This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.
I sometimes joke that I started a business by accident.
You see, back when I started freelancing in 2010, you only freelanced when you couldn’t find a job. Since I’d gone six months without one, I figured my best shot was to see if I could make some money writing.
This opened the door for me to start writing about finance. One of the websites I was writing for at the time had personal finance assignments up for grabs. Since I knew nothing about money, I figured it would be nice to get paid to learn about it – even if it was only a few dollars.
And learn I did.
The research for those assignments led to reading personal finance books. Then it led to starting a blog where I could hold myself accountable as I figured out my money and other life stuff.
There was a lot of basic education. Stuff like, “Don’t spend more than you earn” or “Always save money for emergencies” but there was one consistent message that struck a chord with me:
Always have your money coming from different places.
So even after I finally got a “real” job, I kept freelancing and blogging on the side. It would be another two and a half years before I had the AHA moment that changed my life and pushed me toward starting a business..
The moment that changed everything…
You see, I was a recruiter for a couple of years. That meant I was interviewing people for jobs all the time. It also meant I was interviewing people who got laid off all the time. I’d also hear all the struggles people face in a traditional work setting – no work-life balance, needing to put their kids in expensive daycare, not earning enough to make ends meet, new management coming in and firing people, etc.
After one particularly arduous day on the job, I decided I didn’t want to end up like the people I was interviewing day in and day out. I wanted more control over my earning potential, my finances and ultimately, my life.
I’d read enough personal finance books and blogs to know that the only real way to have all that I was craving – flexibility, unlimited earning potential, and fulfillment – was by starting a business.
After all, I was already making money on the side as a writer and coach. What would happen if I did it full time?
I wasn’t sure of the answer, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.
Four years later and I’m earning three times as much as I did at my last job and I have more flexibility than ever. In fact, I’m writing this post while visiting Dallas for a conference. I played all morning and now I get to work from my hotel room for a bit.
However, it took a while to get here. It also hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. The reality is I wish there were some things someone would have told me before I made the leap from office dweller to entrepreneur.
3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Business
Cash Flow Is King
I’ve been very open about the fact that cash flow has been a hard concept for me to grasp. While I always made a profit each year, sometimes it really wasn’t a whole lot.
That’s because I started my business backwards. You’re supposed to start with the end in mind – meaning the product or service you’re going to sell. I didn’t do that.
I had all this influence but didn’t yet understand systems or how to create sales funnels. I also didn’t really know how to run a business budget.
A guide or checklist like this one from SunTrust has would have come in real handy back then. The good news is now you can use them as a resource for your business. I can still use them too since sometimes us business owners need tune-ups.
Focus on Growing Profits, Not Just Surviving
Since cash flow was an issue for me, you can bet that profitability was too.
I didn’t really have a well thought out financial plan when I started my business. For a long time, my only real plan was “Make enough money to survive” and that was it. Even worse, for a couple of years I only saw my business as “extra money” so I didn’t take it as seriously.
In fact, it wasn’t until this year when I started taking profitability way more seriously. I created a new marketing and sales strategy, started focusing on the actions that yielded the biggest results and became ruthless about guarding my time.
It took me years to learn that all of these things were necessary in order to earn money. It’s no wonder, then, that I’m on track to have a six-figure business by the end of next year.
Had I found a resource like SunTrust’s profitability guide sooner, it may not have taken so much trial and error for me to get it together. Their guide explains exactly what you need to know to consistently increase profitability as you build your business.
You Need to Protect Your Assets
I was making money for years before I incorporated my business. I didn’t even know what incorporating a business meant. I also once had to scramble to get a trademark and it wasn’t until recently when I even started thinking about insurance.
To be honest, all of this is a relatively new world to me – especially the insurance piece. In fact, I’m pretty certain I got bamboozled and overpaid for some business insurance coverage last year.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed, so I paid for what was sold to me. Thanks to SunTrust and their business insurance guide, I can now make a more informed decision about which insurance options make the most sense for my business.
Starting a business is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I have more flexibility and earning potential than ever before. Unfortunately, I didn’t get here without making some major mistakes along the way.
You can avoid a lot of the mistakes I made by checking out SunTrust’s Small Business Best Practices Guides. They cover every area of business you need to know about so you can get started on the right foot.
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