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Advice to My Younger Self as an Aspiring Business Owner

FILED IN: Behind-the-Scenes, M&G Happenings, Unboxing the Business

Posted By: Jamie Kutchman

Last month, I was honored to attend and speak at The Female Empowerment Summit hosted by The Launch Project. The event was aimed to inspire and empower the next generation of young women who aspire to be leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners, and so much more! It was open to young women from middle school age up through college age and got me thinking – what would I tell my younger self when I was newly building my gifting business? After giving this some thought, I narrowed down some key ideas that I'm excited to share with you.  

small business owner advice
1. Expect problems to occur 

Things will go wrong through no fault of your own. Even with the best planning and preparation, problems still happen. While it can be frustrating and discouraging when problems occur, you must remember they're a natural part of the process. It's also important to face problems with a fresh mindset. Setbacks are things that help you grow both personally and professionally. You will develop resilience and additional skills so the next time a problem occurs, you'll be even that much more confident and efficient in solving it! 

2. Use your skills from your previous experiences in school and jobs; it all applies especially written communication skills 

Entrepreneurship has many layers involved. Sometimes, it is easy to focus on one aspect that you really enjoy – like product development, or social media influence. However, there are many other smaller skills that end up playing huge roles as you enter into business ownership.

Remember those persuasive writing courses from high school or that English 101 class you thought was not important? Well, they have turned out to be one of the most important aspects of being a business owner. Eventually, you may need to craft emails to lawyers, or speak with other business owners about financial propositions, or discuss complaints with high end clients. All of these conversations are built on good writing and communication skills that are developed with previous job experience as well as educational courses. So, don’t diminish the importance of skill set development, even if you think the skills won’t be used. I promise, they will be useful in some capacity. 

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help

It takes a village. It's a saying that's thrown around a lot, but it really is true. When you're first starting out, building a business can be daunting. (It can even be daunting ten years into it!) There are a ton of moving parts involved, a million decisions to make, non-stop problems to solve, and endless things to learn. That’s where networking and making connections come into play and you should work to make two different types of connections: those ahead of you and those with you.

There are so many people who have gone before you who have helpful advice on both what to do and what not to do. Reach out and ask questions when you are not sure about something, find a mentor to walk with you on the journey, and go to networking events to build professional relationships. All of these things will allow you to gain insight you would not ordinarily get if you attempt everything on your own. 

4. Know enough to be dangerous

Try and know at least a little about all parts of the business to "know enough to be dangerous" and the areas that aren't your strengths should be the first areas you hire for once it's time to hire your first employee. 

There are so many aspects to running a business – marketing, sales, finance, customer service, technology, legal, operations, human resources and more that will pop up as your business grows. It is very hard to be an expert in everything, but the key is to have at least a baseline level of knowledge across all areas so you have an idea of what's going on. If you don't, you run the risk of making bad hires for team members and even bad decisions on vendors who may not be as competent as you think they are.

Most importantly, having a baseline knowledge of "all the things" will allow you to hold off hiring you first employee a lot longer in order to save money as best you can. 

Seeing young and aspiring businesswomen is always inspiring. I think back to when I first started and see so much of my younger self in them. While these tips admittedly sound somewhat self-explanatory, putting them into practice can be "easier said than done" at times. If given the chance, I would absolutely share these with the version of me who was just starting out! 

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