What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Small Business

Before you start a small business

Richard Armour, a humorist from California, is said to have coined the phrase: “Most people’s hindsight is 20-20.” It comes from the way people describe good vision or seeing things clearly.  In today’s blog, we’ll talk about a few things many successful small business owners wish they had known, before starting a small business.


Thoroughly investigate the type of business you want to own:

You might think that there is a giant need for the type of business you want to start, that everyone would love to own one of your widgets or hand-knitted stuffed animals. But is this a reality? Ask around, try a few test-sales, investigate similar companies.

Investigate the location of where you want to put your small business. If, for instance you want to start a restaurant selling gourmet tacos, but there are 2 other taco restaurants on the same street…is it the right place for your small business?  What about accessibility? Can people get to your business easily? Will you be able to offer delivery, or curb-side options?

Many entrepreneurs wish they had investigated the type of business, location, and overall effort it would take, before they began their small business.


Spend the time and money to set up your business correctly:

It’s important to get all of the legal and financial structures in place before you open a small business. Spend the time and money to get everything set up correctly the first time. Dot your legal “I’s” and cross your financial “t’s” with the best experts for your small business. Purchase the right equipment and have in place the experts you will need.


Understand that great help will be hard to find and keep:

It’s not just a cliché that “good help is hard to find” it really is difficult for any business. Prepare for the fact that it will be difficult to hire and keep good people. Some industries have higher turnover, others aren’t able to offer a wage high enough to motivate employees to stay. Have a plan for the times you can’t get help; maybe you have family you can bring in, close friends or even eager, happy customers. Be ready to be flexible with your hiring strategy to make it work.


Prepare for Stress:

Many entrepreneurs have reported that they knew starting a small business would be stressful, but they under-estimated just how stressful things could get. It helps to keep reminding yourself that the most stressful days are temporary, that in the long run, the work and frustrations will be worth it.  Pre-plan time to get away from your business. Work in vacations or a day off a week. Find a mentor to talk to, or even a business counselor to keep you mentally on track to run your business.

Other entrepreneurs told us it helped to keep a part-time job while they were setting up their new business. Part time work helped them meet financial obligations of the new business and gave them peace-of-mind while getting started.


Work smarter not harder:

Yes, another cliché, but many successful business owners tell us that working themselves into burnout did nothing to improve their small business. As an entrepreneur, remember to delegate as much as you possibly can. Get automated processes for your business which could include computerizing the order process, hiring a company to do your payroll, or purchasing machines to do tasks.


Take time out for education:

Simple things like spending an hour a week to further your business knowledge can go a long way in making you succeed. Free programs – like those we have available at Paris SBDC – are extremely beneficial and take very little time. In fact, check out our calendar HERE to see some of the programs and education available right now!


Be prepared to adapt:

You may have five or six planned product lines, but only two sell regularly. Be prepared to adapt your business to cater to those bigger sales. Maybe one of the special types of yarn that you use for your stuffed unicorn is no longer available – be prepared to substitute and adjust pricing as necessary. Have a plan for adapting to crazy situations – like a pandemic.


It will get lonely:

This one surprised us – but nearly every entrepreneur and small business owner surveyed last year admitted that building a business is a lonely endeavor. Unlike working for a company, where you have co-workers and a sense of community, suddenly every decision and responsibility falls on your shoulders. For some, that can be a heavy, lonesome burden to carry. Here are some tips to help combat that loneliness:

  • Consider a co-owner or partner.
  • Create a safety net of people: maybe your family, spouse or good friends.
  • Don’t hesitate to get outside help, advice or counseling.
  • Network to talk to other entrepreneurs. Sometimes it just helps to hear that others are having the same struggles you are having.
  • Take some “me time” away from the business and with people you enjoy.


It is incredibly rewarding:

Making your own business successful is incredibly rewarding. You will have the flexibility, independence and eventually, monetary rewards you’ve been hoping for. Watching your business grow and do well gives you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Over half of the entrepreneurs surveyed by Manta said the top reward of owning a company is having the freedom to control your own destiny.


For additional information on owning your own small business and for ideas of how to start a small business, please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area:  Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.