ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog

January 15, 2019

Lessons Learned: What to Know When Starting a Small Business

Most entrepreneurs and business owners have at least one entry on their “Things I Wish I Had Known Before Starting My Business” list. Today’s blog post looks at some responses from business thought leaders as well as feedback on the topic from several of our very own ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Training Center directors.

The “Forbes Coaches Council” at Forbes magazine share their advice in the article, “10 Entrepreneurs Share Advice They Wish They Had Known Earlier”, including:

  • Practice Preparation: “Early in my career, I did a lot of things but I rarely prepared. This meant that I spent significant amounts of time doing the wrong things or ended up having to redo things. It has taken me a while, but learning how to prepare, and committing the time to do it, has transformed my results.”

  • Focus on Execution, Not Strategy: “Execution beats strategy every time. Choosing the right strategy is helpful, but you'll never know if it really works until you execute on it. Most delays in progress come from a lack of execution instead of a bad strategy. If you can't execute on it yourself, hire someone to help you do it.”

Or consider these from

  • Running the business is always the top priority: “Perhaps the biggest misconception about starting your own business is that you're only focused on chasing your passion...That's maybe going to consume 15% of your time. Instead, you're going to spend a bulk of your time on developing business strategies, marketing, selling, interacting with customers, and doing administrative tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing, and payroll. In short, you're a business owner first.”

  • Activity doesn't equal growth: “What do you consider growth? Is it all of the fancy features that you just added to your product? Is it the swanky new office or 20 new employees [or instructors]?...All of that is great. But it doesn't constitute growth. Growth means that you're building a product and adding customers. That's it.

Both of the above-referenced articles contained at least one talking point on a similar theme: the critical importance of networking, relationships, and mentoring. As puts it:

  • It's lonely: “Think about the jobs you've held down in the past, [where] there was a sense of community since you and your co-workers were all in it together. That's not the case when you start your own business. It's just you and you alone. Every decision and responsibility fall on your shoulders. And that's a heavy, lonesome burden to carry.”

    “Having a co-founder or business partner can lessen that burden and make the journey not as lonely, but if you're not in that position then you should build a safety net. It could be your spouse, family, best friend, or other business owners who are going through the same experience as you. You're going to need them for advice, emotional support, and the occasional venting session.”

So, too, from Forbes:

  • Don’t Fly Solo: “One piece of advice I wished I had learned earlier in my business career is to never fly solo. Always have at least one accountability buddy, master-mind group or mentor that is a higher level than you, so you are constantly challenging yourself to grow. These types of relationships are indispensable to keeping a leader sane.”

Providing a networking space for our Training Center directors and instructors to share ideas was a primary motivation for creating the ASHI and MEDIC First Aid newsletter’s “Customer Spotlight” feature. We offer a short survey you can submit to let your peers know what has, and hasn’t, worked for your training enterprise, whether you’re a for-profit TC (External) or in-house TC training employees in your organization (Internal). Our most popular question has been, “Based on what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself when you were starting out?”

Here are just a few of the responses:

  • Monica Staggs, ASHI, Arizona CPR Training and Certification, Tempe, AZ: Be consistent with my marketing

  • Charles Choc Harris, ASHI and MEDIC First Aid, Primary Safety and Health, Midland, TX: Plan and organize better

  • Abraham Olokor, ASHI and MEDIC First Aid, Abol Life Support Training Center, Nigeria: Get a financial partner

  • Brady McLaughlin, ASHI, Trio Safety CPR + AED, Birmingham, AL: Focus on building the internal systems and processes of the company early on so that growth can be sustained long term

  • Emily Garcia, ASHI, Show Me CPR and Personal Safety, Sullivan, MO: Develop a vision and mission statement, stay true to the reason that you became an instructor, and bring your passion with you every day, every class

We invite you to participate in our Spotlight feature! Click the appropriate button below to complete our brief survey and join the conversation.

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