macro view of the what/how/why of where you’re headed. I got so bogged down in the minutia of running so many businesses that I rarely had a chance to sit down and focus on A. the progress that was made and B. where we were going. This would have reduced some stress because I would have been able to acknowledge the progress, put less important issues into perspective, come up with solutions, and allow for a boost of confidence seeing that somethings I was doing was working. Without these breaks, it’s quite difficult to do this.
DO always have a back up plan - I mentioned rose-colored glasses up there and the words “assume” and “expect” a couple times in this post. Those words can be the downfall of your business. If anything, we must assume we DON’T KNOW! It is possible to believe in our vision exponentially while also leaving room for the unknown. There are so many things we can predict or estimate but at the end of the day, there’s no way we can know for sure. And banking on outcomes that are affected by factors outside of our control without having contingencies or back up plans, is just masochism. So, don’t do it. Don’t assume anything is certain or guaranteed and always have a back up plan.
I hope these mistakes and do’s and don’ts provided some insight for you! If you have a story regarding any of them, I’d love to read it! Please leave it in the comments below!
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