When I first opened Bona Fide in my sleepy little mountain town of Golden, BC, I was regularly approached by people and their concerns. Fellow business owners and entrepreneurs were the first to fill me in on their personal experiences about when they started their own businesses. And the best piece of advice I can give anyone going into business for themselves is to take everything they say with a grain of salt…because things aren’t always black and white.
I opened Bona Fide in June of 2019…so like my first piece of advice, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt because I’m definitely still learning. Luckily, I haven’t had a lot of the same struggles as other people have had. Even though some of this advice has helped me in my first year of business, a lot of it really held me back too. Here are 5 things I wish someone would have told me before I dove into the wild ride of “entrepreneurial life”…
1. Get a supportive team behind you, and treat them well!
There’s always those people that you have in your life that you can’t live without…and hopefully they feel the same way about you. Although you’ll be the face of your business, it’s impossible to do it alone! Your closest friends and family will be the ones holding you up and keeping you going when things get tough. There was nights when I was renovating the space for my boutique called Bona Fide, and my people would finally pack up their stuff to leave at as late as midnight. Although your “ride or die” people probably didn’t have to be asked for help, it’s still important that you do something for them in return…It’s really easy to get caught up in the chaos of planning your business, but take a day to properly thank them-you couldn’t have done this without them.
2. Manage your time and your energy wisely, and take time to relax!
It’s really exciting starting a business. All you can think about when you’re preparing your space is how amazing it’s going to feel when the first customer walks through your door to see what you’ve created. All this excitement (and chaos), is a really easy way to get burnt out quickly-and rush into something you aren’t prepared for. Make a goal for your opening day to help yourself push through-but understand that life happens and it will be better in the long run if you take your time making everything perfect before you open the doors. Once the customers and shopping addicts (or whatever your clientele is…) start rolling in, it’s really hard to take time away from that to change what you could have done before you opened the doors-whether it’s your POS system, new flooring, different shelving or proper lighting. Once your business is open, people don’t appreciate it closing for more renovations. So do it right the first time around!!
3. The first month is the easy part.
The first month of business, I was convinced I was going to get rich…FAST. I moved more stock in the first week than I did in some entire months! My store felt really empty right after I first started. So if you’re opening a retail space, make sure you have some back-up stock to put out after your initial rush! You’ll thank yourself.
4. “No one’s coming…”
As many times as I’ve said you need a team of people to make your business happen, at the end of the day as Nathan from working mom’s said…”No one’s coming…”. If your ship sinks, it’s on you. When there’s a tough call to make, it’s yours. When you have exciting plans to go away for the weekend but there’s stuff to be done at the business-it’s 100% your responsibility. At time’s, I’ve felt lonely and afraid, but TRUST your gut with every decision you make. Don’t overthink things, don’t stress out too hard, just make your mistakes and move on with your lessons!
5. Have some fun with it!!
You’ve made the scary leap to go out on your own. For me, that was my number 1 reason for starting Bona Fide. It was so that I could be my own boss and to create something amazing on MY TERMS. (I’m a bit of a control freak…) Don’t forget to have fun with it too. It’s really super easy to get caught up in the stress of it all, but that will take away from it. Know that it’s going to suck at times but try to remember to sit back and enjoy the ride, as well as knowing the tough times are only temporary!