About.com invited entrepreneurs to reveal what made their small businesses unique and the lessons they'd learned (the hard way) as a result of being in business. Eight-five business owners responded with profiles of their companies, heart-felt stories of years of struggle before important breakthroughs, and solid pointers for everyone looking to make it in their own business. Here are some great lessons from people who have been there and done that.
1. Regardless of how brilliant or sophisticated the strategy, it has little value if not adopted and implemented.
2. Creativity is enabled at the intersection of Freedom and Passion streets.
3. More time spent in user testing could have saved us time in the long run, because it would have allowed us to catch our mistakes and get ahead of them. Haste makes waste.
4. I'm a big supporter of failure. I truly believe that success doesn't happen without it. If you're not failing, you're not doing anything.
5. Every time the day to day stress of operating a business gets to me a little, I realize how wonderful it is to be a part of one of the most important days of [customers'] lives.
6. I wish I would have learned early on to let go of some responsibilities and delegate better to others.
7. Never have a "Plan B" to fall back on.
8. Building a business is a lonely process.
9. Perform a brutally honest self-assessment: It is so important for an entrepreneur to evaluate her skill set compared to the skills necessary to build the business.
10. Take care of yourself: The business does not survive without the entrepreneur.
11. I really thought I could make do with very little, and I did, but I could have saved myself a lot of money in the long run if I had $5,000 to start my business instead of the $200 that I started with.
13. Hire an attorney to trademark your name properly.
14. Hire a good business/intellectual property attorney. I didn't at first and it ended up costing me in the long run.
15. Get good, sound financial and business advice from experienced business people.
16. I've been going to SCORE since I started my business and continue to do so.