What No One Tells You About Small-Business Ownership

Amanda Clark
Amanda Clark

There are plenty of perks to running your own business — the autonomy, the control, the ability to spend your days in a field you’re passionate about. But of course, there are also some very real hardships.

When you’re an entrepreneur, everything is ultimately on your shoulders. You can delegate and you can team build, but at the end of the day, the failure or success of the company comes down to you — and that can be daunting.

Take some encouragement in the fact that you’re not alone. All business owners feel overwhelmed sometimes, and all business owners learn some tough lessons they wish someone had told them before.

Here are a few examples — some tough but important realities that every business owner (or aspiring business owner) should know.

Your business is not a unique and special snowflake. It’s important to home in on a value proposition for your business — something that sets you apart from your competition — whether it’s speed, customer service, subject matter expertise, or affordability.

Ultimately, though, yours is not the only septic pumping team in town. You’re always going to be in competition with companies fairly similar to your own, and it’s important to recognize that.

Not everyone is going to love your business. And that’s OK. You don’t want to find yourself in the position where you’re trying to sell to everyone because that basically means you’re selling to nobody. Find your people — the ones who appreciate and need your services.

You’re going to make mistakes. We all do, and in some cases, those mistakes may even be expensive. Don’t beat yourself up about them, but do learn from them. Always ask: How can we avoid this problem the next time around?

In a new business, you need to say yes. Anytime you have the opportunity to take on a project or serve a customer, you should do so, especially at first. You can get more selective later on, but new ventures just don’t have the luxury of turning down opportunities, even unpleasant ones.

Your most valuable asset is the goodwill of your customers. The thing that’s ultimately going to keep your business afloat and bring in new referrals is the integrity with which you serve your clients. Earn their trust, and keep it. Nothing matters more to your ongoing success.

You can’t do everything yourself. Yes, you’re ultimately the one who’s responsible, but that doesn’t mean you can physically handle every single task on your own. It’s vital to hire people who you can trust to do a good job and then to delegate to them.

Outsourcing can be a lifesaver. This is especially true for newer businesses, where hiring full-time employees can be expensive, but outsourcing for one-time projects can be comparatively affordable.

Cash rules everything. Finally, every business needs to have cash on hand. Without it, you can’t make payroll, which means you don’t have a team. The uncollected money from a job you just finished doesn’t matter. What matters is actual money in the bank.

These are just some of the things business owners learn as they go, but by recognizing them early on, you have a head start in your small-business success.


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