It was in 2008 when I started freelancing. Back then, all I wanted was to save up for a laptop that I needed for my college presentations. Little did I know that one day, my “gigs” will grow into a thriving business that supports my family. Let me share business lessons I learned after a year of operation.
After six years of freelancing, a client urged me to establish my business to give it room to grow. “Working with you really helped me grow my business. My colleagues are asking me if they can hire you too!” she started. “Why don’t you duplicate yourself? Train a team of other Kims so you can help more business owners like me,” she suggested.
So in 2014, I finally took the plunge and registered my business.
Looking back, I realized that one of the hardest part of establishing a business is actually starting it. It’ll truly test your patience and at some point, it’ll make you want to just throw all the plans in the trash and just go back to what you’ve gotten used to doing. It’s easier that way, right?
But nothing good comes easy.
One line I always tell myself whenever I feel like ending my efforts in managing the business is this: “The problem with most people is, they give up too soon.” When you become an entrepreneur, learn when not to give up too soon. You have to be able to assess the situation so you’d know whether to keep fighting or if it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Here are six other business lessons I learned after a year of operation:
A business plan is a must have. It’s boring. It’s time consuming. It’ll drain your brain. But it’s worth it. My husband attempted to start a business towards the end of 2015, but couldn’t get it to take off because of one simple thing: it doesn’t have direction. Why doesn’t it have direction? Because he didn’t create a business plan prior to contacting potential clients and suppliers. Without a business plan in place, you won’t have anything to guide you as you attempt to get your business to kick off. You won’t have a clear idea of what your product or service really is and you won’t know who your customers really are.
Drafting a business plan and having it checked by a mentor is one of the most gruesome processes of starting a business (aside from registration because hello Philippine government processes LOL). So do give it time! You’ll thank yourself for it in the future.
Time is the most valuable investment. Speaking of time, I can say that it is the most valuable investment you can put into your business. More valuable the money, I have to say. Even if you have the capital to get your business started, if you don’t give it the time it needs to stabilize and grow, it won’t go anywhere.
One of our mentors is in the food and real estate industries. Although they have marketplaces and buildings all over Rizal, he still goes to work every single day. Why? Because your business won’t run itself on its own. Although you have admins and staff to help take care of business matters, it’s also important that you’re present to make sure everything goes smoothly.
I do the same thing. Although I have a team working with me, I still make sure I check their work to ensure quality. Quality, anyway, is the biggest thing we can offer our clients. And to attain top quality output, we have to give our businesses our time.
You’ll be broke for a while. Starting a business won’t guarantee that you’ll be a millionaire overnight. You have to work for your income, just like any job. Expect not to have a steady flow of income when you’re just starting so prepare for this phase.
When I started my business in 2014, most of the income went to operations. It took a couple of months before we really got a hang of the cash flow and started earning income for our personal account.
If you’re going to ask for something from someone, ask for advice. More than money, I think the best kind of help you can ask someone is advice. During the process of planning the business, we went to a lot of our friends who have their own businesses to ask for advice.
We took note of everything they said and reviewed every suggestion, recommendation, even criticism. One even said, “Hindi yan tatagal.” I still included that in my notes.
And since you asked for advice, be open to what you will get. When you ask for advice, be prepared to take it all in. Let go of your ego and accept all the advice you get–whether it’s from a startup owner, a business tycoon, or even a young undergrad. All their insights are important!
As I mentioned in the point above, one of our mentors even discouraged us…and that’s okay. The point of asking for advice is to strengthen the weak points of your business. When we were told that the kind of business we’re going into won’t last long, we asked why. That’s when one of our mentors gave us all the weaknesses in our business plan that they can think of.
From there, we addressed each weak point and attempted to strengthen each point to somewhat fail-proof the business. At the same time, we also reinforced our strong points since that’s where I know we’re good at.
Just keep trying. The saying, “Try and try until you succeed” is true. When you’re in business, you have to be willing to try and fail until you get the right formula. You’ll get there, don’t you worry!
I’ve only been in business for a year so I still have so many things to learn! It’s hard work but it’s very fulfilling. I can say that this is something I can imagine myself doing for years to come.
Are you a business owner too? What business lessons or tips can you share?