Starting Your Own Business... My Best Advice and Lessons Learned

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lately, I've had emails and messages from a number of women out there wanting to embark on starting their own business, and inquiring about tips and tricks or advice I could offer to help them get started on their journey to being an entrepreneur. I have to admit, I was flattered, but honestly I'm only 1.5 years into this adventure so I still have a LOT to learn... With that being said, here is some of my lessons learned, helpful resources, and my perspective on starting and running your own business.

First Things First, Do Your Research. 
Don't skimp on this... REALLY dive in deep to learn about the business you're looking into starting. That means interviewing people who have been there and done it, reading books to learn anything and everything you can about the industry you're trying to enter, and making sure you craft a comprehensive business plan... it really is THAT important! 
Favorites from my perspective that helped include: 
  • Books to Read: Retail 101, How to Start a Home-Based Online Retail Business, Entre Leadership, and Lean In
  • Subscribe to industry periodicals/sources/etc
  • Join a small business discussion group // conference // webinar for entrepreneurs (tons of options via Facebook, Blogs, Internet)
  • Be sure to file applicable business trademarks/copyrights, domain names, business licenses, EIN numbers, Tax IDs, etc (the not-so-glamorous, but totally necessary stuff)
Define Your Business Goals / Strategy / Game Plan. 
If you think you can have a successful business without a Business Plan, you're mistaken..I've been told over and over again that this is the make it or break it component of business. You need a solid plan that discusses investments // money, cost of operations (shipping, website hosting, supplies,etc), as well as your "why" for starting said business. You need a clear statement defining your messaging, vision + mission, talking points, etc. 
In addition, you want to define your overarching goals (short and long-term), your hopes and aspirations for said business, an overall budget, timeline for launch, and be sure to paint a picture of what success looks like... This is different for everyone so define what YOU want to get out of owning your own business. 

Check Out Your Competition. Let's face it... there are most likely others out there doing something similar, so it's smart to check them out. See what they're doing right, look for places that you think you can offer something different to go the extra mile, etc. A big thing for me was wanting to stand out and not look like other retailers... you want people to remember you for "something" so be sure to put time into making your business unique. Think about the places you shop and or conduct business and make a list of things you like. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but please don't copy... it's so unoriginal and you wouldn't want someone stealing all your ideas and using them as their own, right?? 

Invest in Your Brand Identity. You want a professional look for your brand since it's the first thing people see...this is when you may not necessarily want to go with the least expensive option when it comes to branding, imagery, marketing, graphic design, website creation, business cards, etc. My best advice is to close your eyes and think about what your logo should look like, what colors speak to you, how you want people to view your business, etc. It's not a one day exercise... we worked with our creative team for more than 4 months on the ins and outs of the Sugar Bit logo, website, collateral, tagline, background, etc. Start a document with the specifics you want to include (or things you don't particularly like) and be sure to visit other resources for help... Pinterest helped SO much when I went to look at layouts, colorways, font options, logo design, etc. Remember, cohesiveness is SO important here!! Another way to gather invaluable opinions and advice is to seek input from your peers, family, and friends... send out a survey, ask for constructive criticism, and don't be afraid to solicit help! 
The Power of Social Media. 
Growth doesn't come easy and I am here to attest that I have seen my share of ups and downs when it comes to what works in social media. You think you have some brilliant idea and then no one likes // comments and you wonder why... yes, I am speaking from experience! Remember the power of social media and use it to your advantage... post sneak peaks, host giveaways, ask for client input! It's basically free advertising so make the most of it and let it help and guide you.

Find a Work-Life Balance. 
Honestly, this is the hard part for me... I struggle with this one and I'm not hesitant to admit it. Sometimes I find myself working way too many hours, like after the girls go down at night and that's when I should be spending time unwinding, reading, and hanging with my hubby on the couch. The hard part of owning your own business is that you can forget a normal 8-5 workday, but you can set boundaries in place for making the most out of your schedule. The flexibility is great, but I'm a one man shop, so if I'm not doing it, it doesn't get done... I need to learn how to "turn it off" at night, on the weekends, etc.

Hoping this post helps some of you out there... at the end of the day, pray about it, make a list of pros and cons, and do what YOU feel in your heart to be right. Being a business owner is so much harder than my former life in the corporate world, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Any other questions you have? Leave comments below and I will be happy to answer them! 


  1. This is great advice!! Thank you for sharing :) Congratulations on your business - such a wonderful accomplishment!

  2. The only thing I have to say is.... I'M PROUD OF YOU DEAR and Go Sugar Bit! XO!

  3. Great post with so many good ideas and tips! When I bought my business in 2012 I seriously had NO idea what I was getting myself into. I feel like I'm constantly trying to evolve how I do things and be more efficient, etc. And yes about the one woman show! I always laugh when I get emails asking for our IT or billing department, because yes, that's me and only me!

  4. Such great advice! I can't imagine how scary (and exciting and liberating) it would be to start my own business. Maybe someday... Love this post. I'm so proud of you and your amazing little company!

  5. Love this...thank you for taking the time to share!

  6. Absolutely love this! Thank you for these great tips!