6 Thoughts on Opening Your First Business

I am a serial entrepreneur, having started more businesses than most. It helps that I am a serious workaholic, arising as early as 4:30 a.m. and often working until 1:00 a.m. the following morning. At present, I own and operate ten businesses and all are profitable solo ventures. As I drink a tremendous amount of coffee during the day to maintain my focus. One of my businesses is a coffee shop, which is profitable on its own, but also allows me to purchase coffee in large amounts at wholesale for my own use.

There is one common thread among all ten businesses and that is they all support my passion for creativity, which relates to the first item on my list.

I have another passion for helping others solve their problems. As a consultant in the screenprinting technologies, I work with business owners, who are for the most part creative but are not always the best at successfully running a business. I am constantly reminded of the things they should have known before getting into the business. Owning a small business is a challenge for those who are more creative and think with the right side of their brain, that controls tasks that have to do with creativity and the arts, rather than the more logical left side.

No matter which side of your brain you are using, if you are thinking of starting a business for the first time, here are six tips that will make the journey to success easier.

1. Follow Your Passion

Your business probably stems from something you’re passionate about, but over time, the day-to-day running of the business makes it hard to keep that passion alive.

Fuel it daily by reminding yourself why you started your business. Make sure that you fall in love with a problem, not a solution. If your first solution doesn’t work, fall back on your passion for solving that problem to find another answer for your customer. And, most of all maintain that passion constantly to keep it alive in you.

2. Cashflow is King

Running a business is both an art and a science. The art is your passion. The science is your business model. Make sure you understand your own business model. It’s not something to abdicate to someone else. Understanding money-in, money-out, is critical to business success. Ignorance is not bliss. If you know how your business is doing at every moment, you can celebrate your success or plan for how to get more cash.

3. Hire Smart

Hiring a team is thrilling but also scary. Take time to hire the right people for the right job. Fire them quickly if it doesn’t go well. As a small business owner, you can do anything but you can’t do everything! Hire people who love to do what you hate to do so you can focus on your dream and evangelize your passion.

4. Communicate

Shareholders in your business are a necessity. They include your customers and clients, your staff members, your vendors and sometimes business partners. They can be a great way to bring complementary talent to grow your business but, just like a marriage, it’s critical to communicate values and expectations. Create a business “prenup” to set expectations for the shareholders.

Like every good marriage, set time aside to have discussions with your shareholders and use the time spent to consider why you went into business with each of them in the first place. You can also use the time as an opportunity to brainstorm new ideas or talk through problems in a less stressful space.

5. Protect yourself from the unexpected

Think about roadblocks you might hit along the way. Expect the best but prepare for those unexpected hiccups.

Things will happen that you can’t control. Do what you can to protect yourself. Set up systems and processes in your business so that you can take a vacation or care for a sick child. Make sure that things won’t fall apart if you step away for a moment. Respect yourself enough to ensure that you can take care of yourself outside your business.

6. The buck stops with you

But, remember that you don’t have to be alone! As a small business owner, it can be lonely making all the decisions. Ask for help. Not everyone has the courage to start a business but most people want to help and support you.

Find other entrepreneurs to learn from. Someone a few years ahead of you can provide invaluable advice. Someone just starting can bring energy and creative ideas. The best advice I ever received came from other entrepreneurs. It takes a village.

Running your own business is one of the most exciting, and challenging, adventures you will embark upon. Take care of yourself as you set the tone and culture of your growing business. Protect yourself to ensure the business will survive the ups and downs. Running your business can be fun with a little planning and with processes to make things run smoothly. Take time to set it up correctly so you can get back to doing what you love.

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