What I Wish I’d Known When I Started My First Business: A Message to My Younger Self

When I started my first business back in (gasp!) the early 90’s, I had no idea what I was doing.

I’d never taken a business course or read a single business book. I didn’t know anyone who ran a business other than an aunt who sold insurance.

There was no such thing as the internet, and the only coaches I knew were men with whistles yelling at the football team.

But that was a long time ago, and the world is a very different place today. When I think of all the mistakes I’ve made, and lessons I’ve learned, I wish I could talk to that young, clueless, but courageous, young woman I was back then.

If I could, this is what I would say to her.

1. You really can do this.

You think you don’t have what it takes. You think you need a friend or a partner to help you, because you don’t trust yourself to do it on your own.

And sure, you need support – but the truth is you can do this yourself. You can create, build, manage and grow a very successful business all on your own.

But you need to understand that because it’s your business, no one will ever care about it as much as you. The buck really does stop at your desk, so you may delegate, but never abdicate your responsibility.

And don’t expect family and friends to understand what you’re dealing with. Talk to other entrepreneurs – who get what a crazy life this is – and just love your family.

2. It’s okay to make money, even a lot of money.

You think that even talking about money will somehow tarnish your relationships with people. I get that. I know it feels icky – at first.

But that’s more about your mindset than anything else, because money is neither bad, nor good. It’s a simple exchange of energy.

And it matters, so you have to address it with your clients. In fact, money is a therapeutic issue in and of itself. So charging what you’re worth, and standing by your value, is ultimately serving your clients.

It means you are showing up for them in an authentic way. And, by doing so, you’re showing them how to do the same.

3. You need to know your numbers.

Oh my goodness, child, why do you resist this so much?

You’re losing thousands of dollars by not being on top of your accounts. And all those bookkeeping tools you keep trying aren’t working for you.

This just isn’t your genius work – so quit trying to do it yourself!

Get a bookkeeper to help you track business accounts, and a CPA to help with taxes. Make sure they both understand your business, and that they’ll talk to you without making you feel stupid.

Your purpose may be to help people, but your business’s purpose is to make money. Because if you don’t make money, you won’t last – and how will that help anyone?

Seriously, hire some help.

4. You’re never going to have it all figured out.

I know you feel foolish when you make mistakes – but the truth is, you’re always going to be making mistakes. That’s how you learn.

And besides, just because you’re good at what you do, doesn’t mean you know how to run a business. You’ll always need coaches, guides, mentors, accountability partners, and support.

So stop wasting energy beating up on yourself. Just celebrate the fact that you’re still in the game – and still growing.

5. Do this because you love it.

Don’t do something because it’s practical; because I know you – and that will only carry you so far.

Do it because you love it – period.

And when you’re not having fun any more, change things up somehow. Do what you need to do to make it fun again, so that your business feeds your soul, as well as your bank account.

And one more thing – don’t forget to celebrate victories along the way. You’ll have many, and they, too, are part of your becoming.

Now – go make some money. Make a difference.

And for pete’s sake – have some fun. :)


Photo Credit: Dell, Inc. on Flickr

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