Nobody knows everything when they start their first business. Even if you take the time to educate yourself on potential challenges and seek mentorship from more experienced entrepreneurs, there are still some lessons you’ll only learn in hindsight.
The members of Young Entrepreneur Council know well the challenges that new founders face when they’re first starting out. We asked eight of them to share the one thing they wish they’d done before they launched their company. Below, they reflect on their entrepreneurial journey and share their wisdom with fellow aspiring business owners.
1. Hired A Lawyer And Financial Advisor
If I could go back in time, I would have hired a personal lawyer and financial advisor prior to starting my business. It seems like such a big expense upfront, but ends up costing so much more than that later on if it’s not considered. Get your paperwork in place, have the protocol written for what happens when one of your equity partners spontaneously passes or what happens if someone steals money from the company—dig through the dirt first. You want to know how you are going to handle the chaos before you are in the chaos and trying to run your business. Do the same for finances. Know how you need to file and set up your corporation to best prepare you for future growth. Changing company or accounting structure gets expensive. Think about it from day one. – Darby Cox, Smoke Cartel Inc
2. Gotten More Corporate Experience
I wish I had spent a little more time in the corporate world learning how the business world works. I only worked in the corporate sector for four years after college before starting my full-time business. I think I would have learned a lot more about client relations, employee management, hiring and business development. Instead, I jumped right into entrepreneurship during the financial crisis and learned most of the aspects of running a small business within a year. It was overwhelming with a steep learning curve. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
3. Sought Out A Mentor In The Field
When you have multiple businesses, it can be tricky understanding how to manage and systematize certain aspects of business without already having the experience to do so. However, when you work with a mentor who knows the ropes and has done it for a while, you can leverage their experience. This would have helped in the first businesses I built as I would have been able to fast-track some of the hurdles. – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
4. Stopped Overthinking
My natural state of being is to want everything to be perfect before taking the first step. Looking back, I actually don’t wish I did something in particular; I wish I did less. While I do think that preparation is essential, I also think that at some point you can overdo it. It’s so easy to overthink and let decision paralysis take hold. If you are a person who doesn’t embrace perfection and can dive right in without having everything figured out (lucky you), then networking and finding a mentor would be a fabulous and productive use of your time. In fact, I think the best thing that came from my education is my built-in network. You start to realize that it’s not the old establishment who is going to be presenting you with exciting opportunities, but rather your peers. – Chelsea Rivera, Honest Paws
5. Networked More
I wish I had taken more time to build connections and network with other professionals before fully diving into starting a business. I think I could’ve learned more before I decided to take the plunge and go forward because there are always people to learn and grow from. If I had taken more time to speak to more entrepreneurs and business owners about their processes, failures, achievements and tips, I could have taken those into account. A lot of people’s success comes not from experience, but from who they know. I think the start of my entrepreneurship would’ve been smoother if I had had more of those connections. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Asked Myself About Long-Term Goals
I was excited to start my business right out of college, and I jumped on the first idea that came to me without really thinking about my long-term goals. I ended up spending a few years building a business that wasn’t aligned with where I could see myself in the next decade. This was mostly because the focus of my business was trendy and my passion for the topic eventually waned. Can you see yourself doing this as your life’s work for decades to come? If I had asked myself that question, I might have been able to avoid building something that I’d need to pivot from and almost having to start from scratch again later. – Nathalie Lussier, AccessAlly
7. Focused On The Three Pillars
8. Discovered My True Values
Entrepreneurship has a way of testing even the strongest women I know. I’ve found the best way to help with indecision and getting unstuck is to refer back to my values, using a process rooted in neuroscience. When you discover the deepest level of your why and how your brain categorizes and prioritizes information, you will have more confidence and a more proactive disposition. – Klyn Elsbury, MK Foundation