In early 2015, I started a business and by the end of 2016, I had to shut it down. Prior to starting my own business, I amassed a ton of experience with process improvement and change management. You can read more about me gaining that experience in the first post HERE. In post five, I’ll take you through what I learned.

Now over a year

since dissolving my first business, I have a much different perspective on the entire experience. At first, I looked at my business as a waste of ~$2,000, hundreds of hours of my time, and dozens of hours of my colleagues time. Then there was the impact on my family. While I did most of the work on templates and posts after everyone had gone to bed, I know I wasn’t always entirely present. I had a habit of getting lost in thought at all times of the day.

Now I know that ultimately, I was successful in my first solo business endeavour. Here’s why I think that:

I’m more well-rounded:

Before starting a business, I didn’t have exposure or insight to a lot of things. I hadn’t worked with the state on appropriate filings, had never developed a business operating agreement, never worked with an accountant on business taxes, and didn’t know the difference between WordPress and a hole in the ground. By taking on a solo business, I had to do it all. By doing it all, I learned an enormous amount…even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

I better understand business expenses:

Yes, you can start and run a blog for less than $50. No, you cannot start a business for less than $250 (or at least I haven’t figured out how to do that yet). My state incorporation fees are $175. An annual filing costs about $100. Web Hosting, even on a shared account will run $40 to $80 per year. My accountant charges $250 for a basic business filing (I wouldn’t recommend doing your own unless you have some training). At this point, you’re in for at least $500 and haven’t done any marketing, purchased any themes or plugins, don’t have business cards or promotional material…you get the idea. Starting and running a business does require an investment.

Websites are no longer foreign territory:

Since dissolving my business, I’ve built a few more sites. Recently, I installed a plugin that resulted in a continuous redirect. I could not get into my site. The old me would have panicked. Fortunately, through my experience, I knew I could go to my C-panel, find the plugin folder that was causing the error, and rename it temporarily. The result – I’m back in! While I’m far from an expert, I know my way around. In my current day job, I’m working with two consulting companies to get a quote on a website redesign. Now I’ll know which one is full of sh*t (hopefully neither) when we go over the quote and project plan.

Attorneys, Accountants, and Consultants…or Lions, Tigers, and Bears oh my!

About nine months ago, I found myself downtown Chicago in a conference room with five attorneys, two accountants, and a half dozen shareholders to discuss the progress of the company that is my day job. The conversation got a little heated. At one point, one of the attorneys not on my side fired a bit of a shot at me about what I saying (sort of a be careful, you’re talking down to my client type thing). The old me would have shut down. The new me fired right back with “I’m stating facts – if your client doesn’t like the facts, that’s on her”. My point is titles can be scary. Prior to tackling my own business and getting acquainted with all aspects of a business, some things made me nervous. I didn’t know enough to engage in conversations and people could use that to their advantage. Again, I’m not an expert but the experience has made me much for knowledgeable and prepared for tougher conversations.

I know when to cut bait:

Hesitation can have serious negative consequences. The bigger the business, the more impactful a bad decision can be. Holding onto something for too long isn’t good. I still process the facts and understand the data before making a call but if something isn’t working today, it doesn’t take me long to make a change.

Looking back, starting my own business was a big undertaking. I can say with complete confidence that I didn’t waste anything. The time, money, and energy spent in the process has only helped me to grow. Failure is a mindset. Now a little older and a little wiser, there is no doubt in my mind that I have succeeded from failure. I’m better equipped and well prepared for whatever comes next.