On another blog (Way to Grow) last December, I cited the learnings of an entrepreneur, James Archer, at the end of his first year. Sadly, his original post is no longer available. (Here’s where the link goes today.) And I didn’t go into detail then about Archer’s 7 Lessons Learned, but I did make note of his 7 lessons. Here they are again. The following comments on each are mine, not his.
1. Don’t forget to plan for success – Having an idea in your head isn’t the same as a plan. A written plan, with goals and dates, helps make you accountable to yourself and is essential when you need to ask for a loan or equity funding.
2. Don’t let the Good keep you from the Great – You only become better by reaching for BHAGs – Big Hairy, Audacious Goals. Ask any successful athlete. Expect more of yourself and your business, or you’ll only be as good as you currently are.
3. Don’t deliver junk – As Abe Lincoln said, You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Insist on delivering quality if you want word-of-mouth and repeat business. Delivering “junk” has its consequences.
4. Long hours? Poor project management – I found this interesting, because everyone says when you start your own business, expect to put in 18 hour days. Yes and no. Project management is about setting priorities and realistic deadlines, and then sticking to them. Focus only on what really matters. Skip the non-essential.
5. Buy good stuff – If you’re under-capitalized, this one is a problem. I’ll qualify the point by saying, apply this to the tools of your trade and the materials you use in what you deliver to customers. For example, if you open a bookkeeping service, it’s OK to buy office furniture at a garage sale, but make sure you have the best software.
6. Get involved – I don’t remember Archer’s point on this, but I can tell you that volunteering in your community and joining industry organizations will reward you down the road through the exposure you get to prospective customers.
7. Remember the point – Here, too, is where the business plan helps. It states the point in the first place and gives you a reference point. Let me qualify this one: If a fabulous business opportunity comes your way that wasn’t in your business plan, evaluate it. But remember your vision, and keep focused in that direction.
Anyone else have any good first year lessons?