Sara Koonar
Starting a business

3 Things No One Tells Your Before You Start a Business

I started my business, Platform Media & Management Inc, an influencer talent agency, just shy of my 30th birthday. Prior to that, I was a magazine editor and journalism grad. I didn’t have an MBA and had barely read a book on business, but I was from a family of entrepreneurs. Both my brothers and dad each owned their own business, and my education came from listening in on their dinner conversations. However, there was still much I had to learn.

I am sharing the top three things no one tells you before starting a business. There have been many times while chatting with fellow entrepreneurs when we commiserated about the things we never anticipated before we started. I want to make sure future founders and new owners have these insights to avoid the hurdles I faced. I have taken these conversations and questions my audience on social media has asked to narrow down three things I want to share with you.

1. Get Your Ducks in a Row, Then Grow!

The most frequently asked question I get is when I knew I was ready to hire employees.

What no one told me before I started was that founders tend to wear a lot of hats. In the beginning, I did everything from sales, to bookkeeping, to marketing. As a journalism grad, at the start of my business, things like bookkeeping were brand new to me. However, I learned on the go. QuickBooks helped me a lot with this, making invoicing and keeping track of my expenses so easy. I made sure I found tools that helped keep me organized so I could manage many tasks at once. Once you get to a place where you can afford help, it’s essential to let go of those tasks so you prioritize the parts of your business that need your expertise and attention the most.

I hired my first employee almost a year into the business once the company had a steady flow of clients. I think it’s extremely important to have a good grasp of your financials so you know what you can afford. Whether I needed to start someone part-time and move them into a full-time position once we had the cash flow, I made sure I was making decisions that were in line with how much we were earning at the time. And since then, every time I’ve added a team member was when we were profitable enough to afford that additional salary. However, sometimes you must spend money to make money, and investing in a new employee can bring in more opportunities. I am constantly checking in with my team to see if they feel overwhelmed, and if they are, I know it’s time we start budgeting for extra help.

2. Time Management and Boundary Setting is a Necessary Skill

The next thing no one told me before I started was how much of my time would be consumed by my business. When speaking with entrepreneurs, many decide to work for themselves because it allows them more flexibility to set their own hours. However, I do miss the days I could clock out at 5 p.m.. When you own your own business, you are the one liable for the entire operation, and a crisis can arise at any time. Your responsibilities don’t end when the workday does. Thus, for a lot of new business owners, they are shocked by how much of their personal time is sacrificed.

That being said, my advice to new founders is to set boundaries early. When you work in social media like I do, your business is right there at your fingertips every time you look at your phone, making balance even harder. Put in place fool-proof processes, stay organized and ahead on tasks, and be clear with your team and clients when you are available and when you are offline. It’s okay to put the phone away occasionally. If you have a good set up and make these boundaries clear earlier, it will be easier to maintain. It’s so important to remember to take time to fill your cup so you can show up to work feeling one hundred percent. You can’t take care of your team and your clients if you are not taking care of yourself first.

3. Have Fun Doing What You Love

I received a great question the other day. A founder asked me how to get their team excited to help create content for social media. At Platform, we really make it a fun task. We have a blast making TikToks at the office, using trending sounds and humour to get the attention of new clients. Everyone has input on what trends we should try out, and we put all those ideas into our content calendar. We use the time we film together to bond and do something out of our comfort zones. It gets us out of our desk chairs and adds something different to our day. We may represent influencers, but we’re not influencers, so it’s fun to experience the content creation side of the business they do, which helps us better understand them too.

It’s so important to choose a business you genuinely love. As I mentioned before, your business is going to be a big part of your life, and there are going to be so many instances where things are challenging. If you don’t have passion for what you are doing, getting through those hard times will be especially difficult.

We saw a lot of businesses face immense hardship over the past couple of years. It was the love for what they did that gave them the motivation to continue. Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of resilience. You must be creative, adaptable, innovative, and energetic. Ensuring you are in a field that plays to your strengths and interests makes it so much easier to push through the difficult times and really enjoy the good ones. I chose to start Platform because I’ve always had an interest in advertising; I love the world of social media. As a former magazine editor, I understand what truly goes into content creation, and I have a passion for negotiating and sales. This business fulfills me, so it never really feels like work. The best part of owning your own business is you get to choose the people you get to work with and the projects you take on, so choose wisely, and you’ll find a lot more joy in your day-to-day.

To learn more about Platform Media and support their business, visit their website or check them out on Instagram.

Sara Koonar
Sara Koonar
Sara Koonar is the founder and president of Platform Media & Management Inc, an influencer talent agency in Toronto, Canada, that brokers the partnerships between Canada's top creator talent across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, and the world's leading brands.

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