1. You learn to manage expectations.The first mistake newbies to the business of running a business make is making promises to deliver things within very short deadlines – you’re eager to please and also to prove that you made the right choice by starting your business. So you find yourself at 3am working very hard to deliver whatever you promised to your client, muttering under your breath wondering why on earth you would ever commit to delivering so much in so little time.The good news is, you learn to be professional in estimating your work and how long it takes, and you’re able to give realistic time frames and manage your customers expectations. You will learn also, how to manage your own expectations. This includes, what you can and cannot do in one day. You learn, that you are not a superhero, and no, you cannot do it all in one day, alone.
2. You learn to follow through with your commitments. It is here, when you are faced between staying an extra few hours in the evening so that you can deliver the project/product/service to your client(s) that you will begin to understand just what it means to be the founder of a business. Following through with your commitments also means, by the way, that you have a responsibility to your team, to your customers, to yourself. So you do not have the luxury to quit, when the going gets a little bit hard or tough.
3. You begin to learn to differentiate what’s important, and what’s not. Priorities – the lines between work, family, health, social life begin to look very, very real. Never will your ability to differentiate what is important and what is not be more tested than when you found your business. Your time, energy, brainpower, physical and basically, everything about you centers around the business you have just started. It is okay at the beginning where you have the support of most people, and even a few cheers here and there from your employed friends who find you oh so courageous for venturing out on your own.
The real test comes in the 3-18 months period when your business really begins to take a demand on you. Relationships will be strained, you will not have time to do everything on the social calendar, and even holidays begin to feel like unwelcome interruptions to the business cycle.
4. You learn the value of what you’re doing. (This one is so key.) Many times we launch into business euphoric with the prospect of finally being entrepreneurs – “earning money through my own hard work and sweat, and answering to no one but myself.” Until you learn that your customers are your bosses. Your employees are your bosses. You are accountable to them. You learn that you cannot just take a day off when you feel like, or not show up to work. There are employees , and their families who all depend on you. You have also made a promise to your customers, and they are also depending on you.
If you fail to deliver, they lose in some way – be it money, or their credibility or their own customers. You suddenly see that you are not just running a business, but are part of a greater eco-system that runs through the efforts you make in your business.
5. You learn to hustle. Not the slang version of earning one’s living by illicit or unethical means, but the one where you learn to be aggressive, especially in business or other financial dealings. You should know that your ability to hustle will be very key in how your business does, especially in the first few months. You may have heard of the phrase “Get out of the building and get some customers”. Yes, it is true.
Putting up some flyers around town, having a great website, and a killer Facebook page are not enough to have customers just lining up at your door. So figure out who you are selling your product to, pick up the phone, and call them. Better yet, go where they are. When performance anxiety creeps up, swallow hard, and “just do it”.
Have more things you’d like to add? Feel free to add to this list through the comments sections.