There are countless checklists and guides for starting a business (including mine), but there are a lot of things that those lists miss, leave out, or just can’t accurately capture. Those are the intangibles or “things that you don’t know, you don’t know”. With that in mind I wanted to share things to consider based on lessons learned personally and from the experiences of business owners I’ve worked with. Here a few of the often-unspoken things to consider.

Know your WHY

Why do you want to be in business for yourself? There are many reasons people decide to go out on their own and be their own boss, but everyone has at least one reason. You don’t like being told what to do? Want more freedom? Setting your own hours? Those are cool, but will they be enough to sustain you in the moments when you are struggling with getting clients or unsold inventory? The reason could be as simple or complex as you want, but it needs to be something you can readily recall and/or express. It’s not a matter of if you will need to remember it, but when because those days and times will come. Be sure to take some time to consider and evaluate your why before you take that leap of faith to start the business.

Doing what you love vs. Running a business

I enjoy making waist beads and other types of jewelry; it’s a hobby of mine but turning it into a business is very different. The same is true for just about everything you could think of doing. Someone could be a great mechanic, very successful at their respective job, and decide they want to start their own. Going from employee to owner is a big jump in responsibilities. As the owner you now must make sure you stay current on industry standards and practices AND make sure the business is functioning and compliant with all relevant laws. It requires you to find a balance and to create systems to be sure you stay on top of things like taxes, inventory, supplies, payroll if you have employees, when and how to pay for expenses. This is not intended to deter you from starting your own business, but to help you go into it with your eyes wide open.

Be Flexible

I am currently learning and living through this as I build my business. Almost all checklists and guides say you need to develop a plan, which is true. However, you must also plan for that plan not going the way you expected. It is important to have a plan, but equally as important to be ready and willing to pivot and change courses when needed. Living through a pandemic has required everyone to figure this out in some way shape or form.

Find Your Village

This is a necessity for life in general, but it has a different meaning and context when you are running a business. As supportive as they may be, family and friends aren’t always able to help or understand what is needed to maintain and grow your business. Having mentor’s, peers, and go to people and sources within your specific industry is invaluable. I am beyond grateful for the community of like-minded attorneys I have been able to connect with; just knowing there are people going through similar things makes a world of a difference. There will always be someone with more experience than you and there will always be someone coming up behind you. Finding and cultivating your village is a major key to success.


How you communicate in your personal life does not always work for your professional. However, knowing your personality and communication style is important when running a business because you are required to communicate with a variety of people. If you are one person show, then you must manage communicating with clients, vendors, suppliers, accountants, and anyone else encounter as an owner. Once your business grows and you have employees, you must figure out and manage how they communicate. We all have different personalities and communication styles, but to successfully navigate the inevitable challenges we must take the time to learn about those around us. Don’t assume that because what you’ve been doing has worked, that it will continue to do so. A part of being flexible is being willing to adjust how we communicate with ourselves and others.

There are other things to consider, but these are some of the big ones that have helped me. I’d love to hear about your experiences or things you’ve learned along the way.

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