12 Tips from Business Owners They Wish They Knew Starting Out

Starting a business is no small feat. Between the long hours, juggling work and life, balancing the books, satisfying customers, and finding ways to grow, there’s a lot going on.

We asked small business owners across the country their best advice for starting a business. What do potential new business owners need to know that seasoned pros wished they knew first starting out?

Here’s what they said:

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Love what you do.

  1. You have to LOVE what you will be doing because operating your own business is a never-ending, exhausting endeavor. But, if it is something you are passionate about, your love of it and your endless hours won’t even be noticed.

-Jan Boyer, 1964 in Texarkana, TX

  1. Make sure the business you are starting is something that you really truly want to do – you have to love what you are doing.

-Sharon Andre, Holy Hands Cleaning Service in Honolulu, HI

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Service matters.

  1. Always remember to treat your staff and customers like family.

-Jan Boyer, 1964 in Texarkana, TX

  1. Usually the second year is when you will see the benefits of all your hard work. Keep regular business hours and personally answer the phone and let people know that you care and are there to help them. Excellent personal service and being available will win the day in the long run.

-Elson Pettie, Romantic Myrtle Beach Weddings in Myrtle Beach, SC

  1. Document EVERYTHING. Nothing is trivial: customers appreciate you “remembering” their individual preferences, bookkeepers love details, employees will be amazed that you are aware of certain things. Be sure to have a current back-up of everything you have documented also. Stuff happens and something you may think is too minor to keep up with will likely be the very thing you will find yourself needing in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe.

-Christi DeLancy, Lakeshore Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. in Shreveport, LA

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Protect yourself financially.

  1. Make sure you have enough money to survive for at least 6 months before you quit your job and start your own business. If someone wants free services and promises you the moon, make sure they own the moon before you start giving away your valuable time and services.

-Paul Plotnick, Paul W. Pltonick Attorney at Law in Morton Grove, IL

  1. [Prepare] a written Market Analysis and profit and loss projections one year out.

-Patrick Fitzgerald, Lincoln Street Insurance LLC in Oxford, MA

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Do the research.

  1. Start first [by] researching the business you have in mind – the cost when you want to start off [as] a home base business first until you’re ready for the outside. Your business name is very important – choose one that’s going to really stand out. [Choose] a product that everyone can use, and be truthful to yourself. Pray and step out on faith.

-Debra Caine, Pinkpetals2Wigs in Birmingham, AL

  1. Talk to people willing to help. (They do exist!) I also recommend doing market research by asking open ended questions and tracking the answers so you can find the customers’ pains and gains. If over 75% of market share is taken up, you probably should stay away from the idea. It takes 5 years to see good results.

-Mike McMahon, Rave Luxury Transportation in Moline, IL

  1. Do your homework. Seek advice, suggestions, etc. from others in the field you are interested in. Networking is so important. And you can, and should, learn things from everyone – even those you would never expect to learn from.

-Jan Boyer, 1964 in Texarkana, TX

Be patient.

  1. Be consistent and be patient. When you start a new business, you need to advertise and of course have a great website, but do not expect the phone to ring off the hook right away.

-Elson Pettie, Romantic Myrtle Beach Weddings in Myrtle Beach, SC

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Set goals and have an execution plan.

  1. Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it. Learn from others who have accomplished what you want to. You don’t have to rewrite success.

-Tracey Hampson, Century 21 Troop Real Estate in Irvine, CA