No-Filter Lessons from New Entrepreneurs
When we organized a small and informal get together with some other Vancouver entrepreneurs with Kelly from Pender Grocery, we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew it would be fun, we’d knew we’d have a drink or two and catch up, but we weren’t positive much would come of it.
We have never been so happy to be wrong. Something about a small group really helps people connect and share personal stories, advice, and insights. As an entrepreneur (even if it’s a side hustle), you can be connecting with dozens of people every day but ultimately, it can be quite lonely. There is no clear path to success and everyone’s journey is different. You often find yourself asking if you’re making the best choices.
In only 90 minutes we had some fantastic conversations. Here are a few of the topics that are still simmering in our brains:
The First Few Years Of Your Business Involve a Ton of Adapting (And It’s a Grind)
One the first things someone said when we started to talk about our small business journey was “Did anyone else think they’d be making way more money by now?” which immediately broke the ice and had us nodding our heads in agreement. Some parts of being an entrepreneur are much easier than you expect, but we can generally say that expectations of success are way too high. The seeds you plant for your business take time to grow and flower. Once you realize that success is a journey and not a short-term project, you’re going to be in a much better headspace to reach your goals.
The other thing we all seemed to discover is that your business goes through a ton of change in the first few years. You can have a detailed business plan, done extensive marketing research, and lined all your ducks up in a row, but actually launching and running your business is another beast entirely. We talked about how we had to adjust our target markets after launching, needing to rebrand within the first few years, and even changing retail spaces only a few months after opening. If you’re smart you’re going to evolve with demand and be adaptable to change, which is much easier as a small business than a large corporation.
It’s a difficult balance between being patient and allowing your business to grow while being able to identify when something isn’t working.
No One Really Knows What They’re Doing
One thing we need to remind ourselves is that everyone is learning as they go and nobody knows what the right answer is all the time. Generally we’re all taking our best guess. As a small business owner, it’s easy to agonize over even the smallest decisions because each one you make carries weight.
Take a moment to remind yourself that even if you’re not totally sure of what you’re doing, no one else really knows either- at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to figure it out for ourselves.
Work On the Business Not In the Business
When this was said, it was like an actual light bulb went off in our heads. As a business owner, it’s tempting to want to work on every tiny aspect of your projects because no one knows the business like you do. But when you’re in the trenches doing every single daily task, you’re taking less time to think about big-picture strategies that will help your business grow, scale, and evolve. Entrepreneurs should get to a point where they can start to offload responsibilities either to staff, agencies, or partners and it’s important to do so. If you’re taking an hour every day to respond to customer questions on Twitter, you’re working in the business, not on the business.