Article in brief: 5 more lessons the author learnt within the first two months of starting a business. A continuation of January’s article.
In the last article, I discussed five things I learnt within the first few months of starting my business. I spoke about how it becomes your life, how important it is to do provide something different to the society and market, how as a small business owner you tend to assume many jobs related to your business and finally how to focus on the long-term. In this article, I share some more of what I learnt whilst on the job of owning and running a business.
- Your life will temporarily have two key markers: pre-business and post-business.
You’ll look back to the days before you started your business and marvel at how empty your life seemed and there will be times when you will desperately wish you could go back in time to college or your regular job where things seemed so uncomplicated.
- Your biggest and most important investment is your staff.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Staff can make or break a place. They can turn passersby into customers and customers into regulars. The sustainability of the business depends on them and their attitude. It is not worth it to hire somebody who does not match all of your most important criteria in hopes that they will learn and change. Time is money and you cannot afford to start off on a slow and lacking foot. Invest in staff that are friendly, committed, honest, and loyal and you will reap the benefits.
- You will not be able to do everything yourself.
I made this mistake. When I first started my business, a boutique and café-in-one, I not only did all the baking, marketing, client-building, day-to-day-managing and supply-ordering myself, but also researched, ordered, computerized, and displayed products from vendors and designers for the boutique. Essentially, I did everything. For the first six weeks that was fine. It wasn’t such a big concern that I had absolutely no free time and that my friends were complaining about my antisocial-ness, but at one point I couldn’t do it anymore. The stress and multitasking was too much for any one person to handle. Which leads me to the next point…
- Don’t be afraid to get help.
With me, it wasn’t a case of embarrassment of asking for help. It was the concern that I wouldn’t find someone competent enough to get things done the way I want them done. I already had too much on my plate to waste time training somebody who wouldn’t be able to follow through. That’s where your selfless, amazing friends and family come in. They will be most likely more than happy to take up some responsibilities.
- Do not get overwhelmed.
This is probably the most important point. You most likely started this business because you believed in the product you had to offer and were passionate about it. There will be times when a really bad day or the sheer magnitude of hurdles to overcome will drain you, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Keep going but remember how important it is to make to-do lists for yourself. Make sub-tasks with deadlines for each task. Prioritize them. And never forget that you owe yourself some time off. It might seem impossible at the moment but in the long-run, sitting by the beach for an hour or getting a manicure to indulge yourself will not negatively impact your business.
Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.