10 lessons from my first year as an entrepreneur

by on June 2, 2011

Lessons in entrepreneurshipIt’s hard to believe it, but it has now been just over a year since I kissed a steady paycheck goodbye and launched myself headfirst into this wonderful, exhilarating,  magical world of entrepreneurship.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was very unfulfilled and unhappy in my job. I had all these marketing smarts, and I was just dying to use them to help businesses. I knew that I had so much to offer, but my current situation was not giving me the chance to shine on.

I was speaking with someone I highly respect about this and she asked, “Well, what would you do if you could do anything? What’s your dream?”

“Run my own marketing business,” I blurted out. (This was the first time I had ever dared utter the words out loud by the way) “But I can’t do it now. I’m not ready,” I added hastily.

My mentor just looked me straight in the eye with that piercing gaze of hers and simply said “Why not?”

Well, I actually couldn’t answer her question. I couldn’t find a true, legitimate excuse that wasn’t grounded in fear. Her question haunted me, and a few short months later, I just went for it. Dove off the deep end. Not really knowing how it was all going to work out, but knowing deep down that it would.

It’s been an incredible year and I’ve learned so much. And I’d like to share my top 10 entrepreneurial lessons with you…

1. There will be ups and downs

As you’re thinking about starting your business, you no doubt have a very rosy picture painted in your mind of just how awesome it’s going to be when you’re your own boss. I most certainly did.

What really surprised me though were the downs. The days when I just didn’t feel motivated. When I just wished I had a little more stability in my life. When I wasn’t having fun. When I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t expect these feelings and they hit me hard.

But I’ve come to learn that this is part of the journey. There will be ups and downs in all things in life. It doesn’t mean you should give up or that you made the wrong decision. You probably just need a little extra TLC. The up swing is right around the corner.

2. It’s going to take more time than you think

This is a very common mistake that a lot of new small business owners make. They figure that things will get rolling quickly, and that as soon as the basics are set up, the business will be ready to go.

I know I definitely underestimated the time it would take to get myself up and running. I was very naive. There is just so much to do. From setting up the business itself, to getting the marketing going. It’s a huge undertaking. And it’s never really “done”. There will always be new things to do.

Every business is different, so I can’t give you a set amount of time that you will need. All I can do is warn you to be prepared for the time commitment.

3. It’s going to take more money than you think

As per above, the idea that things will get rolling fast and that money will start coming in pronto is not necessarily the case. You must be prepared financially for the times when you will not be making that much (or anything). Carefully think through how you will come up with the financial support you need.

A loan. Your savings. Borrowing from family. Your spouse or partner. Something a little more creative (perhaps an exchange of services?).

You need to have a plan to cover your costs and, you know, eat and pay rent and stuff.

4. It’s going to take more smarts than you think

OK, this is not totally serious 🙂 You’re plenty smart you fabulous thing you!

But you will be wearing more hats than you ever thought possible. You are going to learn one (if not a dozen) new skills every day. You are going to have to pick up all kinds of new abilities and push yourself beyond what you may have believed you’re capable of.  You gotta be ready to embrace the whole learning process and absorb tons of new information.

5. Fully tap into online knowledge

There is so much information out there on the internet for small business owners to take advantage of. And so much of it is free, just like the small business marketing tips you get here. Use these incredible resources to help learn new things and propel your business forward.

With a jam packed schedule, it’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have the time to waste reading blogs and articles. But you must find a way to fit it in. I personally like to devote one day a week where I only focus on building up my business. This way, my online learning becomes a priority and something on my to-do list. Figure out what works for you and your schedule, and get that thinking cap on.

You’re already here, so that’s a great first step! (You’re signed up for email updates, right?). If you’re looking for some more goodies, I’ve put together a list of online resources for small businesses that I have found very valuable. Check them out here.

6. Professionals really can help

When starting up a small business, of course you are pinching every darn penny you have. This often leads to an obsession with do-it-yourself. DIY comes at a price though, and a rather dear one at that. How do you value your time and your sanity? If you can’t devote the time, if you can’t devote the patience, (or both!), hiring someone to do what does not come easily to you might be the best decision you ever make. Yes, there are costs, but in the long run, they will be well worth it.

You can also make the DIY route a whole lot easier by turning to online training created by an industry expert. There are so many wonderful e-courses and e-books out there that will save you alot of time and money.

7. Online marketing is a patience thing

From building up website traffic, Twitter followers, Facebook likes, LinkedIn connections, blog comments etc… – it takes effort and a large dose of patience. Overnight miracles are not possible, at least not in an ethical, genuine marketing from the heart way. And that’s what we’re all about here.

8. The law of reciprocity is in full effect

Want more Twitter love? Tweet other people’s stuff. Want more Facebook likes? Get ‘a liking on other pages. Give and you shall receive. It definitely works. I can vouch for that personally.

9. You are not alone

When you’re spending every waking moment living and breathing your small business, you can start to feel isolated. Even if you don’t work from home like I do. Because most other people don’t really get what you’re doing. Your family. Your friends. It can feel like you have no one to talk to that truly understands.

But you are not alone. There are TONS of small business owners and entrepreneurs out there that have the same doubts, fears, questions, complaints, hopes, dreams… that you do. You just haven’t met them yet. So get out there. Whether you join a local small business association. Or you get out online to the many communities that are chock-full of small business owners. Pick your fav platform – Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, forums – you’ll find small business compatriots all over the place.

10. Being your own boss rocks!

It’s worth all the struggle, headaches and difficulties. I honestly don’t think that I could ever go back. I’m so grateful that I found the courage in my heart to take this step. And I’m so proud of all of you that did too!

If you’re just starting out, I hope my personal experiences are a help to you. If you’ve been doing the small business thing for a while, I’m sure you’ve got more lessons of your own to share. Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Comments, likes and tweets are always appreciated! Did I mention that I LOVE your feedback?

Image source: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Marlee June 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Hey Martina!
Congrats! Doesn’t it feel great. You’re beating the odds day by day now – not that you wouldn’t. This is a great list. I especially relate to the “patience” related items you listed here. I always want results INSTANTLY! Unfortunately, not everything in business works that way. Here’s to many more great years of being your own boss baby!
Marlee recently posted..The BlogWorld NYC Recap No One Wrote- What These Big-Time Bloggers Are REALLY Like


Martina June 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Thanks Marlee! I hear ya about wanting instant gratification. Don’t we all? But good things come to those who wait. Appreciate your support girl 🙂


Laurent June 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Congratulations Martina. Being your own boss is the best way. Personally I find the ups and downs the hardest. During the downs you just have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with it. A great support network around you that understands what you’re going through helps too.


Martina June 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Many thanks Laurent! The downs sure are tough aren’t they? Turning to your mentors and other supportive folks you’ve connected with is a great way to gain some perspective and inject some positivity. We all need encouragement at one point or another.


Haley June 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm

These are really precious lessons that you have ever learn from your first year as entrepreneur.Thanks for your sharing.This post is very useful for newbies.
Haley recently posted..Getting Fast Loans- What You Need To Know


Martina June 4, 2011 at 9:20 am

Thanks for stopping by Haley!


Barb Smith July 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Hi Martina!

I couldn’t help to reflect on the similarities of our stories – I too decided to leave the Corporate world and put my marketing skills to work for myself. Thanks for the great reminders in your post – your support is appreciated more than you know 🙂


Martina July 6, 2011 at 8:27 am

Thanks for your kind words Barb! So glad my story resonated with you. Here’s to being your own boss 🙂


Lynne Quintana July 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Loved this post and dig your style – it feels like you’re right in front of me, sharing your experience over a cup of coffee. And it’s refreshing to read pieces that aren’t cushioned by fluff, BS, or padded with paragraphs of justifications. I admire your quiet confidence and thank you so much for opening up and teaching us what you have learned.

You are awesome – so glad we connected. Rock on and keep movin’ n shakin’ things in 2011!

Lynne Quintana recently posted..A Real Lone Wolf Needs a Real Personal Career Coach


Martina July 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

Wow Lynne, thanks so much for your kind words! Here’s to a rockin entrepreneurial 2011 for you too 🙂


Peggy Sinclair August 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

Thank You everyone, you made my day !


Martina August 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for stopping by Peggy!


Harold August 25, 2011 at 2:19 am

Good thing that you post this one. I enjoy reading your post and I learn from your past experience while reading this one. I would say that these tips are very important when we are running our very own business in the future.
Harold recently posted..autorent


Martina August 25, 2011 at 6:43 am

Thanks Harold!


Nicole Leedham January 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Great post Martina – only just reading it now from your latest e-newsletter. I quit my job on July 20 last year and agree with everything you have said. Only wish I had read this earlier so I wouldn’t have had to learn the hard lessons myself!


Martina January 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

Thanks Nicole! There’s definitely something to be said for learning things firsthand 🙂


Chrissy March 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Hi Martina! This is such a great post 🙂 I’ve just soft launched my business today and I can totally resonate with your top 10 lessons as early as now. After reading your post, I’m so positive and hopeful now that I can really make it happen this year! 🙂 Thanks so much 🙂

I also blog at lyndelsmom.blogspot.com


Martina March 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

Congrats on the launch Chrissy! Very exciting times. I’m so glad to hear that this post inspired you 🙂


Sam mattar August 23, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Thank you, such an inspiring story!


Martina Iring September 9, 2015 at 11:51 am

Thanks Sam! Glad you found it helpful 🙂


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: