I was nervous at the prospect of starting my own small business. I knew it was a tough world out there for entrepreneurs, and that many startups don’t survive past their first year. Instead of letting that fear and anxiety hold me back, I adopted an positive attitude about my potential for future success. I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was undoubtedly worth it. There’s a light at the end of every tunnel.
How My Small Business Survived the First Year
I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.
— Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
The first year of a small business is expensive. It takes a while to turn a meaningful profit, so being as thrifty as possible during the first year helped to minimize a lot of the financial stress I experienced. The office space I leased was a little bigger than what I needed – I chose that space so I would have room to grow. Until I could fill the space with my business, I rented out the empty offices as a storage solution on Spacer. I tried to keep everything digital, which reduced my material costs.
I learned as much as I could
No matter how much education you start with, there are still going to be things that you don’t know. It’s healthy to accept that you don’t know everything. I tried to avoid being stubborn about that, and I learned as much as I could. When I didn’t understand something or I found a seemingly unsolvable problem, I turned to the other more experienced business owners I met through professional networking. I accepted advice, and I made the most of every lesson they taught me.
I hired great talent
I had a very limited budget with which to pay my staff. I couldn’t hire very many people my first year, but a lot needed to be done. I found that the best solution to that issue was hiring only rock stars. It costed a little more, but it didn’t cost nearly as much as it would have if I had hired a giant team. I picked the people who were the best at what they did, empowered them as much as possible, and trusted them to deliver high-quality results. Nobody let me down. Quality wins over quantity every time.
I figured out my limits
Getting a business off the ground can be stressful and exhausting. It’s tempting to work through that stress and exhaustion, but no one really benefits. You can’t give it your all and make the right decisions if you’re too burned out. I learned that the hard way. You have to set up boundaries.
I forced myself to take weekends off, and I put a limit on how many hours above my personal schedule I could work in a week. Doing so allowed me to step away, spend some time with my family, and clear my head. I was able to return to work recharged and ready to take on a new set of challenges.
I looked toward the future
It’s hard to stay devoted when you don’t know where your efforts will lead. I made sure to remind myself that it wouldn’t always be the first year of my business. All of my hard work was going to pay off, and it was important to stay optimistic. All of the chaos and confusion that comes with the first year ultimately makes for less chaos and confusion in each year that comes after it. I was only going through the hard part – the rest wouldn’t be that way.
Taking care of your business in its first year is just as important as taking care of yourself. You need to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be if you want to see your business succeed. Make sure you’re growing as a person, and your business will grow as well.