I remember when my son was two days old. As I walked a crying baby at 2:30 in the morning, the thought hit me like a splash of water, “This baby thing is hard.” Well that seems just as obvious as when I thought, “Starting a business is hard.” about six months into it the launch phase. Please believe me when I say that I’m in no way putting myself on a pedestal. This list includes items that I have thought or maybe failed to do at one point or another. Take this opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

  1. Starting a Business is Hard. I’m not implying that anyone would start a business and actually think it was going to be a breeze but every business owner has moment when they realize it’s much harder than anticipated. As you work your 80 hours a week for about 12 hours of pay, the absolute truth hits you. When you start your business go into it with your eyes open from the start. You will work harder than you ever did before and get paid less (initially) so save have a nice financial base and support system. You won’t make it if you don’t.
  2. Running a business and marketing go hand in hand. Let’s start with the obvious. You see it time and time again; professionals start a business without giving one thought to how they are going to market it. Most often they take the, “If you build they will come” approach. I’m sorry to inform you, that is only a movie. In the real world you have to market. The moment you know you are starting a business, tell everyone. And I mean EVERYONE! Friends, family, acquaintances and such. After having three different friends on three different occasions, hire another marketing agency because they had no idea I owned a marketing firm I got the hint. You never know when someone will need your services.
  3. Think about your finances. More importantly think about how you are going to handle your business finances. Separate your personal finances from your business finances from the beginning. It’s hard to know if you’re successful when you can’t separate what was purchased for work or personal. As you set up your business financial plan and look into establishing accounting software that works for you and your business. Start with creating a system for inputting your expenses and income. Set up categories that will help you prepare your taxes at the end of the year. As I spent hours and hours preparing my taxes by trying to remember why I purchased what I did I thought, “maybe it would be helpful to read the QuickBooks tutorial.”
  4. Register your company name. This does not mean purchase your website domain name. Anyone can go online and purchase a domain name. To prevent getting that phone call from an established business with a ‘cease and desist’ take the time to contact your local government agency to find out how to legally reserves your name. And do this before you’ve invested time and resources into your company.
  5. Define a target audience. So, maybe you sell straws and everyone can use straws, technically. You still need to define YOUR target audience. When launching a business your start-up funds are low. (I’m assuming your smart and you have included a marketing budget you’re your business plan (even if it’s small).) To stretch that budget as far as possible you need to define a primary target, right down to the fine details. Define an age, sex, location and even general details like who they are and where they hang out. This will allow you to focus your initial marketing efforts more strategically. Little questions will be easier to answer like which chamber of commerce to join. An example being joining a chamber that has a large Fortune 500 database will not be helpful to your business if your target audience includes reaching out to small and mid-size businesses.

Starting a business is hard work and there are there is a seemingly never-ending task list of things to do. This list is a sampling of those few items that most budding entrepreneurs consistently underestimate the importance of completing. Good luck with your business.