Small Business Owners Reflect on Lessons Learned Before Starting Out

Small business owners have shared the insights they wish they had known before starting their ventures, highlighting the importance of patience, sacrifice, and key aspects such as sales and marketing. The research, based on a survey of 500 UK SME owners and senior figures, revealed that 22 percent of respondents wished they had anticipated the challenges they would face when establishing their businesses.

Among the key learnings, business owners emphasized the significance of not being too hard on oneself when making mistakes and paying attention to even the smallest details. They also stressed the need for patience, as success may not be immediate, and highlighted the importance of sales and marketing for business growth. Sacrifices in both personal and professional life were considered essential, along with an understanding of the substantial amount of paperwork involved in running a business.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, advice included managing expectations and not becoming disheartened if immediate success is not achieved. Additionally, it was recommended not to attempt to handle all aspects of the business alone and to trust one’s own judgment while seeking the support of a reliable team.

A spokesperson from accounting software Dext, which conducted the research, emphasized the value of having a reliable support network and team to navigate the unexpected challenges faced by small business owners. They also encouraged entrepreneurs to seek expertise from professionals such as bookkeepers and financial management advisors to alleviate administrative burdens.

The study further revealed that although 51 percent of respondents considered the leap into entrepreneurship to be relatively easy, 25 percent initially found it challenging to take that step. Additionally, 31 percent believe that starting a business now is more difficult than when they began their ventures.

Despite the challenges, 74 percent of respondents expressed their recommendation for others to become their own bosses. However, 44 percent acknowledged that excessive business administration initially hindered their ability to focus on their core objectives. Moreover, 35 percent admitted to waiting longer than they should have to hire experts, such as accountants, due to a lack of confidence in financial management.

On average, respondents reported that it took two-and-a-half years to achieve business success. However, the unexpected changes in the business landscape over the past year caused 37 percent to struggle with financial organization.

Looking ahead, 65 percent of respondents expressed a strong desire to grow their businesses within the next year, following the eventual end of the pandemic. General business planning, financial management support from accountants, and advice on diversifying their businesses were identified as key areas where assistance would support growth. Notably, more than 40 percent of respondents do not currently utilize the services of an accountant.

The spokesperson from accounting software Dext emphasized the importance of improving financial knowledge and expertise within SME businesses, particularly during challenging times. They emphasized that the guidance of expert accountants and effective business systems can greatly contribute to the success and sustainability of small businesses.

Top 30 Insights Small Business Owners Wish They Had Known:

  1. Mistakes should not be dwelled upon or self-punished.
  2. Patience is crucial.
  3. Attention to detail is vital.
  4. The process can be stressful.
  5. Immediate success is not guaranteed, so don’t be discouraged.
  6. Sales and marketing are highly important.
  7. Trust your judgment more.
  8. Be prepared to sacrifice in your personal and professional life.
  9. The volume of paperwork involved should not be underestimated.
  10. Avoid trying to handle everything independently.
  11. Be ready to adapt your business offering.
  12. Founding a business can be a lonely experience.
  13. You are not expected to know everything.
  14. The difficulty of running a business.
  15. Be prepared to see things through in the long term.
  16. Seek advice and opinions from others.
  17. Pay attention to cash flow.
  18. Accept that making a loss is okay.
  19. Building relationships with suppliers is critical.
  20. Hiring an accountant or bookkeeper can significantly ease the burden.
  21. Take regular breaks to maintain enthusiasm.
  22. Research is never truly complete.
  23. Surround yourself with the right people.
  24. Hiring talented individuals can be challenging.
  25. Connect with other new business owners.
  26. Delegate tasks to others who excel in those areas.
  27. Focus on a core product or service.
  28. Personnel management requires substantial time and effort.
  29. Employ individuals who possess strengths in your weaker areas.
  30. Acknowledge that you may not know your product as well as you think.

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