First Person: Lessons I Learned From Starting My Own Business

Yahoo Contributor Network

Starting my own business was a dream of mine since I was a little girl, but I quickly learned some operating lessons I had not dreamed about. Being self-employed is not for the lazy, but for hard workers that take planning seriously. Mastering these 5 concepts will lead you to success.

Establishing a career

Being self-employed and owning your own business isn't about having a back-up plan, but being the back-up plan. My business was harder to start because I didn't have an income stream to fund it. Many entrepreneurs I know, besides myself, have worked a career type job before starting their own business. This in turn gave them not only a back-up plan until their business was self-sufficient, but it gave them capital to invest in their business and put back savings. Just following this step would have saved me a lot of stress, time, and money.

Know your worth

This may be the single, most important concept entrepreneurs should master. After a few months of mismanaging my time, I realized I needed to calculate my worth based on my skills to make sure my worth was met per hour. This meant turning down jobs for higher-paying ones, but also motivation to focus each hour. I can be very goal-oriented, so after calculating a reasonable number, I make sure I hit it during my work hours. If you don't know your value, clients will take advantage. Knowing my worth also paints a clear picture of what certifications and goals I need to meet before I can increase my prices.

Emergency Fund

No one should attempt starting a business without an emergency fund, or investor. I always felt invincible; if an emergency came along, I always felt I could work a few sleepless nights to compensate, but it turns out, it doesn't work that way. The emergency can be thousands more than you expected, and having an emergency fund will keep your business afloat.

Keep business earnings separate

It's important to have a business account that carries a positive balance for tax reasons, but also for customer refunds. Keeping my business and personal accounts separate also helps me spend less and budget more. I also try to give myself an allowance instead of free range to use the funds, so my business doesn't go broke. This method makes it easier for me calculate how much I am making each day, and where each dollar is going.

Drive to succeed

When I say a drive to succeed, I'm not talking about a desire to make money and be successful. I'm talking about motivation and endurance to work around the clock. Anytime you pick something off of the ground, you are going to work harder than you could have ever dreamed. I didn't realize I would be working my vacations, late nights, and weekends, but that is what owning a business is all about. It means having the motivation to limit my personal desires to watch movies, or go out and have fun. With my own business, there is not a lot of time to do those things, but for me it is worth it!

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

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