What I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Own Business

Over the course of my life, I have tried to start up many businesses with varying levels of success. It started loosely with selling sweets in school, selling on Ebay, then became more formal when I opened up a carwash and then a bakery amongst other things.

I was never afraid to get my hands dirty per se, or try new things, but certainly as i got older I became slightly more risk averse and less adventurous. Time was suddenly more precious and I was definitely more careful when it came to my finances. What I do wish was that I was given, or had seeked, more advice before starting my businesses. Sure they were a learning curve, but I feel much of the negative experiences could have been avoided. Here is a look at some of the things I wish I had known before starting my own business.

1) Mentors can be very helpful

I had never considered using a mentor, at least knowingly. However my advice to many budding entrepreneurs would be to seek one in the industry you are looking to do business in. Guidance from those who have had much experience will not only save you time and money, but will provide a priceless insight into whatever industry you plan on entering.

2) Technology is your friend

Don’t be that stubborn business owner, stuck in his ways and refusing to move with the times. We’ve seen stores that refuse to invest in EPoS systems or build an online presence, die out prematurely. When I started my first two businesses I was quite strapped for cash, so I didn’t bother thinking about investing in technology, and what a mistake that was. I sold small items on Ebay, but i could have invested in an online store to help build my brand and give me solid groundwork for the future.

With my current business I made no such mistake; I do my research on the latest commercial technologies and assess if they would be of value to us. My favourite new addition is a room booking system (see the room scheduler from Pronestor here) that has made my office more efficient and productive.

3) Debt can be advantageous

Most of us grew up believing that being in debt was a bad thing, and while it often can be, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Taking up loans is a common way of acquiring debt, but what you use it for is what dictates whether it is good or bad debt. To put it simply, for example, using a credit card you can’t afford to pay back is bad debt. However, taking out a mortgage to purchase a property that will generate rental income that is greater than your repayment amount can be considered good debt.

Don’t be afraid to take on debt when starting a business, especially if you calculate that it will help you get a better return on your investment.