Building a Business

9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business

Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
May 15, 2024

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Here are 9 lessons I wish I knew before starting a business. I hope you learn from my mistakes!

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Starting a business was one of the most rewarding things I've done.  It's also proved to be one of the most challenging!

Here are 9 lessons I wish I knew before starting a business.  I hope you learn from my mistakes.

🎥 You can also watch Joe tell you about these right here 👇

The Perfect Time to Start

Item number one is that there is no perfect time to start your business.

Many entrepreneurs wait for what they perceive as the perfect moment to start a business.

A time when conditions seem ideal and risks are minimal. 

In reality, that moment doesn’t actually exist 

The truth is, the best time to start working toward your goals was yesterday, but the next best time is now.

Delaying your start while waiting for a flawless opportunity will slow down your progress.

So take action, however small it may be. 

Whether it's making a decision, completing a task on your to-do list, or even just creating the to-do list in the first place, each action moves you closer to your goals.

In entrepreneurship, momentum builds through action, not through waiting. 

Start now, make adjustments as needed, and keep moving forward. 

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

Ok, next up we’re getting into the way-back machine and traveling back in time to the totally radical year of 1986.

In the classic Nintendo game “The Legend of Zelda,” a wise old man’s words to the young hero, Link, still stick with me: “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”

The now iconic phrase underlines the importance of support and preparation in the face of life’s many adventures.

This lesson is equally applicable to business as it was to rescuing Princess Zelda from the evil clutches of Gannon.

Seeking help, whether through mentorship, books, educational resources, or collaboration, is essential for navigating the complexities of business. 

Mentors, especially those who have already been through your challenges and achieved your goals, provide valuable insights. 

At Avalon Accounting, when we were struggling to hit our profit targets, we sought guidance from experienced mentors. 

They had been there, done that and already achieved the success that we were after. Their wisdom was crucial in steering us through some difficult times. 

So please seek help and embrace the support available to you.

Like Link, you don't have to face your business challenges without support. 

In the journey of entrepreneurship, it's dangerous to go alone.

The Seven Day Business Starter

And speaking of finding some help, if you’re looking for guidance to turn your great idea into a thriving business, we’ve built a step-by-step framework that you can follow.

In the Seven Day Business Starter course, we walk you through all of the steps required to start and build a successful business.

We even went to the extent of starting a new business, Avalon Academy, just to demonstrate how to do it.

Check out the link in the description, and somewhere up here for more information.

And we’ve set up an exclusive discount for viewers of this YouTube channel. Just use the coupon code “7DBSLAUNCH40” to get 40% off when you enroll. 

Protect Your #1 Asset

Lesson number three was one that I had to learn the hard way.

Especially at the start of building a business, you are its most valuable asset, and your well-being can be easy to overlook.

Fatigue and burnout can creep in if you’re constantly working without time to look after yourself and recover.  

I’ve been at that point where I felt so depleted that my motivation and energy to keep pushing forward were all but gone. That situation isn’t healthy and it’s not productive for your business.

Prioritize yourself and strike a balance between working and self-care.

Things like getting exercise, sleeping better and eating well are such common vernacular that we sometimes ignore the sentiment, and we suffer for that.

Make sure you take time to look after yourself and you’ll be far more effective at work. You'll probably enjoy it more too!

I’m Not Ready

Number 4 on our list is all about feeling ready.

And it’s a familiar refrain that I often hear from aspiring entrepreneurs, and certainly within myself. 

“I’m not ready.”

But beneath that sentiment there is often a deeper truth, not about readiness, but about fear and uncertainty.

The journey to entrepreneurship often begins with a desire and an idea. However, many hesitate at the starting line, held back by the belief that they’re not ready. 

This hesitation is often more than just a lack of preparation; it usually comes from the need to find the confidence to take that first step.

So what does it mean to be truly ready? 

Is it having unshakeable confidence or an answer to every possible scenario? 

I would say most certainly not. No entrepreneur I’ve ever met starts with complete certainty. It’s more of a willingness to embrace the unknown than it is having all the answers. 

Often, the wait for readiness is a disguise for fear.  Fear of failure, fear of the unknown or fear of taking risks. 

It's comfortable to remain in the planning phase where risks are just theoretical. But real growth happens when we take action.

Breaking free from this cycle requires a shift in perspective. 

Action builds confidence, not the other way around. 

Start with small, manageable steps. Create a plan, set a deadline, take a single action towards your goal each day. These actions accumulate, transforming 'not ready' into 'ready enough.'

You’re Going to be Bad at First

The 5th item on this list is just the fact that you’re probably not going to be great at running a business at first.

You might not even be good at delivering your service or product in the beginning.

And that’s OK.

The very beginning of your business is actually a great time to offer your product or service for free.  

I know there's a lot of talk about undervaluing your time and getting paid for your work. However there is so much you can learn by giving away your time at first.

It's a valuable opportunity to improve skills, gain feedback, and establish a customer base. As you learn and your skills grow, so will the quality of your offering. 

And as you improve, you’ll find that your initial free customers will be willing to pay you because of the value that you provide. 

This approach sets the stage to increase what you charge for your steadily more polished product or service. 

Every expert was once a beginner, and it's steady progress that creates success.

Solve a Problem

The next lesson is one that you may have heard before, but one that is so important that I’d like to reiterate it again here.

The one thing that is going to get people to buy from you in your business is if you provide a great solution to one of their problems.

This is such a basic concept that it’s in pretty much every book or course on marketing.

But it’s there for a reason. And it took a long time for it to truly sink in for me.

Figure out exactly the problem that your target market has and truly solve it.  

  • Remove their discomfort
  • Help them to make more money or save money
  • Save them time
  • Help them avoid effort or sacrifice
  • Make them feel more loved or gain more status

This is why people will buy from you. 

Give it Away

Next up is a lesson that I’m actually following right this second.

Don't be afraid to give away valuable information.

Publicly share the secrets and knowledge that you’ve learned about your industry.

You’ll earn the trust of your potential customers, and even if you tell them exactly how to solve their problem, people will buy from you anyway.

Just because I know how to change the oil in my car, doesn’t mean that I’m going to do it myself every six months. It’s much easier to pop into the local Jiffy Lube and be done in 20 minutes.

You’ll also find that your now well-educated customers are much easier to work with. 

They have enough knowledge about your product or service to have realistic expectations. They can make informed decisions quickly, and will appreciate the true value of what you're offering.

Plus, you don’t need to re-create answers to all of your customers' most frequently asked questions if you’ve created a blog post or video; just send them a link to the relevant content. 

At Avalon Accounting, this has saved us countless hours when responding to our clients’ questions.

Provide the Most Value

Which brings me to my next point. And I think I first heard this anecdote from one of Alex Hormozi’s many pieces of content.

“The business that provides the most value for its customers wins.”  I fully agree with this.

This simple but powerful idea is all about focusing on what truly benefits your customer. You’re not just selling a product or service; you’re solving a problem, making life easier, or providing an outstanding experience. 

When a business consistently does this, it builds trust and loyalty, which are far more valuable than just a single transaction. 

The approach turns your customers into advocates, and drives your business towards long-term success.

The business that provides the most value for its customers wins. 

Focus on that goal and you'll be well on your way to success.

Perseverance - Your Entrepreneurial Superpower

And the last lesson I wish I knew before starting a business is that perseverance is your entrepreneurial superpower.

Continue learning and getting better.

Keep making the next right decision.

Don’t stop building and fine tuning your processes.

Keep giving away value.

Keep solving problems.

Get 1% better every week.

And don’t stop.

Doing the fundamentals well over a long period of time will make success inevitable.

Want more Small Business Advice?

Enjoyed the content of this blog post? 

Check out my new book called StartUp 101 - 87 Lessons I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Business.

This book is packed with insights I've gained from running Avalon Accounting and supporting hundreds of small business owners.

Every page offers straightforward lessons you can apply right away. No bullsh*t, no fluff, just the most valuable lessons I learned along the way.

If you’re looking for a dose of practical advice and inspiration to help you progress towards your goals, then this book is tailor-made for you!

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Article by
Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
Originally published
May 15, 2024
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