As the coordinator and teacher of Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center‘s Business Planning Class, I help small business entrepreneurs create solid business plans focused on management, marketing and money. Students learn, struggle and grow through the process… and many return to Renaissance to share their lessons learned as guest speakers, consultants and mentors.
At the last Business Planning Class graduation, Wendy Lieu, graduate of the Fall 2012 Business Planning Class, shared her wisdom. As of owner of Socola Chocolatier, Wendy Lieu handcrafts delicious artisanal confections.
Wendy’s Lessons Learned
1. If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never do it.
There is never a perfect moment to start a business or take that next step. You will learn as you go along, so don’t wait for the right moment. You will always need to make changes and adjustments along the way. Some things will work and some things won’t. Pivot and keep on moving!
2. Start with one step.
Looking at your to-do list can feel overwhelming and sometimes paralyzing. You can get things done. You just need to start with #1. Prioritize and set short, attainable goals that can be completed in the day and the week.
3. Be obsessed with your numbers.
If this business is truly your calling, create a solid business plan and remember to review it every month. Track your numbers, review the results, and make changes if needed. Your financials are your key business metric.
4. Challenges are a given.
There will be difficulties, so get over it. Laugh it off if you need to and move on. Sometimes you’ll try something out and it doesn’t work out. You’ve lost some money. You tried. It seemed like a good idea but it didn’t work out. Now try something else!
5. Work out – keep active.
Sitting in front of a laptop all day will drain you. Your health is just as important, if not more important, than running your business. Your business starts and ends with you. Take care of yourself.
6. Treat your employees with respect.
Treat employees like family (that you like). Make sure they like working for you, are learning from you, and understand their contributions to the overall success of the business.
7. Surround yourself with successful business owners.
Other small business owners have experienced similar challenges. They can help you. If not, they probably know someone who can. You are not alone. Get out there and connect with others who are a few steps ahead of you and have already solved the problem you are struggling with.
8. Focus ON your business.
Don’t get stuck attending only to daily operations. You need to be paying attention to the business as a whole, its future and its long-term sustainability.
9. Dreams don’t work unless you do.
You will be exhausted and wonder if it’s worth it. That’s normal. Remember that you decided to forgo the easy path in order to control your own destiny. What you get in return is the pride from working on the thing that you are most passionate about. It reminds me of this Jim Carey quote…“You could fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love!”
We are curious to know which of Wendy’s lessons resonates most with you. And also, what words of wisdom have kept you going through the challenging times of new business ownership?