7 things I wish I knew when I started my own business.

October 16, 2022


Jan Vasil

Starting your own business can be a thrilling, challenging, and rewarding experience. However, starting any business is also extremely challenging. It takes courage to leave a stable job and strike out on your own.

In fact, many people who desire to start their own business end up working for someone else rather than striking out on their own due to the inherent challenges of launching your own company.

Also, when I started out I had a feeling that I know nothing and my former experience is not enough.

And what are the things I wish I knew when I started?

Guess the list could count hundreds or even thousands of things I had to learn during those years. For example technical knowledge in web development, product development, and strategy, digital marketing, SEO, and photography, up to working with freelancers and corporations.

When I think about it now there were only a few things that could really help me out at the beginning.

And what are those?

  1. Start small, grow later.
  2. Money will come.
  3. Keep on going.
  4. Remember to network.
  5. Quit at the right moment.
  6. Test everything.
  7. Bonus tip: You do not need a business card.

Start small, grow later.

When I started I thought the most important thing is to grow my business as soon as I can. During my experience as editor-in-chief of my online magazine Ediblorial that was my initial plan. Instead of starting small and building a solid readership, I was already thinking about how to monetize it. How to make people pay for reading my articles or place ads on the website?

On the other hand, when I co-founded my digital agency The Digital Pug I understood that growth shouldn’t be the number one goal. Instead of building a corporation that employs dozens of people and offers several services I started out small.

In the first months, I offered only a few services and added new ones only later when I felt comfortable doing them or hired a freelancer that could help me out.

So for everyone who is at the beginning of the entrepreneur career or is just planning to start their own business I recommend starting small. Start with whatever you have today and grow later.

own business

Money will come.

I guess everyone who runs their own company would like to make money from day one. The truth is, almost no company earned solid money at the beginning. And the majority of the bigger ones started to be profitable only after years.

I remember the first days when I opened my coaching business and the only thing I was worried about was money. Instead of thinking about how good I am at coaching and how can I help my clients I was only wondering how much I should charge them.

To be very honest those were very stressful days and I would not like to feel like that again.

If I could go back in time I would probably say to myself that I should not worry so much about making money. If you do something for a longer time and you are really good at it, the money will come.

Stay focused on the things that matter the most.

Keep on going.

In my older blog post, I talked about mistakes many entrepreneurs make. One of those mistakes is to stop quickly.

When I started out with my food blog Taste Is Yours I literally knew nothing about cooking, blogging, or food photography. I just wanted to explore my passion for good food and share my experience with people around me.

The first few months were really bad regards traffic and the only visitors to my website were members of my family and former colleagues.

I could quit easily and say no problem, nothing happened.

And you know what? I kept going!

If I would quit at that moment I would never make a recipe that was visited by 20 thousand people within one week or made a photo that had 1,2 million impressions on Pinterest within 1 month. Also, Taste Is Yours would never become a starting point for my food and product photography career and the Artisan Studio. Thanks to it I started collaborations with a few companies that were selling kitchen appliances or selling food. At one moment I had like 30 pans and pots at home that I distributed to my whole family 🙂 Last but not least, Taste Is Yours belongs today to one of my best streams and delivers a stable passive income.

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Remember to network.

Oh boy, this is one of the hardest to talk about.

When I quit my corporate life I thought that the best will be to burn every bridge and never look back. I stopped talking to people around and went to look for new ones.

Good on one side but very stupid on the other.

I do not even want to know how many collaborations or projects I lost thanks to this decision.

Today I know that the power lies within your network and the key is to leverage it. As an entrepreneur, you should talk to everyone you know first. Do you have a new product? Talk to your current customers and ask for feedback. You offer a new B2B service, head to Linkedin, and inform all your business partners.

It is important to maintain contact with people who can help you succeed. This means maintaining your relationships with former co-workers and also keeping in touch with your network of friends and family members.

When you were working a full-time job, you may not have had as much time to spend with your friends and family members. However, once you start your own business, you need to make time for them. Although you don’t want to spend all your time networking, it is important to maintain your former job contacts, as well as the relationships you have with friends and family members. Most people are happy to help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

Quit at the right moment.

I’ve spoken about keeping going just a few lines back. So why am I talking now about quitting?

When you become an entrepreneur you have to move forward no matter what. Sometimes you will have days when things will not go your way and you will start to doubt yourself. Those are the moments when you have to keep going.

On the other side, as an entrepreneur, you have an agenda or a plan in your head. You have things on your to-do list that you really like to do, products that you really like and which make you happy, and services that are very important.

But you know what? Those things can actually slow you down from progressing.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine you offer products that are not selling and when you ask your customers for feedback it is weak and they do not want to buy it. The issue is that you developed that product from scratch and you really like it. So you ignore the feedback and keep producing it no matter what.

And that’s precisely the moment you should quit.

What’s the point of having a non-sellable product? To invest money in marketing just to find out a few months later that you sold zero pieces? Just to massage your ego?

It is better to quit at the right moment and to invest your time, energy, and money into something that makes sense.

Do you think I liked the idea of not working anymore on my online magazine or closing my coaching business? Nope. Do you think I liked when I lost money investing in ads trying to promote a service that no one wanted? Nope.

So what’s next? Review your product or service line, analyze what works and what doesn’t, and simply quit the things that do not work anymore.

Test everything.

You know the saying “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late” by Reid Hoffman?

This is actually one of the most important things on my list. During the past few years, I have created many products or services and I wanted them to be perfect. I invested a hell of a time in brainstorming and mind-mapping sessions just to find out later that the service is shit and I have to redesign it. It started with Ediblorial, then continued during the development of The Digital Pug agency. With both projects, I wanted to launch only the “perfect” product, article, or service.

If I knew that time what I know today, I would definitely launch sooner. Even a crappy product that is constantly tested and improved can become a bestseller. And a service that looks foolish at the beginning can become a money-making machine at the end.

So if you have something on your list that already took a long to develop, don’t wait any longer. Just launch it and see how it goes, collect feedback and improve. Test everything.

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late

Reid Hoffman

Bonus tip: You do not need a business card.

When I started my coaching career I did everything around it. I designed and built the website, created all the social media accounts, and designed the whole branding. And speaking about branding I have also designed my first business cards.

Besides the good feeling and a huge smile on my face from seeing my name next to my very first own business name, the business cards gave me – yes, you guessed it right – nothing!

Instead of focusing on the quality of my services or self-development, I focused on my ego. I believed that a business card is a must and it is seen as a statement by my clients.

Guess I took this habit out of my corporate life, where the exchange of a business card at a meeting was highly perceived. And if you haven’t had your card with you you were a loser.

The truth is, in real life no one cares about your business card. Only you do. For people, it is just a piece of paper or plastic that they lose 5 minutes after you will give it to them.

Yes, it is important to give people some contact information but to be very honest, it can be written on a piece of paper or just send as a text message.

Knowing this would save me time, and money I invested in the business card creation.

So what’s next?

As you see, as a new entrepreneur you can do many mistakes as a newbie or you can focus on the wrong things.

On the other hand, sometimes it is better to learn from the experience of others so you do not lose time or money.

Is there something else you would add to the list?

Written by Jan Vasil

As a CMO at a digital agency The Digital Pug, I'm passionate about SEO and blogging, and I'm always striving to stay ahead of the latest trends in digital marketing. In my spare time, I like to play golf, listen to music, and hang out with my black pug. I take great pride in providing my clients with top-notch marketing strategies to help them achieve their goals.