Business, Legal

Striking Out On Your Own: Five Lessons Learned About Starting A Small Business

Three years ago I decided to start my own company.  I was lured by the promise of freedom and the fact that the only limits that I would have on my income was the work that I was willing to put into the company.  Over the course of the first few months, I felt more lost than I had ever felt before, not knowing what I needed to do or how to get where I wanted to go.  During my time when I was wandering aimlessly, I learned five important lessons that every business owner needs to understand.

 

Contacts

 

Every sale begins with contact, whether it be you cold calling someone, or someone reaching out to you for a product or service.  Once the initial contact is made you have to gather and store the customer’s data so you can follow up and push the sale or try to make another sales pitch.  The first months of my company were a nightmare.  I kept customer data on post-it notes and scraps of paper around the office.  Even after my assistant digitized the information and put it into an email address book, there was still missing and redundant data.  It made it very difficult to delegate work to my employees because I was the only one who had all of the information.

 

Data Security

 

The second lesson that I learned was probably the hardest.  I knew that all of the company’s data needed to be backed up at all times, and I did so with a small server in a closet.  We did not have an IT staff at the time, so I had to make do with some private contractors and some friends that owed me favors.  What I did not anticipate was a fire that would wreck the office and destroy the equipment.  The insurance covered the physical property, but almost all of the company’s data was lost because I did not have it stored off-site or in the cloud.

 

Workflow

 

As the company started to grow and I hired some help I got better about delegating tasks and asking my staff to handle larger and larger projects.  All of the work seemed to be getting done, but I soon found out that was a façade.  There were only a couple of employees that were doing the work of a dozen, and one day they both quit on me because they felt overworked.  I did not do a good job overseeing workflow because I assumed that everyone was pulling their weight when the projects were being completed on time.

 

Empowerment

 

I got those employees back with raises and promotions, and soon the company was growing faster than I anticipated.  I was happy with the pace of the growth, but I felt myself being asked to do more and more trivial things on a daily basis.  Employees were asking me to make decisions that they should have been able to make on their own, and I realized that at no point had I ever empowered any of them to take a lead or to take action on behalf of the business.  This left me in the position as the only decision maker, and when I was not in the office or I was in a business meeting, the employees had no one to turn to for even the most simple decisions.

 

Help

 

After a year I was ready to give up.  I was working eighteen hour days and, even though I was starting to make a little money, I was never able to enjoy it.  Every waking hour was spent on the business and my personal relationships were falling apart.  It was at this point that I realized that I needed serious help.  I thought that staff might be the answer, but more employees just meant even more headaches.  It was not until I stumbled upon SugarCRM that things really began to turn around.  Their integrated sales pipeline made it possible for me to organize and share data among all of my employees and among the different departments.  The project management tools enabled me to track who was doing what and who was pulling their weight in large projects, and more importantly, the thresholds and guideposts that I could establish for my employees meant that I had to make fewer and fewer menial decisions.

 

That was two years ago, and my husband and I just got back from our first vacation since our honeymoon.  SugarCRM allowed me to regain control over my business and enjoy the fruits of my creation instead of being trapped inside a constant nightmare.

 

 

I am Lynn Taylor, owner of an internet services company and I have been using the SugarCRM solution for a little over two years.  They have the tools and the expertise to help any small business owner and I highly recommend their services if you are feeling overwhelmed and overworked.

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