You can do your research, you can speak to industry experts, but nothing really prepares you for the real-life journey of running your own small business. Speaking from experience you will no doubt have to learn some things the hard way, but I certainly wish someone had warned me of a few key watch-outs before diving into the deep end.
Taking into account that every individual’s goals, values, and business model are very different (we can’t all be sending cake in the mail, I hope!) I believe from one entrepreneur to another, that any insight is valuable and support in the early stages is so highly taken for granted.
Here are the top five things I wish I knew prior to launching Sweet Bakes:
1. Separating your finances
Separate your business finances from your personal to limit any complications, in the form of separate bank accounts and cards. This was a mistake I made early on as a sole trader and working through a backlog of incomes and expenses was a total nightmare. Sitting with a bank manager and tax professional from the get-go sounds so very obvious but something I somehow overlooked!
2. Work with experts
Invest in an accounting system and find a tax preparation firm that works for you, whether that be something quite visual or a stellar spreadsheet, it’s important to know what you need. If the process feels stressful and you shudder every time you send or receive an invoice, something isn’t quite right and it’s best to continue searching for systems and people who can remove any of those negative feelings.
3. Know your strengths
In small businesses, you will wear so many hats. Knowing which ones to hone your attention and which are better left in the hands of a professional is a really important process. You can’t excel in EVERY single area so pick ones that come naturally to you and that you’re enthusiastic about.
4. Be fearless
Abandon your irrational fears that everyone else around you has it all figured out and knows what they are doing – trust me we are all on the same learning journey! Never be afraid to ask for help and never stop asking questions. The biggest lessons I have learnt have been from my greatest mistakes!
5. Community is key
Establishing a community of those who are in your same industry that you can reach out to for support is crucial. Those are your peers, community over competition always. There is truly enough workaround for everyone to have their own piece of pie, a scarcity mindset will not benefit anybody and the connections I’ve made within my own industry (which can very often be extremely isolating) are friendships that I treasure.