2009 was good to me. It was the year I woke up and finally started my first business. There have been a myriad of challenges already in these first several months, but tons of reward .. both professionally and individually. It wasn’t all sun and Coronas. I made some mistakes which could have very well knocked me off track and halted all progress. The important thing I learned is that I’m determined to make this work and a few bumps in the road are not going to keep me down.
I’m already at least a dozen mistakes deep. Let’s pick one for today — Underestimating the work. I’ll touch upon a few others in later posts.
If I had to guess, I’d say that over the past year I’ve probably read a couple thousand blog posts, 5 books, and countless articles in both traditional press and online media. I’ve attended conferences. (OK you get it) … all preparing me for the life and work of turning my entrepreneurial habits into To-Do lists. And not once did any of that content mention what a cake-walk building a business is. So without going into elaborate detail, let me repeat … building a business, especially on your own, is gut-wrenching.
My website will, in essence, be an online retail site. I’ve been in the software business for 10+ years and had over 2 years of hands-on experience building and managing an eCommerce site. You’d think I would have an A to Z vision in tact … know exactly what to do first, which tools to use, people to network with, places to find help. Long answer short, not the case. I have been in over my head since day one. See, unless I was performing my role as a Project Manager along with the roles of everyone else at my job … sales, accounting, customer support, vendor relations … I could not have been prepared. Remember, you are a company of one (or few, if you have partners).
Don’t freak out. Write a business plan. Drub up 70 pages, or dump your ideas onto a Starbucks napkin, just be honest with your ideas and with yourself and build from there. Read and research thoroughly. Do as many different things as you can yourself so that you know how it works and how you want it done before you hand it to someone else. Get others input and advice, but always build your vision. If you need help, ask for it, just be careful who you engage and what they’re worth. (In the coming days I’m going to share with you another mistake I made: Hiring in a hurry.)
Surprise! It’s a lot of work. As long as you’re dedicated you’ll eventually see the fruits. Most importantly, and like your Mom used to (still does) tell you, “one thing at a time, sonny boy.”