Opening your own business is so immensely rewarding. For me, it was the fulfillment of a dream. Working a 9-5 job, making someone else successful and working “my fingers to the bone” on behalf of another person simply wasn’t what I wanted to do. So, I started my own company. However, I quickly encountered several problems that threatened to make me lose my sleep and my sanity. With luck and perseverance, I overcame them – here’s what you need to know if you’re ever faced with a similar situation.
The first thing that hit me was the lack of insurance. I’d never really processed the fact that I would be responsible for my own insurance as a small business owner. I “knew” it would be the case, but the reality of the situation never hit me until I had to start paying for medical care out of my own pocket. Between my wife and my kids and myself, even basic doctor’s bills were piling up rapidly. I solved that problem by getting insurance for myself and my family. I highly recommend that you have an insurance plan in place before you open your doors – it can save you an immense amount of money and stress.
I’ve had some experience with bookkeeping and record keeping, so when I opened the doors of my business, it seemed like a no brainer to do it for myself. At first, this system worked out fine. However, it quickly turned into a real chore. I spent more time looking for ways to save money on my taxes and double-checking figures than I did actually interacting with my customers. My business started to suffer, but what can you do? Keeping the numbers straight is just as important as bringing in business, right? Finally, I had to concede that I just couldn’t do everything, nor should I have tried. I hired a professional accountant to help with my taxes and outsourced my everyday bookkeeping needs. Not only was it more affordable than I’d thought, but the money my accountant saved me more than paid for the bookkeeping service.
All Work and No Play
I love working in my office. I love owning my own business. There’s not a day that goes by that I regret my decision to start my own company. However, in the beginning, it did seem to eat up all my time. I figured that was natural for a new business – you have to put in enough effort to get things off the ground, right? I was wrong. It never ended. It kept piling up and piling up until, eventually, I realized that I did nothing but work in the office. I was neglecting time with my kids, my wife and didn’t even have time to take care of my health. It started to weigh me down and I began second-guessing my decision. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. How did other people do it? Then I found out that you have to MAKE time for play and personal time. You have to set hard boundaries and then stick to them in order to have balance in your life.
As a new business owner, it took some time before I was able to afford to bring on any actual employees (other than myself). However, even once I did, I still felt that I was doing everything myself. It turns out the problem was me, not my employees – I was unable to delegate tasks efficiently and was hurting my own success. Thankfully, delegation is a skill that can be developed and I set to it wholeheartedly.
Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore, an auto flooring company based out Columbia, Missouri. Before AutoMatStore, Elfrink was the operator of an automotive production site. AutoMatStore.com carries an array of customized logo, carpet, molded and all weather mats for many vehicles.