I call myself a seasoned businessman. I have built and lost one business, shook the dust off, have started and built another one and soon I will be launching my new venture. And I have big hopes for it, naturally. What I find easier this time is that I can see my experience working for me. I don’t make certain mistakes, some quite typical for startup businesses and I also know what to expect from a business.
It obviously wasn’t like that when I first started. There is quite a lot of things every fresh businessman expects when starting out, most are unimportant and won’t make a difference to his success however there are few things I wish I had known before I started a business:
- Things take longer than expected and you must be prepared for that. Everything that involves people, decisions and resources take longer than you think. Decisions are rarely made when they are supposed to, people often delay tasks if they are not directly important to them (and often things relating to you and your business won’t be) and resources you were counting on are delayed too. In order to stay sane you need to be realistic in planning and your expectations. Always assume that things will take time to develop and you should be fine.
- People will let you down. And this can happen in ways you can’t even imagine. From laziness to theft, you will experience it all. From sheer arrogance to pure malice you will see a lot of that too, unfortunately. One of the things I learnt very quickly in business is to trust no one. And as hard as it sounds your faith in people can be a dangerous thing. Love and reward your employees but don’t have too much confidence in them.
- Your luck will constantly change. This is just how things go, some of them work out fine, and others kick you in the butt. And then the ones you though were bad often turn out good at the end. You will have ups and downs and it is better to be prepared for them from the start. Otherwise you might end up constantly worrying about something that is absolutely normal in business, just like I did in the past.
- Cashflow is actually extremely important. That was one of my biggest mistakes early in business; I didn’t pay much attention to cashflow. I had the money on the account and I was happy with that. It never crossed my mind to predict how my finances will look like in one, three and six months. It never actually occurred to me that I might run into problems with my cashflow. Unfortunately one unpaid invoice can really mess things up for you and if you don’t keep a track of your cashflow, don’t know how much money you are being owed and when you are supposed to receive them, how much money you have to spend yourself and how much do you have now you might end up in big trouble.