Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship brings numerous growth opportunities, and while first-time small business owners may encounter challenges, these are valuable learning experiences that contribute to your overall success.
My husband Courtney and I are co-owners of Floor Coverings International in the South Sound area, the No. 1 Mobile Flooring franchise in North America. After opening our business in the beginning of 2023, we quickly rose in the ranks and are now in the top third of the franchise network in terms of gross sales performance.
Our path to success from years in corporate America to entrepreneurship certainly included some uncomfortable challenges and hurdles, but most importantly provided key lessons. By leaning into a core set of best practices, we were able to push through the uncomfortable realities of first-time business ownership and learn to turn them into fuel for our business’ ongoing success.
Below are four uncomfortable truths that all new business owners encounter and tips for how to leverage them to strengthen your business:
You Need to Spend Money to Make Money
Sound financial management is the backbone of any successful business venture, yet many first-time entrepreneurs tend to underestimate its importance. Learning the nuances of budgeting, tracking expenses, managing the cash flow, and making informed financial decisions is not just advisable—it’s essential for sustainable growth.
When you first start running your business, you might find that the costs associated with operations are higher than you initially anticipated, and that’s perfectly normal. Especially in the early days of your new business, it’s often necessary to spend money as an initial investment to reap the benefits down the road.
To achieve sustainable growth and long-term success, you need to make strategic investments and be prudent with your financial management. By budgeting wisely, saving for personal expenses, exploring funding options, and fulfilling your financial obligations, you pave the way for your business in the face of challenges and competition, turning your entrepreneurial dreams into a profitable reality.
Before you open your door, save-up a financial cushion to cover personal expenses while your business gets off the ground. Additionally, explore funding options like loans, grants, or investors, and understand your financial responsibilities and tax obligations as a business owner.
Reshaping Your Mindset is a Must
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster, filled with both triumphs and setbacks. To thrive in this unpredictable journey, you need to cultivate a growth mindset and learn to be resilient and persistent. A growth mindset enables you to view challenges as opportunities to learn and innovate—it gives you the tools you need to turn failures into valuable lessons. Resilience empowers you to bounce back from setbacks, absorbing shocks and emerging stronger. Being persistent helps you navigate obstacles and stay focused on long-term goals, even in the face of rejection or financial challenges.
In our own business, my husband and I hold our work to the highest standard possible—and we encourage our employees to do the same. An important key to our growth has been a willingness to go back to the drawing board with the ins and outs of how we were running our business. After a few months in business, we did an internal audit to see what we could improve and what we needed to change to be better – the results speak for themselves.
The ability to pivot when necessary and learn from failures is crucial. Entrepreneurs must be adaptable and willing to change strategies, tactics, etc. to stay relevant. Each setback offers valuable insights and can help guide future decisions you make while leading your company. By embracing these qualities, business owners can transform obstacles into stepping stones, ensuring their businesses not only survive but thrive.
It’s Worth it to Invest in a Dream Team
After opening a business together, my husband and I are grateful that we were each other’s partners throughout the process. The prospect of running a business alone might be appealing to some, but at least in our experience, having more people to lean on and learn from has been an asset. Building a competent and motivated team will not only support your business, but help you as an individual feel supported throughout the ups and downs of business ownership. Surround yourself with skilled and passionate individuals who share the same vision, and you will see accelerated business growth and success.
Part of our success was being selective during the recruiting and hiring process to build out a team that aligned with our own work ethic. We believe in the power of accountability – both from ourselves and our team – and aren’t afraid to hold our business to high standards. Invest in the recruitment process and once you land your dream team, prioritize retention. People are truly one of the best investments you can make as a business owner.
The Customer Really Does Come First
A common oversight among first-time entrepreneurs is the tendency to focus inward, believing their business revolves around your ideas and ambitions. The truth, however, is that successful businesses keep customers at their center. Placing your customers at the heart of your business strategy is not just a good practice— it’s a necessity.
By actively listening to our customers and responding to their feedback with action, we gained invaluable insights into their needs and preferences. Understand customers can help you anticipate improvements to your systems. We make an effort to check in on customers too, so we are inspired to continuously improve. It has become a part of our mission to refine our service offerings and customer service in ways that directly cater to what our customers want.
By consistently aligning your offerings with customer needs and preferences, you not only enhance customer satisfaction but also establish a loyal customer base. Actively engaging with your customers through surveys, feedback forms, and direct conversations fosters a sense of trust and demonstrates your commitment to their satisfaction. By spending more time focusing on delivering external results, you will consequently improve your internal systems. Building strong customer relationships can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
While you can never know exactly what business ownership might have in store for you, the success of your business is informed by how you handle hiccups along the way. There is no perfect recipe for success, but if you prepare yourself for uncomfortable experiences and are open to learning along the way, the potential for your business’ growth and strong performance is in your hands!
Wendi Forester is the Co-Owner of Floor Coverings International in the South Sound Area. For more information about Floor Covering International and its franchise opportunities, please visit https://flooring-franchise.com/ or call 877-559-3496.
Photo Courtesy Franchise Journal