This Is What I’d Do Differently If I Were Starting My Business Today

This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012, started out the same as any other day.

I woke up. Got dressed. Commuted to the office. Worked my 8.5-hour shift. Commuted home. Did the mom thing. And… I started a small business.

It wasn’t really something I was planning to do. But the date felt special. 12-12-12 felt like it meant something. It felt like the exact right time to jump on my idea the moment it hit me.

So, I searched the internet to make sure that my business name wasn’t already out there, and then I registered my LLC with the state of Virginia. I finished my MBA the previous year so I pretty much knew the steps I had to take. I registered with the County, applied for an EIN, and put up a website.

Clue Consulting, LLC was born.

But the truth is, when I started my business, I didn’t have all the pieces in place the way I would’ve wanted. It takes more than a business bank account and a dream to start a business the right way.

That’s what makes a resource like the SunTrust Small Business Best Practices Guide so valuable. Using the “Starting Your Small Business” checklist, I’m able to reevaluate my plans and make sure that my business stays on track.

Here are two things I’d do differently if I were starting my business today:

1) I’d figure out what type of business I *want* to start.

When I started my business nearly five years ago, it began as an Administrative Consultancy. I’ve been in my field for over 19 years, have an MBA and a Masters in Project Management, and I work alongside executives each day. When my entrepreneurial friends began asking me for advice on managing the backend of their businesses (because they didn’t have a ‘clue’ how to do all that admin stuff), starting an administrative consultancy seemed like the most natural fit.

However, I quickly realized that I had a passion for writing. This led me to start the first iteration of my blog on April 15, 2013, and I went on to become a certified content marketer. Through sharing my advice, experiences, and musings, I stumbled into thought leadership and being an influencer. This winding path led me to now offering life coaching services.

When I reflect on my business’s journey, I realize that I never really brainstormed or did a pros/cons list or gave much thought at all to the type of business I wanted to start. I kind of went to the default. Because of this, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on branding, marketing, and related expenses—only to change direction several times over.

2) I’d focus more efforts on controlling cash flow and increasing profitability.

In the beginning, I viewed my business as a side hustle/passion project. Sure, I wanted it to make money and be profitable. But I didn’t put enough emphasis on controlling cash flow and increasing profitability early on. Money was going out just as quickly as it was coming in. I hit an income plateau and realized that I had to adjust how I was managing the finances in my business.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned how important it is to have a strong financial foundation in place. I knew this (after all that business schooling, I surely should have known). But being in the everyday trenches with my business, and everything moving so fast, I wasn’t using the right financial practices.

The straightforward checklists in the SunTrust Small Business Best Practices Guide are helpful in planning and managing all aspects of my business. Whether I need to focus on planning, cash flow, profitability, growth, asset protection, or transition I can find what I need within the Guide. Using the checklists, I could pinpoint the activities I should focus on to understand the patterns of money going in and out so I can create consistency, better practices for business cash flow, and improve processes so I can set myself up for success.

Following solid business practices is important for any small business owner. Particularly when you are a team of ONE. It’s less stressful when you have resources, tools, and services that can help inform your decisions and prepare you for future growth.

Comments 22

  1. These tips are motivating. Whenever we want to start a whole new business, it becomes necessary to check out the possible market. Things may not happen as we hope them to be, but staying consistent in efforts will surely pay off in the future.

  2. I’d love to start my own business, I need to build my start up funds first though. As a single mom of three, I don’t have time to even make dinner after my 9 hr shift, gone from 7a – 6p. It’s rough, but I make it work. This is all great ideas and points I will keep in mind.

  3. This is good information. I haven’t been thinking of starting a biz, I would want to check this guide and keep these concepts in mind.

  4. Practicing smart financial responsibility is so important for business owners. I went to school for Finance and over the years I have seen and heard about so many businesses going under due to lack of financial organization, responsibility, etc. These are really great tips for start-ups today.

  5. There’s definitely something special about having the freedom to do your own thing, especially when it results in financial freedom. It’s always great to start with a plan. A vision, a plan and then execution. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s really motivating and uplifting. We all have a different journey and it’s good to know that we’re not alone!

  6. This is super healthful. I’m thinking of starting my own business and there’s so many things to do to get prepared. Definitely will be saving this advice for after my business plan is complete

  7. I started my own side business a few years ago and I have to say that I was surprised at how easy it was! All the complicated stuff happened after the business was up and running…like the taxes, legalities, etc.

  8. I think about this all the time. I started my blog in 2009, never in a million years did I think I would eventually quit my full time job to manage my blog. Crazy! Things change and man I would do things so much differently now.

  9. Thanks for the tips! My two passions (obsessions) have always been coupon shopping and entering those drop box store giveaways. Almost a year ago I decided to take the leap and start designing a blog dedicated to discount shopping, price mistakes, double discounts, etc.. I advertise with Amazon and a few others, but have yet to make a single dime. It’s only been functional a month or so, so Im going to give it a full year and see how I do. Anyway, thanks for the article!

  10. Having your own business is a great way to be financially independent. That said, it also takes a lot of self control and commitment. Your tip were right on point with the cash flow.

  11. I appreciate your transparency in sharing what you’d do differently in starting a business. I feel like I am stuck right now. I am doing one thing but not feeling like it is my passion.

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