I made a lot of mistakes with my business: taking on debt, marketing inconsistently, undervaluing my services by setting prices too low, working IN my business all day every day (instead of working ON my business).
I also started out from a weak position: I didn’t have any money; in business, it’s called being “undercapitalized.” It’s a cliche’ because it’s true: it takes money to make money.
The biggest mistake I made was thinking I could overcome all of this if I was just creative enough about the services I offered. I focused on the experience I was curating for my customers (this is not a bad thing!), where my strengths were. But the experience only matters if there is someone to enjoy it.
Notice the language I am using: “customers”, “curating”, “experience”, “marketing”, “services”. You would never know my business was yoga.
Because it doesn’t matter what field I was in, it was still business.
With Capitalism, the rules are universal.
- Marketing is number one. Get the word out. (Even after 3 years in business, most people in our target market had never heard of us.)
- Minimize debt. If you need debt to cover regular expenses, you’re already out of business. (I started by using credit cards during the slow season, and when I couldn’t pay them off in full the interest buried me the next season.)
- Price your services fairly. That means, fair for the customer AND fair for you. (I wanted to be “affordable”, but my idea of affordability was partly based on the false premise that my customers had less money than they did, and partly that my customers would recognize the real value of what they were getting. I set the precedent that my services were not worth more.)
- Work ON your business, not just IN your business. This is the key takeaway from the book The E-Myth (Kindle), a book I wish I’d read the first year I was in business. It would have saved me some heartache and exhaustion. (I worked 7 days a week, all day, every day. I did everything myself, and most things not very well. I lost all perspective. I lost all sense of priority.)
I made these small business mistakes. You don’t need to.