I started my own small business a couple of years ago, and thanks to a lot of hard work and your advice, we’re seeing some growth. If you could go back and restart your business, what things would you do differently the second time around?
If there was one thing I could change, it would be taking more time during the hiring process. I definitely didn’t spend enough time and energy during interviews way back when. Consequently, there were times when we let crazy people in the door. Once that happened, we had to spend a lot of time and effort dealing with their craziness before we finally moved them out of the building. Not fun!
Another thing has to do with retained earnings. We didn’t begin taking a percentage of our net profits and setting it aside for retained earnings until we got too tight on cash. Starting over, I’d do that from day one. I’d run a profit and loss statement for the month, close the books for the month, and take a percentage of the net profit—after paying myself a living wage—and automatically put it aside as savings for the business.
People problems and money problems are small-business killers. We fought so hard and were so passionate about everything. Sometimes I wonder how many mistakes I made as a result of over-the-top intensity. Don’t misunderstand; you’ve got to be intense and passionate to make things work. But there were probably a few times when I could have handled things with a little more understanding and class.
Maybe that would be a distant third. The first two things probably affected that somewhat, too. I’m a little more relaxed now, but I know one thing for sure. Not having to deal with crazy people, and having a little bit of money saved, changes your whole outlook on things!
Related: Dave Says: Leadership is Servanthood