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Startup Stories: What I Wish I Knew


Startup Stories: What I Wish I Knew
Photo by Flickr user sheilascarborough

New Work City is a co-working space that is filled to the brim with independent professionals, entrepreneurs and startups -- so in general a wealth of knowledge resides there on everything from fine wine to programming languages. Thinking it might be an ideal place for getting advice for those just starting up, I asked New Work City members "What one thing did you wish you knew before you started up?"

You Don't Have to Go it Alone

After the exhilarating thrill of launching a business wears often, many an entrepreneur begins to feel a terrible weight. Every decision can seem fraught, and the road to profitability and even solvency impossibly long and paved with obstacles.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, advises Avishai Weiss of Apartable.com, an site that helps improve the quality of apartment listings and lessen the aggravation of consumers on the hunt for a place. "Sometimes all you have to do to get what you need in business is to ask. You'd be surprised what people are willing to provide if you just ask," he explains.

Are you looking for help with your business? From web design to tax help to errands, here are some strategies on lightening your load.

But You May Have to Wear a Lot of Hats

Being able to keep a hold of the big picture and also manage the endless daily details that are a part of running a business can be crazy-making. So if you're not used to multitasking, you're about to become a consummate juggler of tasks.

Jess Adamiak, writer, presenter, and content consultant explains that she wishes she had read Michael E. Gerber's The E-Myth before launching her business, pointing to this quote: "As an independent agent, it turns out you have three jobs instead of one. 1) The entrepreneur, who conceives of ideas and makes them happen, 2) The technician, who performs your business's services (or builds its product), 3) The manager, who makes sure your contracts are fair and your invoices aren't hopelessly backlogged."

If you're getting fatigued by being CEO, chief cheerleader, chief marketing officer, and chief of everything else, learn tips on getting more work done here.

Money Matters -- A Lot

Hire a bookkeeper or try to do it yourself? Which program should you use? And what preparation do you need to do year-round to keep from having a minor heart attack when tax time rolls around?

"Learn basic bookkeeping from day one," says Ron Suarez, the founder of Loudfeed.tv. "Once other people are doing the books for you make sure you understand everything they are doing, so you can check their work. In the best of circumstances others will often make mistakes you should catch. In the worst of circumstances others will deceive you."

Ready to hire a CPA? Here are some tips on finding a good one.

Put Your Customers First -- Always

Quite a few entrepreneurs have been seduced by the "perfect" idea -- and spent all of their blood, sweat and tears working on it before realizing there is no market for their brainchild. That's why it makes a lot of sense to keep close tabs on your customers' wants and needs.

Anna Curran is the founder of Cookbook Create and praises the customer-centric philosophy of Steve Blank, who outlined a strong customer development process in his Four Steps to the Epiphany. She says: "Developing a product by conducting customer development experiments can be difficult and time consuming, but it's the most efficient way to get insights to design a product that will delight your customers."

Find more great book tips for your entrepreneurial bookshelf here.

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