14 Things We Wish We Knew Before Starting Our Own Business
Starting a new business is more than just deciding to go for it. It’s also hours, days, and weekends of hard work without rest.
On one hand, it’s endless trial and error; ups and downs. It can be oh, so lonely. On the other hand, it's freedom, purpose, fulfillment, and happiness.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement, we know exactly where you’re coming from because we’ve been there. We're still there.
Though each entrepreneurial journey is different, we’re all walking a similar path, chasing our dreams, and hoping to make a difference in our customers’ lives.
If you’re wondering what to expect when starting a business, let’s talk about the deep stuff. The stuff you won’t find googling late into the night as you struggle to get your business up and running. The stuff most top successful entrepreneurs don't talk about.
The Backstory: Finding the Courage to Start a Business
Three years ago, just as the world was starting to shut down, we decided to start a new branding business. Bold move, you’d think.
From the outside, I’m sure it looked like a risky move. On the inside, though, it felt like the right move.
For context, Zhill’s long-term employer of 7 years ghosted him literally overnight with no explanation and no payment, not even an email.
My own freelance projects came to an abrupt standstill. We were suddenly left with no income, and living in a big city with sky-high rent set a sense of sheer panic in us both.
We had to decide on our next steps fast. In the midst of all the chaos, fear, and uncertainty, we took a leap of faith. We put together our education, talents, skills, and experience, and thus, the Zhillmatic Brand Design Studio was born.
It was one of the scariest things we’ve ever done. It was also one of the most liberating things we’ve ever done.
As for finding the courage to start our own business? I don't think we had any other choice than to be brave in the face of fear.
We’re sharing 14 things we wish we knew before starting a business. Use them as your guideposts to support you on your journey to achieving your dreams.
Things We Wish We Knew Before Starting a Business
1. Fear will overwhelm you but you should still do things afraid
Fear and self-doubt will be your shadows when you’re first starting out, and even later on. The key is to make sure they stay in the shadow and that you keep going anyway.
Never make decisions based on fear. You'll gain a lot of clarity and personal power if you decide to march forward into the unknown.
2. Action comes before motivation
If you wait to feel motivated to start working on something, you’ll wait a long time. Taking action no matter your level of motivation is what will help you gain momentum so you can keep going.
3. Done is better than perfect
As a new business owner, you’ll want to do *everything* perfectly. From your website and branding to your blog posts and social media grid, you’ll want things to look put together and professional.
Though this is ideal, it’s not realistic, especially if you don’t have help. In the beginning stages, it’s better to get things done rather than to focus on perfection.
4. Giving up is not an option — success is
I can vividly remember all the times we wanted to just throw our hands in the air and give up. But we didn’t. We kept going and still are.
This self-employed life, this entrepreneurship thing, this “being my own boss” life, is not for everyone. And that’s okay.
It’s also okay to take a breather and reevaluate things. I know you feel like giving up when things get tough. But my guess is, you won't just throw away everything you’ve worked for.
There’s an ever-burning spark that keeps us entrepreneurs going. It is this very spark that lights a fire in your soul when it comes to the vision you have for your business.
5. You’ll want to do it all by yourself but it’s okay to ask for help
When starting a business, you’ll do everything from trying to create a logo and building a website to marketing your products, doing customer service, and being present on social media.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to do it all by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help so you can have more time to do what you’re the best at.
Need help with branding and logo design? Visit our brand shop to find the best semi-custom branding kit for your business.
6. Your mental & physical health is more important than your business
Yep, I said it. Nothing is more important than your own well-being, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Growing a business from scratch can take a toll on you. It’s a never-ending to-do list and if you’re not careful, you’ll get lost in the hustle.
This is why we believe in slow marketing. Success will come in its due time, pinky promise. And when it does, you need to feel good in your mind and body so you can take it all in.
Stop and sip the coffee, distractions-free, ya know?
7. Hard work and long hours do not guarantee success
Strategy does. That’s it. That’s the lesson. Have a solid strategy and organization system for your business from the very beginning.
8. Accept failure as an everyday thing and learn from it
Sometimes, failure is an actual physical event that you need to overcome. Most often, though, it’s a subjective standard you’ve set for yourself.
There’s no way to build a successful business without failure. This is great news because how else would you learn what works and what doesn’t? By doing, trying, testing, failing, getting up, and trying again.
A great example is Michael Jordan. It took him 7 years to win his first NBA championship.
He tried — and failed — to win the NBA Conference finals three times with the Chicago Bulls. He never gave up and that’s why he became one of the best basketball players of all time.
9. Your business is about the people you serve
It’s a harsh truth that may hurt your ego a little bit but your business is not about you. Our branding studio is not about us. It's about helping our customers get beautiful branding that makes them unique.
The businesses you buy from? They exist to solve your problems. So always think about what your customers want. Not what you think they want.
10. You need to set boundaries between your work and personal life
This one’s hard, even for us. We’re married and we work together so the lines can be blurry but we’re working on it. It’s important to know when your workday starts and when it ends, both physically and mentally.
Weekends are for rest and spending time with loved ones. You deserve a day off, a self-care day, and a vacation, too.
11. You’ll rediscover a whole new you
The roles you’ll have as a business owner will create a whole new you. You'll become someone who’s capable of growing something meaningful from an idea in your mind. Someone who can do extraordinary things.
Someone who’s resilient, strong, creative, innovative, and passionate. Maybe you were all those things before. But when you run a business, they take on an entirely new dimension. You’ll discover things about yourself you never knew existed.
12. Your path to success will not look like anyone else’s
I think the beauty of running your own business is that your journey will be so unique to you. Your story will be so different from anyone else’s and you, too, will learn your own lessons along the way.
Entrepreneurship would be so boring if everyone’s path to success looked the same.
Want to develop a mindset for success from the get-go? Download our free guide below!
13. Comparison is the thief of joy
The success or progress you see in someone else is a result of a lot of hard work and dedication. Don’t compare your starting point with someone else’s peak success.
The things you learn and do along the way are valuable and you need to go through them so you can carve your own path.
And speaking of joy...
14. The joy is in the journey
It’s not always easy to remember that life is, indeed, a journey. Life happens no matter how close or far you are from accomplishing your goal.
This is why you need to remind yourself to find joy in the journey. No matter how frustrating it gets. No matter how slow the progress is. No matter what life looks like now. There are always moments of joy, little victories, success, and most importantly, the fact that you’re building something you believe in.
We’re Rooting For You!
We’re rooting for you through all the overwhelm, hard moments, and failures, but also through all the small wins and big successes. You’re not alone and have a friend in us to give you useful business tips, guidance, and a helping hand.
If you’re launching your own business, our branding kits are a great starting point. In just 3 business days, you can have a full brand foundation for your business!
The best part is, while we customize your kit, you can spend your time promoting your products and making sales instead of scrambling together color palettes and fonts.
Visit the brand shop to find your branding kit and start building your brand today!
Want a branding kit that’s more customized to you and your brand? Contact us to ask about our custom branding packages.