What I’ve learned my first 5 years of being a business owner

Jun 12 2016

by Mandy Wooley Edwards

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Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart. Not everyone is cut out to do it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of all new businesses do not make it to the 5 year mark.

Why is the 5 year mark so important? June 11, 2016, ME Marketing Services celebrated her 5th birthday. We’ve made it five years and are still going very strong.

Five years of hard work. Five years of lessons learned. In fact, that’s what I want to do in this post – share with you what I have learned as a business owner in five years of owning a business. If you’re thinking of owning a business, hopefully this will help; if you already own one, maybe you can relate or share some of your wisdom as well.

Lesson A: Time management doesn’t exist.

There is no such thing as time management. All of these articles about how to better manage your time are total BS. There’s no one fix-all for this. Each person must work out what’s best for themselves. What works for me may not work for you. It’s more time prioritization than time management. Some days, my children’s activities come before work. Other days, it’s the other way around. You have to look at each day or week and figure out the best way to get what needs to get done, done. Hopefully without going mad.

Lesson B: Owning a business will require personal sacrifice.

This does require a collective “duh.” Yes, I’ve missed out on some of my daughters’ field trips. I’ve had to skimp on time with my husband. I’ve had my mom tell me to put the laptop up at her house. But owning a business requires you to sacrifice your personal time. Your business is your child – you have to treat it as such. When it needs attention, you give it attention. Now there are times you can put it off until the next day, but sometimes, even at 11:00pm, you will have to answer to it.

Lesson C: Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm does not exist.

As a business owner, you are always on-call. Even if you have people working for you, you are always one call or text or email away. This is especially true if you own a business like mine where social media just doesn’t turn off. You just have to learn how and when to unplug and then train yourself to know what can wait until tomorrow and what needs to be tended to now. I may stop work at 6pm but I’ll still get notifications on my iPhone. I see them. If anything needs immediate attention, I’ll handle it, if not, it can wait until the next day.

Lesson D: Those accounting classes you hated in college really do come in handy.

When you own your own business and until you get large enough to have to outsource various parts, you’ll be the bookkeeper/accountant, the marketing director, the HR manager, etc. I hated my college accounting classes. Numbers really weren’t my thing. Looking back, I’m glad I took them because at least I knew how to keep the books when I started my own business and run the reports I needed to run to do my taxes. Now, fortunately, I can turn that all over to my CPA.

Lesson E: For every bad day, there will be two good days.

Owning a business is the biggest thrill ride you will ever take. You’ll experience some of the biggest highs and some of the lowest lows. Your stress level will hit the roof. You’ll also be so giddy you’ll want to be like Oprah and give everyone a gift. What I have learned is that for every bad day I had, I could counter it with at least two or three good ones. Lose a client? Through God’s grace, it would be replaced with two or three new ones each time. How you handle the bad days and the stress will say a lot about you as a leader and about your character as well.

Lesson F: The personal relationships you make matter the most.

I’ve met A LOT of people over the past five years. The ones I was able to make on a personal level are the ones that have mattered the most and have been the most fruitful. Taking the time to get to know someone beyond a few Twitter interactions or some funny Facebook posts could turn out to be a profitable venture or a great friendship. I’ve made a lot of friends I still haven’t met in-person but hope to one day.

Lesson G: Word of mouth still matters and still works.

In five years of business, never once have I had to make a cold call or sales pitch for my business. I have been blessed through hard work, providing a great product/service and having a good work ethic to have businesses approach me to work with me. And about 90% has come through word-of-mouth. I am a STRONG believer in if you work hard, do what you say you are going to do, follow through, and provide a great experience for your customer/client, things will work themselves out. I am still amazed to this day at where this company is because of this.

Seven lessons is enough for now, so I’ll stop here. There are many lessons you learn day in and day out owning a business and to me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve learned so much from others and from doing. I’ve also made mistakes (we all do) and they have been a great teacher as well.

As a reader of this blog, thank you for being on this journey the past five years and I look forward to many, many more with you! I invite you to share what you’ve learned as a business owner below! Maybe it’s something we all can learn from as well!

3 COMMENTS

Mandy Wooley Edwards View More Blog Posts from this Author

Midwest Transplant. Wife. Mom to 2 redheaded daughters. Owner of ME Marketing Services, a social media marketing company. Proud University of Georgia alum and Bulldog football season ticket holder. Honored as one of UGA's 40 Under 40 Alumni for 2016. British Royal History Fanatic. Love all things Southern.

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3 responses on “What I’ve learned my first 5 years of being a business owner

  1. Julie

    This could not have come at a better time. I just opened my online children’s clothing boutique and it has been coupled with highs and lows. I love how refreshing this post was. Thank you and congratulations!

  2. Mary

    I have one more question for you?! This was fantastic. I’m celebrating my one year in business in a month and like have been blessed with word of mouth incredible business. Have you ever said that scary word no to a potential client, not because they aren’t great, but because with where you are whether it’s staff, time, etc. you know you won’t be giving them or all your clients the appropriate attention. I’d love to hear more on this! Thank you Mandy!

  3. Danielle Wecksler

    Congratulations! Couldn’t agree more! I think one of the hardest things I have found with owning a new business is that you have to throw yourself out there, and often go beyond your comfort zone (sometimes WAY beyond!). Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. But if you look at everything as an opportunity (not a pass/fail), as you said, when one door closes another will open!

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