If I could travel through time now in the 4th year of being an entrepreneur, like Alice, through a magical looking glass back to the start of my small business, I would tackle challenges that seemed much more difficult then, with the knowledge I have now. Like any situation in life, with time comes wisdom and this is no less applicable then to starting a small business. Below are a few things, that if I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self before I launched my business.
FOCUS ON YOUR MINDSET
I started my company under necessity. My previous job had been eliminated and I needed to find work that I felt challenged me and also provided me with the flexibility I desired. My mindset at the time was to create a job for myself, be my own boss, answer only to me. But there is a big difference between building a business and building a job for yourself. As time has gone by and my business has grown, it has become clear to me that once I decided that I was a business owner, and my services were in demand, the clients started coming regularly.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
When I initially was researching being an entrepreneur, I thought that I wanted to start a consignment store. Then, I stumbled upon a restaurant chain in Oshawa that I thought would do well in the St. Thomas area. I took both of these ideas to the Elgin Business Resource Centre where I spoke with a business counsellor and she listened to my ideas and then reviewed my resume and then she gave me some sage advice that set me on the right path. She asked me, “Have you ever worked in a restaurant before?” I answered no. She then asked “Do you like working in retail and waiting on people?”. I again answered no. She then recommended to me that I go home and get a journal and write down all of my strengths, my skills, the things that I do best and what I like to do. And then see if I could create a business from my strengths. Although I objected at the time, this was the best advice I have ever received career-wise.
If you had asked me four years ago if I would ever start my own business, I would have told you that you were crazy. I was raised to believe that I had to work for someone else, do a good job, get a good pension and retire. After I had made my list of my strengths and skill sets, I launched a service based business that offered a lot of options. I received feedback from people that didn’t believe I could do all of those services well. Implying that I was a ‘jack of all trades – master of none’. I was offering services that I thought people would pay for, while ignoring my true passion and strengths. Once I gained the confidence that my political background and experience was a marketable service, and I put myself out there as a political advisor and business consultant my business shifted and grew almost overnight.
Similar to Alice, my looking-glass self is pretty happy with how things have turned out in the present.