Ten unspoken truths about starting a business – Part 1

When I left a well-paid corporate gig eight years ago to start my business, there was no road map. There’s a lot that goes unsaid in business and it’s not always possible to build a reputable brand if you’re being truly honest about how hard it is to keep the wheels in motion. But, having now moved into a quietly confident phase of my start-up business, here are my to-date unspoken truths about starting a business.

1. Nobody has the answers

Ask for help and advice, but know that nobody has the answers. Many people told me to quit and cut my losses in the early days and now plenty of people tell me my dreams aren’t big enough. Navigating business is about taking small steps and tuning into yourself and knowing what you think is right. Don’t copy others, go out of your way to be unique and stand out from the crowd. Even if a business looks like they are on an easy road, I guarantee behind the scenes there have been setbacks.

 2. Everyone struggles emotionally

I was not prepared for the impact this rollercoaster would have on my physical and emotional wellbeing. Business can be a really lonely ride. Stress, pressure from clients, lack of time, deadlines, stock measures and financial strain can do all kinds of damage. There are no days off when you are responsible for a business, so you have to look after yourself to avoid burnout. Prepare your wellness plan early on and gather the right people and tools to invest in this as your business grows. Your heath is far more important than you next sale. I understand this now.

 3. Extreme ownership 

Be real. You can feed yourself stories of encouragement each day. You can tell yourself your business is working. But is it? If you constantly feed yourself true lies, you’re going to end up in hot water fast. It’s perfectly okay to fail. It’s alright to be vulnerable. If something doesn’t work, pivot quickly and own the fact that the idea is dead in the water. It’s not okay to make excuses to yourself and others. Owning it is one of the most vital aspects of business leadership I have learned.

4. Everything takes three times longer than you ever anticipated

Even if you have your fingers constantly on the pulse, take it from me.. it will always take longer to roll out and cost more than you first calculated. Be realistic.

5. There is no easy way to make money fast

It’s often said that most businesses don’t survive two years. If they can get to five, they are on their way. I agree, be prepared to commit for the long haul and limit your expectations around time. Consistency and patience are the keys. Those first two years are about finding your place in your relevant market and purely surviving.  

Stay tuned for my next five unspoken truths about what it’s like to start your own business, which I’ll cover next month.

Sara James, Founder, Perth Style Co