4 Mistakes I Made When I Started My Own Business
GUEST POST BY JEN GLANTZ
I started my own business on my couch, while stuffing my face with pizza and licorice from Trader Joes, and being fed up with the current state of my life, at age 26. I was “always the bridesmaid” for all of my college friends, who were getting married one after another, while my own dating life was non-existent. Not only that, but I was fairly decent at being “always the bridesmaid”, so much so that friends I hadn’t even spoken to in a couple of years asked me to be their bridesmaid because they didn’t really have anyone else to ask and they knew I’d do a good job. That’s what led me to launch Bridesmaid for Hire one lonely Friday night, after two of those aforementioned friends asked me if I’d zip on a polyester dress and walk down the aisle for them.
I was a poetry major in college and at that time, I was working full-time for a tech start-up. I had no experience starting a business, let alone one where I’d be working weddings for stranger as their wildcard bridesmaid. But there I was, starting something from scratch, making a ton of mistakes along the way. Fast forward and here we are, two years later. I’ve worked with over 60 clients and have even hired other women to work weddings for me. I’ve created a bunch of new packages and have found myself hoping on and off planes to make it to weddings all over the country.
If I have learned anything, it’s the times we mess up in business that teach us the most valuable, and painful, lessons. So here are the main four mistakes I made when I started my own business in 2014.
1. Not Asking for Help
One of my biggest flaws is that I’m extremely stubborn and love doing everything that I can myself. When I first started out, I was too nervous to ask anyone for help. I also didn’t know who I could trust for help, so I tried to be my own accountant, my own lawyer, and used Google for business mentoring. It made my life way less productive and way more chaotic, as I was trying to do three people’s jobs all by myself. Plus, I mentioned I majored in poetry. I was not qualified to do any of these things myself.
2. Forgetting to Find Balance
It’s easy when you’re first starting out to work, work, work, work, work. I gave up a huge chunk of my social life to start my “side-hustle” and used every free weekend, after work hour, and early morning to launch my business. I ditched my social life to become a workaholic and the result was an unhealthy lifestyle that was making me too stressed and too weak to function at my highest potential.
3. Fearing Failure
What I noticed early on was that I was terrified to expand or even change parts of my business because I was scared of failure. There were new packages I wanted to launch and my biggest fear was that nobody would be interested in them and I would have made a mistake introducing them and thus, turning away potential clients. I learned quickly that keeping a business relevant and engaging means introducing new offerings and products, and part of that was testing the market and seeing what worked and what didn’t. Often times that meant introducing a new package and getting very little traction, only to make iterations and have it be a big hit.
4. Spending too Much Money
Since I started my business so quickly at first, I didn’t have time or even the know-how to create a budget. I found myself spending quite a large chunk of my savings account on start-up costs, like building a website, acquiring new clients and fees to set up my business as an LLC. Setting a budget early on would have allowed me to better allocate my cash flow.
Though it’s hard to determine what mistakes you’ll make, it’s always best to learn from others. When you’re starting up, know that mistakes, rejection, and failure will be your enemies. But if you remember from being a kid, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Jen Glantz is the world’s first professional bridesmaid and founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and the author of the new book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire). She’s the heartbeat behind the website The Things I Learned From, and the author of the Amazon-bestselling ebook, All My Friends are Engaged. She can be found in New York City wearing old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store, on first dates, or double-fisting slices of one-dollar pizza.