Today marks the one year anniversary of Chad and I moving our flower shop and officially becoming the new owners of the family business. It goes without saying that it flew by.
Here’s what I’ve learned in our first year as small business owners (although I could’ve used some of these lessons years ago, with or without the entrepreneurship):
1. You’re going to make mistakes — even big ones — and things won’t always turn out exactly the way you planned. That’s okay! I’ve learned the most valuable lessons through my mess-ups.
2. You can fix just about anything by accepting responsibility and offering up a sincere apology. Bonus points if that apology includes a speedy solution.
3. Be open to feedback, new ideas, and even criticism. No matter how much you want to believe the contrary, you don’t know everything.
4. Your employees are your best and most important asset. Take care of them, and they will take care of you.
5. You can’t be all things to all people. Sometimes you have to break up with a client, employee or vendor when you don’t jive. Do it respectfully. Pull the old, “it’s not you, it’s me,” move if you have to.
6. Never, ever burn a bridge. You may need to cross it again someday.
7. Make your business a drama-free zone. Don’t bad-mouth the competition or fan the local gossip fires with your customers or vendors. It breeds negativity within your company and damages your credibility.
8. It’s durn-near impossible to finish everything every day. Triage your to-do list, cut yourself some slack, and go home at a decent hour.
9. There is no end to the city/county/state/federal/insurance/accounting paperwork. Seriously, it’s overwhelming and will drive you to drink.
10. Make time to relax, unplug, and let your hair down. Your business will be so much better for it.
I have a theory that your first year as a business owner is similar to your first year of marriage; it’s exciting and new, but also awkward and challenging — and sometimes maddening! — with a great big dose of personal growth. This is not to say that I think it’s all smooth sailing from here, but I definitely feel better equipped to ride the wave.
Can’t wait to see what unfolds in year two!