Recently I have been taking stock of my business and identified a few things I should have done before I purchased my license and other legal paperwork. I'm in the thick of it now, but I know if I had done these 5 things, my journey would have been a bit easier.
Be Clear About What I Wanted My Life To Be.
The reason this step is so much more important than everything else, is because your business will be shaped and developed to fit your new life model. Everything you do in business will need to be designed to help make you vision a reality. I wasn't clear with myself until 6 months in. I'll admit it was fear and shame. The gut urged to repel away my life's vision got me most of the time. The voices of those who loved me, and those who could care less played time and time again in my head.
For instance, I want to make $1M a year in income. It was hard for me to truly accept this because the skeptical voices of those I cared about continued to pledge me. One day I decided to cast those thoughts aside and plant deep roots into my vision. Now don't get me wrong, the effect of their "encouragement" and "realism" was not their fault. They were only trying to help me in the best way they knew how. It was my responsibility to accept or discard it. Once I choose to accept my vision, it was easier for me to say "no" to certain projects and "yes" to certain risks.
Have An Open and Clear Conversation With My Husband
I won't lie. I'm used to getting my way. I normally don't ask for much, but when I want something I'll eventually get it. I'm pretty determined and headstrong. Well, the business was no different. I mentioned it to my husband other some years, but because I didn't make any real action it seemed like a pipe dream to him. To add to the tension, he doesn't have the entrepreneurial spirit like I do. There's nothing wrong with that at all. The problem is that I assumed he would just fall in line with the idea. So when I made it official, I kind of just dumped it in his lap without asking him what his take on it was.
This, my beautiful queens, is not how I should have handled it. Instead, I should have listened to his concerns and work on ways to address his fears and accomplish my goals. I knew he wasn't an entrepreneur, so forcing my life changing decision on him was a bad move. Naturally he was not a fan. He would try to see it my way, but then would backslide on the support. When we finally had a down to earth open and honest conversation, and only after I sincerely apologized, I was then able to get his support, with conditions.
Research, Research, Research.
I did not do enough research before I started. I just started. Big mistake. As veterans we have so many resources out there. We just need to find them, apply and follow instructions. For some reason I thought I looked enough and would just have to do it alone. Nope! As a result I used my own money with a crappy business plan.
I had no idea running a small business was no small feet. I foolishly thought I would start and fund it as I went.
Save Money Specifically.
No matter how much money you save you need to save more. The savings needs to be specific to your business. I didn't do this at all. We had a little savings, but not enough. It wasn't separated either. In the beginning, the small things like the business license and the wholesale application was not a big deal. But when it came to inventory, business group membership, insurance, and website, well, it got expensive quickly. I took out a $2K loan thinking that would cover it. I foolishly thought I would sell enough quickly to repay the loan and make more, but I was wrong.
To add dry tender to the fire, I wasn't working. So my husband was holding down the household expenses with the help of my VA benefit. Needless to say, things got tight. What was supposed to be extra money ended up going to the business. Within 8 months I was back in the workplace with many lessons learned.
Complete My Business Plan.
Your business plan is your roadmap of what to do and expect out of your business. A complete business plan can keep you on track. Without one you are more or less going blind. Yes, your business plan is a living breathing thing, which constantly changes. But, you still need one to keep you on track.
I now realize that I need a good business plan if I want investment, loans, grants or any other business financial assistance.
My business is still thriving. I've found ways to address my obstacles. I'm working on many of my missed steps as we speak. But if I could turn back the clock, these 5 areas are definately on the top of the list of things I needs to get done first.