I’ve been in business on my own as a corporation for 7 years now, and was a sole proprietor/freelance type for 2 years before that. With all the successes there have also been a few failures. Here’s some mistakes I’ve made. Here’s hoping they are helpful to someone out there!
- Not keeping up with my accounting: This is a killer problem because it is one that balloons. The longer you put it off, the worse it gets, and the less you want to do it. I’ve been trying lately to do all of it weekly – generate invoices every Friday, write cheques every Friday, and sort/file receipts every Friday. I’m still not doing it weekly, but I am getting better at keeping up with my invoicing. This is still my biggest complaint about where I am with business today.
- Not getting company credit soon enough: In 2005 I decided that it was time that the company got some credit. It was much easier than I anticipated – I managed to convert a personal line of credit into business overdraft protection and get a reasonable credit card in the company name. I can’t tell you how much of a difference the overdraft protection has made. Having that cushion for when I need it is ubelievably liberating. I highly recommend it.
- Letterhead and envelopes: In retrospect, simply didn’t need them. Out of 500 letterhead and envelopes, I think I have used 10 since I got them 5 years ago. It really was wasted money, but I guess you don’t know or believe it until you’ve lived it. I can’t remember the last time I actually sent a letter to someone. (Though I may still use it up for some upcoming ideas – see #5 below)
- Not sticking to my core business: For the last 5 years I’ve been hosting web sites. I started with reseller programs, and then moved my way up to a dedicated server. Initially I did it for two reasons: my development/design clients needed hosting, and it meant that I got my hosting paid for by them. It was win/win, right? Well – sort of. I realize now that I have spent way too much time on hosting/server administration instead of focusing on the other things I wanted to do. The allure of a profit margin when looking simply at dollars was tempting and I’m sure it is for many out there as well. But now when I consider all the other things I could have been doing, I’m kicking myself.
- Not being aggressive enough: This is something that I’m still not happy with, and I am working to change. I’m reasonably well known outside Canada, less well known within Canada, and hardly known at all within Ottawa (at least, that is my perception). I’m seeing that it is changing and hopefully that will lead to good things.
Have any mistakes of your own to share? I’d love to hear them! Let me know I’m not alone… :)