Some of the best business ideas start early—very early. In fact, many of the world’s most successful businesses, like Facebook and WordPress, were launched when their founders were still in their teens.
That’s why we were so excited to support the business ideas of some budding young entrepreneurs by participating in the BUSINESS G.IRL Incubator virtual workshop. It’s held by The Compton Girls Club, which equips girls in Compton, California, with the resources they need to pursue their business ideas and be successful.
Several qualified female experts led sessions to educate girls on the basics of business—from insurance and taxes to business planning and pricing. These experts included:
- Amy Murphy, leader of the Expert Segment Marketing Team within Intuit’s Small Business Self-Employed Group
- Jessy Hanley, director of Ecosystem and Lifecycle Marketing at Intuit
- Nayo Carter-Gray, owner and founder of 1st Step Accounting LLC and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor
As part of the Incubator, the girls got to participate in workshops and get feedback on their business ideas, which ranged from bakeries to sneaker companies. They also walked away with tons of valuable knowledge to fuel their entrepreneurial spirits and start their businesses on the right track.
However, much of the information the experts shared wasn’t only applicable to the young girls. As we listened to the sessions, we heard nuggets of wisdom that apply to all business owners—whether they’re well-established or just getting started.
We’ve pulled together some of those important tips and reminders right here. Whether these are new to you or you’re simply in need of a refresher, we think everyone can take something away from these lessons.
Lesson #1: Business ownership isn’t always flashy.
There are plenty of thrilling aspects of running a business—from developing a marketing campaign to landing a new customer. Laying the groundwork isn’t always exciting, but it’s critically important.
“This is the boring stuff,” said Carter-Gray about business aspects like insurance, legal entity structures, and accounting.
But while she recognizes that these fundamentals are enough to make any business owner groan, they offer a huge payoff in terms of effectively managing your money and protecting your business.
“Your business insurance is your umbrella protecting you from the rain, and your legal entity structure is the fence keeping people from getting to the things that you absolutely care about,” she added.
Lesson #2: Your business plan is your true north.
When it comes to the basics of your business, it’s hard to overstate the importance of your business plan. Murphy mentioned that this plan helps entrepreneurs proactively spot flaws in their businesses and also demonstrates legitimacy when pursuing lenders and investors.
She highlighted one more key benefit of this business roadmap: It keeps you focused. Murphy referenced her time running her own yarn store, and how she was constantly presented with opportunities to participate in special events or attend fairs. “They were all cool things, but they weren’t a part of the plan,” she said.
That’s why it’s important to have a strategy in place to guide you as you make strategic decisions for your business. And even better? Research shows that companies that have a business plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t.
Lesson #3: Planning is important, but so is flexibility.
While the experts said focus and planning matter as a business owner, they also emphasized the importance of flexibility. Entrepreneurs need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt when the unexpected comes up.
“Changing doesn’t necessarily slow you down,” said Hanley. “It might get you there faster. As soon as you can get a little bit comfortable with doing new things or trying new things, when new opportunities arise, they become less debilitating because it’s a muscle you’ve built.”
Many of the girls have already seen the importance of staying nimble. One participant said she’s had to adapt her blanket business as yarn has been less available in stores because of the pandemic. Thus, she’s had to account for the supply shortage in her product pricing.
Business owners should have a plan, but they should also recognize when that plan needs to shift.
Lesson #4: Your business is important, but it can’t be everything.
Maintaining adequate work-life balance is a common plight for business owners. That’s why Hanley advised the girls to keep their hustle mindsets in check from the get-go.
“Make sure that you don’t in your mind decide that literally every second of your free time will be spent on your business,” Hanley said. “You have to leave some room for your own mental health.”
It’s good advice for all entrepreneurs. Your business is what you do, but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) make up the entirety of who you are.
Lesson #5: Find the support you need.
“No one is 100% great at everything,” Hanley said. “Look for support where you are not strong. You don’t have to do everything yourself.”
Carter-Gray echoed that sentiment during her session by saying, “Build your dream team.” She explained that while she knows business concepts like taxes and insurance can be complicated, entrepreneurs don’t need to become experts in those subjects.
Instead, she advised the girls to build a core team that includes an insurance agent, lawyer, and an accountant. Having that support system helps entrepreneurs run their businesses with more confidence and less stress.
“You don’t have to do this all alone,” Carter-Gray added. “There are people out there who are going to help you along the way.”
Business ownership is a learning process
Every business is a work in progress—whether it’s an aspiring entrepreneur’s budding idea or an established company that’s been around for years.
That’s just one reason we appreciate these experts for sharing their hard-won knowledge with the participants of the Compton Girls Club BUSINESS G.IRL Incubator—and with us, too.
There’s always something new to learn in the world of business ownership, and we’re thrilled to learn from the best.
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