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What I wish I knew before becoming a business owner

Q & A with three business owners who reveal what they’ve learned on the road to SMB success.

Owning a business isn’t easy and the journey to success can be a long, arduous path. Having battled through many unexpected twists and turns along the way, most business owners are proud of their accomplishments and can pass along invaluable advice to their fellow entrepreneurs.

In this article, three Canadian business owners talk about their experiences starting up their own companies and some lessons they wish they’d learned before diving into the business world.

Emily Lyons

Emily Lyons

Emily Lyons runs Femme Fatale Media Group, which she describes as a “full-service media agency.” Femme Fatale originally started as an event staffing agency before expanding into the business of public relations, social media strategists and influencers.

Instagram: @EmilyLyons
LinkedIn: /femmefatalemedia
Twitter: @msfatale

Taylor Gailey

Taylor Gailey

Taylor Gailey owns LeTigreMEDIA, an “all-in-one” digital marketing agency providing social media management, digital advertising, website design, sales funnel creation and creative content solutions for growing businesses.

Instagram: @LeTigreMedia

Tamer Mecky

Tamer Mecky

Tamer Mecky is a real estate agent in the GTA providing great experience for buying and selling a home. He has a ‘clients-first’ approach and promises to listen, provide expert advice and works hard on his client’s behalf.

Instagram: @tamer.mecky

1. What’s one tip you would give your past self with your new business knowledge?

Emily: Don’t stress! Everything passes, enjoy the ride.

Taylor: Don’t think twice, just start. The only way to move forward is by beginning a business you are passionate about. Waiting for all the pieces to come together perfectly will keep you waiting forever. Business is a constant learning cycle, so learn as you build.

Tamer: Your friends and colleagues WILL NOT be your first customers.

2. What’s the hardest thing about owning a business that you didn’t expect?

Tamer: Hiring new team members/employees who are as motivated about the work as I am.

Emily: The long hours. I’m not talking staying late, I’m talking lifestyle. My entire life revolves around my business from the moment I wake until I sleep. It’s just what happens as an entrepreneur.

Taylor: Waking up at the crack of dawn. In order to stay ahead of the wave, you need to be awake before the other business owners and clients you are trying to target. If a typical workday begins around 8:30 or 9 am, you need to have put in a good two to three hours of work prior to meetings, sales calls and days packed with everything life throws your way.

3. If you could go back in time and change one thing about your previous business decisions, what would it be and why?

Taylor: Just because you are young, doesn’t mean you have to sell yourself short. A lot of the clients we began with were amazing, but I wasn’t confident off the bat and was pricing out our services extremely low while driving home amazing results. In the digital marketing spectrum, it is completely the opposite. Much of the time it is a complete advantage being young and understanding the digital world — and how relationships are developed and built. Being confident in the services you offer, the business you are running and the results you are bringing clients will take you a long way in building the foundation of your business.

Tamer: I would have created a new team member manual or onboarding workbook to help get new team members on board as soon as possible.

Emily: I would hire smarter from the beginning. That was my biggest struggle — finding good employees that shared my vision and passion. I’ve finally got the most amazing team who are truly like my family.

Words of wisdom

Final words of advice? Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re just starting out with your business, it’s okay to take it slow and develop at your own pace. Even if you follow the advice of the three fantastic business owners above, you’ll still make mistakes and hit bumps and curves in the road.

Everyone will look back at their journey and realize there was something they could have done differently to make their transition into a business owner a smoother ride. Nonetheless, it’s always better to have confidence in your vision and execute it to the best of your ability. You’ll learn what works best for you and your team along the way.

Up Next: Have you ever wondered who’s behind all those infomercials?

Shairina Brown

Shairina is a creative writer and entrepreneur based in Toronto who has worked in media, publishing, and business. Her love for writing is only outmatched by her love for reading. Other personal and professional hobbies include photography, graphic design, and journalism.

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