Starting a Business: The Hard Lessons I Learned and What I Wish I Had Known

May 11, 2023
women business start up

Women have long been encouraged to pursue certain traditional roles such as teaching, nursing, or homemaking. While there is nothing wrong with these professions, they may not provide the entrepreneurial skills necessary for starting a business. When women decide to start a business after years in these roles, they may face unique challenges.

One major challenge is the lack of business experience and training. Women who have spent their careers in more traditional roles may not have had the opportunity to develop the necessary business skills such as marketing, accounting, and financial management.

When starting a new business, having business experience can be a significant advantage. Without prior experience, entrepreneurs may struggle to understand the complexities of running a business, such as developing a viable business plan, conducting market research, setting up financial and accounting systems, and establishing effective marketing strategies. A lack of experience may also result in poor decision-making, as entrepreneurs may not fully understand the consequences of their actions.

For example, they may not know how to manage cash flow, leading to financial instability and potential failure. Additionally, inexperienced entrepreneurs may struggle to navigate the legal and regulatory requirements associated with starting and running a business, which can result in costly penalties or legal issues.

A lack of business experience may make it difficult to attract investors or secure funding, as investors typically prefer entrepreneurs with a track record of success. In summary, a lack of business experience can cause significant problems when starting a new business, making it challenging to establish a successful and sustainable enterprise.  People who are just starting up may lack access to networks of other entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors, which can be crucial for success in the business world.

But let's talk about the experience a teacher, stay-at-home mom, or nurse does have to start a new business venture. While they may not have specific business experience, they likely have transferable skills and valuable experience that can be applied to entrepreneurship.

For example, teachers have strong communication and organizational skills, which can be crucial for managing employees and interacting with customers. Stay-at-home moms have experience managing a household and budget, which can translate into effective financial management and budgeting for a business. Nurses have experience working under pressure and making critical decisions, which can be valuable in a fast-paced business environment.

Additionally, these professions often require strong interpersonal skills, such as empathy and active listening, which can be useful in customer service and relationship management. In summary, while they may not have traditional business experience, teachers, stay-at-home moms, and nurses have valuable skills and experience that can be applied to starting a new business venture.

So for someone just starting their journey as an entrepreneur, there are several ways that someone new to business can gain valuable experience:

  1. Internships and apprenticeships: Internships and apprenticeships are a great way to gain practical experience and learn about the inner workings of a business. Many companies offer these opportunities to students or young professionals, providing hands-on training and exposure to different aspects of the business.
  2. Mentorship: Finding a mentor who has experience in the business world can be a valuable source of guidance and advice. A mentor can provide insights into the industry, help develop business skills, and offer support and encouragement.
  3. Networking: Networking can be an excellent way to connect with other professionals in the industry and learn from their experiences. Attending industry events and conferences, joining professional associations, and engaging with other entrepreneurs on social media can all help expand a person's network and gain valuable insights.
  4. Education and training: Taking courses or pursuing a degree in business can provide a strong foundation in business concepts and practices. There are also many online courses and resources available for those who want to learn specific skills or areas of expertise.
  5. Starting a small business: Starting a small business can be an excellent way to gain hands-on experience and learn about the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship. Even if the business is small, the experience gained from starting and running it can be invaluable.

As reported in this Forbes article,  More Women Leaving the Workplace after the Pandemic  after the pandemic, more and more women chose to leave the workforce and start their own business.  New women business owners need to be aware of some of the most common pitfalls of starting their own business.

When first starting out, entrepreneurs can make several classic mistakes that can be detrimental to their business. One of the most common mistakes is not doing enough market research before launching the business. This can lead to a lack of understanding of the target audience, resulting in products or services that don't meet customer needs or preferences.

Another common mistake is underestimating the importance of cash flow management. Entrepreneurs may focus on revenue growth and neglect to monitor their expenses, resulting in financial instability or even failure.

Here is a great article about the average cost of starting a new business:  Start a Business: How Much Cash Will You Need?

Additionally, some entrepreneurs may try to do everything themselves instead of delegating tasks or seeking help from others. This can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and a lack of focus on critical aspects of the business.

Entrepreneurs may fail to develop a solid business plan, including a marketing strategy, financial projections, and a growth plan. This can lead to a lack of direction and focus, making it difficult to achieve long-term success. While entrepreneurship is an exciting and rewarding journey, it's essential to avoid classic mistakes that can impede progress and lead to failure.

Starting a business can be a challenging and unpredictable journey, and I am no exception when it comes to making classic mistakes. In my case, I made several errors that have impacted my business over the years.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was losing a property management company because I had not done the proper paperwork with a partner who suddenly died. The legal complications that followed were both time-consuming and costly.

Another mistake I made was partnering financially with people who did not share the same values. This led to disagreements and conflicts over business decisions, which ultimately resulted in the end of our partnership.

Lastly, I hired the wrong type of people to grow my business, including individuals who lacked the necessary skills or were not a good fit for the company culture. These mistakes taught me valuable lessons, including the importance of clear communication, having a solid legal foundation, partnering with like-minded individuals, and hiring the right people for the right job.

As an entrepreneur, it's essential to learn from mistakes and use them as opportunities to improve and grow the business. Looking back, I can see how some of the mistakes I made could have been avoided if I had known to take certain steps.

By taking the time to research and plan thoroughly could have helped me avoid these costly mistakes. In the case of losing a property management company, I could have taken the necessary steps to protect my business interests by ensuring that all legal paperwork was properly filed and documented.

I could have also partnered financially with people who shared the same values and vision for the business, reducing the likelihood of conflicts and disagreements down the road.

Finally, to avoid hiring the wrong type of people, I could have implemented a more rigorous hiring process that focused on skills, experience, and cultural fit.

By taking the time to research, plan, and execute these steps, I could have saved time, money, and frustration, and set my business up for long-term success. As an entrepreneur, it's essential to approach each decision with intention and care, considering both the short-term and long-term consequences, and being willing to make adjustments along the way to ensure success.

In conclusion, starting a business can be an exciting, challenging, and rewarding journey. However, it's important to learn from the mistakes of others to avoid costly errors and setbacks.

As an entrepreneur who has made some missteps along the way, I hope that sharing my experiences can save you time and money as you embark on your entrepreneurship journey. By taking the time to research, plan, and execute your vision with intention and care, you can set yourself up for success and avoid the common mistakes that many entrepreneurs make.

Remember to prioritize legal and financial protection, partner with like-minded individuals, and hire the right people for the job. Embrace the journey with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to excellence, and you will be well on your way to building a thriving business.

Wishing you all the best as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey!

P.S. If I can ever answer your questions about starting a business schedule a call with me.