If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be a successful business owner with my husband, Phil, I wouldn't have believed you. I had every intention of becoming a lawyer, but then I got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.
Back in 1997 when we started our first business filing company, we didn't have the world at our fingertips through the Internet to find answers to our questions. But somehow we made it -- and successfully, too. In 2005, Intuit bought our company from us and we were able to take a few years off to focus on our growing family. We decided to get back into the business filing game in 2009 with the launch of our current company, CorpNet.com, to continue helping entrepreneurs in their own journey to success.
But it wasn't as easy the second time around. I took for granted that the way we'd done things (marketing, operations, sales) would work just as well this time. I was wrong. Here, I share some of those truths that I learned during my journey as a business owner. It's my hope that this post will help you avoid some of the mistakes we made and fast track your way to success.
1. It's a Lifelong Endeavor.
Much like a child, a business is something you'll have for a long, long time, if you're lucky. I think some people assume they'll start a business, get rich, then go sun on a beach once they make their billions. For me, that sort of happened...but I got bored not working, and started my second business in the same industry.
I'm a lifer when it comes to entrepreneurship, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm willing to put in the hard work, dedication, and years to ensure my business succeeds.
Ask yourself: Before you take the plunge, ask yourself whether you're able to commit to a lifetime of business ownership. Can you see yourself running this (or more than one) business for the rest of your life?
2. You'll Never Be Perfect.
This, surprisingly, has been a relatively new revelation for me. After suffering from panic attacks during stressful periods in my business, I realized I'd been trying to pretend everything was fine in my business (and therefore, my life) when it wasn't. I had to step back, ask for help, and start being honest, both with myself and with others.
The result? My health and my business have improved. I'm more in line with what's happening in my business, and I'm not afraid to ask for help when I need it most.
Ask yourself: Can you handle imperfection? A lot of Type A personalities become entrepreneurs, but a lot of them also crumble under the stress. You will make mistakes. It's how you handle them that will determine your ability to succeed.
3. Your Family Will Be Affected.
Please don't start a business under the illusion that it will only affect yourself. The people you love will also be impacted, so know that going into it. When you work long hours, you leave disappointed family members at home. When you check your email while at your kids' soccer match, they notice.
It's definitely a challenge for me to keep my family my top priority, but after many years raising both four kids (ranging from toddler to teens), I've found my rhythm. For me, it means taking off my CEO hat when I leave the office, and completely shutting off from work when I'm with my kids.
Ask yourself: Can your family handle the strain you will put on it if you start this business? Sometimes there's no way to know until you've already begun, but some honest and open dialogue up front can help your family prepare for what's ahead.
4. You Can't Afford to Rest on Your Laurels.
When I ran my first business filing company, we dominated the market. We barely had to market it! So imagine my ego crush the second time around when I realized the game had completely changed. We now had a lot more competitors (including our former company), and Internet marketing was a whole new world for us!
I had to put my ego aside and find new ways to reach customers. I like to think I've learned a lot that has helped CorpNet become so successful because I've been constantly on the lookout for what my competitors are doing, as well as innovative strategies.
Ask yourself: Can I be constantly diligent to ensure that my company beats its competitors? Can I commit to trying new types of marketing?
5. You'll Never Want to Have a Boss Again.
Being an entrepreneur will spoil you for Corporate America. If you're lucky, you'll never have to send your resume out for a job ever again. Running a business -- including every aspect it, from accounting to sales -- will change you. It'll make you smarter, savvier, and more confident. And if you're successful with your business, there's no limit to what you can accomplish!
Ask yourself: Are you confident about cutting the cords with Corporate America? Or do you prefer the safety net that a steady paycheck provides?
Knowing exactly what you're getting into in starting a business can help you ensure it's the right fit for you.