3 Mistakes I Made When Starting My Own Business & How To Avoid Them

Hi All!

By reading this article, I’m hoping to help you avoid the same mistakes I made when starting my small furniture painting and decor business. I’d just retired from teaching and was looking forward to a new creative focus for my future.

It seemed like a fairly intuitive idea. “I’ll start my own business painting and refinishing furniture!” I followed my small business start-up checklist. I’d decided on my business idea and legal structure months earlier after attending a small business start-up seminar. After days of experimenting with different options I decided on my business name and bought a special logo from Etsy. All licenses and permits were applied for, and a quick check on local zoning regulations showed that I could run my business from my workshop at home. Yay! I was on my way!

I’d collected a selection of well-loved used furniture, purchased paint, brushes and sander, along with numerous other supplies, and then got to work. Everything was going fairly well for a while but as the months passed I began to realize that I’d need to make some changes if my business was to have a chance for success.

With this in mind, I’d like to share 3 of the biggest mistakes I found myself making, in an effort to help you avoid those same mistakes.

Mistake #1: I decided to create my own website on WordPress. How difficult could it be? People do it all the time, right? Whoa! Nobody warned me of the amount of effort involved in building a business website from scratch. After weeks of taking and choosing the best photos of my work, learning how to set margins that looked good on desktops, tablets, and phones, & figuring out captions, colors, font and page styles, I still needed to learn the importance of SEO, content optimization, analytics and metrics! This became a huge time commitment and continues to be a work in progress even now.

A Better Way: Unless you are super tech/website savvy, look around at the many options to create a website with more drag and drop features. If you choose to go the WordPress route, be sure to read every bit of information they publish for beginners BEFORE starting in order to get a basic understanding of the whole process. There’s also the option of paying for an experienced website designer if your budget allows.  There are numerous questions you should ask if you’re considering hiring a web design company.  As for me, I’ve decided to stick with the ongoing process of creating my small business website from scratch.  Having full creative license over my website has outweighed the negatives.

Mistake #2: Not having a social media presence. I’m positive it’s a generational thing, but I actually had not built an online presence for my business. It’s currently in the budding stages and is something I’ve not addressed fully until now. Posting, selling, and communicating online is pretty much a necessity if your small business is to flourish.

A Better Way: Get those Facebook, Instagram, & Pinterest accounts up and running PRIOR to starting your small business. It doesn’t cost anything to create a FaceBook page for your business, or start posting on Instagram or Pinterest. Be sure to create a social media plan upfront. Check this guide for creating a social medial marketing plan. Another option to think about is to Create a YouTube video to demonstrate your craft to others.

Mistake #3: Perfectionism. When I started painting furniture, I’d spend hours ‘perfecting’ each piece, sometimes re-painting, re-sanding, and re-finishing each piece several times. Talk about hours of wasting energy and time! Especially when it looked just as good the 3rd time around as it did the 1st! Looking back, it was a learning experience that taught me that my time could be better spent on other business activities.

A Better Way: In the words of Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, “Many people think of perfectionism as striving to be your best, but it is not about self-improvement; it’s about earning approval and acceptance.” I agree with Ms. Brown. I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to earn the approval and acceptance of others and recently I’ve decided that it just isn’t worth all that effort. Having the courage to start a small business, putting myself out there and learning new things every day is something to feel good about and I’ve begun to realize that the approval of others isn’t really a necessity. I suggest reading more from Brene Brown, or any of the great books focused on perfectionism if you have your own perfectionistic tendencies to work through.

In short, starting a small business has been and continues to be an all-engaging and eye-opening experience. There’s been plenty of bumps along the way, but I’m focusing on the future and learning from the past. For now, I’m wishing you the best of luck in your small business endeavor!

How to Start a Business in Illinois (or Your State) https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/start-own-business-illinois-seven-steps-need-take.html

How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 12 Simple Tips https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/

How to Make a YouTube Video (A Beginner’s Guide) https://www.techsmith.com/blog/make-youtube-video/

Best Books That Will Help You Overcome Perfectionism https://nerdycreator.com/bookclub/best-books-on-overcoming-perfectionism/