Since entrepreneurship isn't a cookie-cutter career, everything is pretty much learned along the way. However, I really wish I knew — and accepted – these three things from the very beginning:
1. I wish I would have known to really nail down a target niche from the start. When you first get into business, you think you have it all figured out, even with your target audience. But that was truly not the case for me. We started out solely with service and contractors, but we soon learned that we were missing out on a huge audience of businesses that worked with customers and needed to collect payments.
We were focused on creating something for a certain area of business owners and completely ignoring some great people from the start. Your target audience is going to change over time, of course, but try to figure out who your true target niche is as soon as possible, so you don't miss out on customers who could use your business or service.
2. I wish I would have hired someone to handle all the Web design from the start. When first creating my business, I was on a tight budget. I decided to create the company website myself to save some money, even though I had no idea how to build one at all. It ended up taking me months to get the website even close to what I thought I needed.
Plus, all that time that I spent building the company website took away from the actual time of building the business and the brand. The best thing you can do is to hire a Web design firm or a freelancer and let them handle it all, so you can grow the business. Focus on your strengths and hire your weaknesses.
3. I wish I knew that friends just wouldn't understand my chosen career path. When I started paving my way into entrepreneurship, I noticed that many of my friends just didn't get it. They just seemed so disinterested in what I was doing because it wasn't the "norm" or what society told you to do once you're out of college. I quickly learned that many of the people I would hang out with, didn't share my passion and would cause me to not get things done, and take time off that I needed to spend working.
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road as it is, but you need to make sure you surround yourself with those that understand what you're going through. Doing so not only puts you in good company, but also brings out the passion in you to keep pressing forward. Not everyone is going to understand what you do or why you're doing it, but you have to learn early on that it's just an "entrepreneur thing."
Ashley Bodi is the co-founder of Business Beware, a website that helps small business owners collect from non-paying customers and warn each other about problematic customers.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and e-mail lessons.