How to make it to your first birthday


Congratulations! You have decided to launch a small business. You have figured out what you are going to do and have started to tell people about it (hopefully). You jump out of bed every morning excitedly. You think about your business in your spare moments. It’s not a business, it’s an obsession!

Some days you are so brave that you could slay a dragon. Some days you are almost paralyzed and can barely get out of bed. (That task/meeting/phone call is not happening today.) This emotional rollercoaster is a normal part of being a small business owner.

As a new entrepreneur, you WILL make mistakes. Lots of them. If you have a problem with this, don’t start a business. If you need help recovering from a mistake, you can read this post on how to bounce back.

Three years into my business, and as someone who works with small business owners, here are some suggestions for how to survive the first year in business:

  • Know that you won’t know everything. Or maybe even a lot of things. Come to terms with the fact that there is just too much information available today and something has to fall off your plate. What do you really need to stay up to date on? Information that is directly relevant to growing your business and to serving your clients. Every other topic and shiny object is a nice-to-know, not a need-to-know item.
  • Remember that it takes a village. Even solo business owners shouldn’t go it alone. Collaborate and interact with other small business owners. Make it a point to check in regularly with other people who are building businesses. You will get support and maybe even some ideas for your business. I also highly recommend that you find real-life and virtual mentors.
  • Protect yourself from negativity. It will take every ounce of energy you have to keep yourself “up” and focused on the high-priority tasks you need to accomplish to move your business forward. You may have to distance yourself from some friends – and even some family members – who don’t support your dream.
  • Realize that there may never be enough time. Sometimes (maybe all the time) you will have competing priorities and it will seem like there is just not enough time. Concentrate on the high-value tasks and let everything else wait.
  • Embrace the concept of “good enough.” Do the best you can, but know that sometimes good enough will have to suffice. Perfectionists will chafe at this, but often it is better to get something out than to wait until everything is perfect. Consultants use the colorful expression “polishing the turd” when people are just nitpicking at small things instead of declaring something done for now.
  • Give yourself permission to fail. Some things will work out as planned, and some things definitely will not. Give yourself permission to fail. All successful people fail a lot (you just may not hear about it). When in doubt, do something. Sometimes any decision is the right decision. Analysis paralysis is a small business killer.
  • Understand that self-care is not self-indulgent. Taking care of yourself – taking time away to recharge, eating well, getting lots of rest, exercising – will make you more productive and successful. Don’t think you have time for that walk or run? I guarantee you will zip right through your tasks when you get back. We are not separate from our work. View your body as your business partner and take good care of it.

These may not be the business tips you were expecting, but I can assure you that this is my best advice. You probably have the skills and the industry knowledge (or you are working on acquiring it) that you need to succeed. The above points are where I see even the most competent professionals stumble and fall.

And, by the way, these also are important points for experienced entrepreneurs. I coach my clients around the self-care bullet on pretty much every call.

What advice would you give a new entrepreneur? What are you working through as a new business owner? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. You can also reach out to us on Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to How to make it to your first birthday

  1. Sarah Thompson October 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    And if I might add one… Don’t give up.

  2. Catherine Morgan October 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Right! Maybe the most important one. How did that not make the list???

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