Expert Roundup: The Advice Experts Wish They Had Been Told

Alayna Okerlund

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

Fist BumpThis is part two of our small business owner expert roundup series.

It's hard to avoid making mistakes when you're new to small business ownership. In part one of this series, small business owners explained what they think you should know before you start your business. Even though their responses may have answered some of your questions, there are probably things you still don't know simply because you lack experience.

We asked the experts what they wish someone had told them before they started their businesses.

Here's what they had to say.

You have to be tough, patient, and prepared

“Starting a new business is exciting, however getting it off the ground and sustainable is not. I wish someone had told me that having grit was essential to success. Grit is the driving force that is required to deal with and navigate the continuous obstacles that are part of the journey.” — V. Michael Santoro, Co-Founder of Vaetas, LLC

“Just because you provide a valuable service doesn't necessarily mean your business will thrive. You need to be very particular about how you spend the money you receive by providing your service or selling your product. If you can be frugal and provide a needed service/product, you have a good chance to run a profitable business.” — Patrick Wright, Senior Partner and Co-Founder of The Wright Firm, LLP
“I wish someone had told me the enormity of how you can never turn off your business. When you're new, you don't have the funds to delegate and you likely will want to control everything and that constant weight on your shoulders can take a toll on your physical and mental health.” — Denise Stern, CEO of Let Mommy Sleep
“That running a business is ALL about solving problems. They will never stop. Once I learned that lesson, I stopped feeling bad whenever there was a problem. Instead, I now know that's it's just part of the process.” — Fiona Adler, Founder of Actioned

“Having patience while making urgent decisions is a key to building a company that lasts.” — Stephen Alred, KnowCap IO

It can be worth it

“I wish someone told me how rewarding it could be. I have always been a skeptic, I’ve worked for large corporations and small businesses, and favored working in corporate. When you start your own business you really see that you have the chance to create something unique. Maybe the rewards of working for a big corporate company (vacation days/family leave) are something you can offer your own employees, creating a positive work environment. The fact that you can develop your own company culture is incredible.” — Emily Wood, CEO and Creative Director of Raise Vegan Inc.

Failure is normal and you need to be positive

“You’re going to fail, things aren’t going to work out, it’s your job to turn every loss into a win. You need to be mentally strong to be an entrepreneur. The market demand is constantly changing, and you have to change with it which means you have to be flexible.” — Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics
“Before starting my own business, I wish someone had told me to stay focused on the bigger picture. It's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day routine of running a small business, but you should always have your sights set on a bigger and brighter future for your company. It's incredibly important to continue to set aside time to plan for and activate on future goals, even when the business is doing well.” — Jhonn Thomassen, Owner of Marine Park Coffee
Work Meeting

Hire and surround yourself with the right people

“I wish someone would have told me to work to build a strong team from the beginning, and I wish they would’ve told me how to do it with no capital. I didn’t have money to hire talent so, naturally, I used my friends and while they are amazing people, incredibly smart and talented in their own right, I really needed people with experience within beauty and/or retail. As a business owner, your growth trajectory is largely dictated by the other people you have to lean on, strategize with, and leverage.” — Melissa Butler, Founder and CEO of The Lip Bar
“Look hard at your personal strengths and weaknesses. If you have specific strengths and weaknesses, then hire people that complement those skills in order to maximize your staff.” — Walt Capell, President and Owner of Workers Compensation 
“I wish someone would have told me that it is okay to delegate the unfamiliar tasks of running a business. We need others to provide us with their expertise.” — Jen Teague, Owner of Jen Teague, LLC

“Your circle of influence can help or destroy you, there is no middle term. Leaving an open mind to the negative influence of other people is the most common weakness of new entrepreneurs. Inadequate influence choices lead to the reasons why entrepreneurs give up earlier.” — Sophie Miles, CEO and Co-Founder of

Know what your people actually want

“Don't underestimate the need to truly connect with and understand the customer's wants and needs. This leads to an inability to market and attract enough business to be sustainable. Without a unique business proposition that differentiates you from the rest, you may have a decent product but will never differentiate from others in the same space unless you carve out that niche.” — Brock Blake, CEO and Founder of Lendio
“I wish I would've been told: Be sure there is a demand for what you're selling and find proof; don't trick yourself into thinking what you offer will be bought like hotcakes.” — Andy Curry, Owner of
“I wish someone would have asked me: 'Will your customer choose this product FIRST?' There are two concepts within this question. First, small businesses need to address how they will market and distribute their product/service so that it even has a chance of being chosen by your customer. Remember, you’re a small business and without tackling this issue, your product will never get into your customer’s hands. The second concept is that small businesses must differentiate their products in an attractive way when a customer chooses you. Your product must meet a need at an attractive price point that beats the competition. By choosing your product, customers must find it easy to use and of sufficient quality for the price to give it a try.” — Kelly Bedrich, Co-Founder of

Open SignStay on top of the numbers

“Keep track of all the numbers! Numbers are your friend. Use numbers to track expenses, sales, teams with the most positive feedback from customers, where the customers found you... Use numbers to track everything so you can know the best course of action going forward. This is invaluable!” — Greg Shepard, Owner of Dallas Maids
“That professional accounting programs and services are worth the money. There are so many things you can do yourself to economize or remain connected to the business. The financial aspects can be tricky and having a pro or a system to guide you can save innumerable headaches and distractions from your core mission.” — Gary Romano, President and CEO of Civitas Strategies, LLC

Originality doesn't guarantee success

“The execution is far more important than the idea. Aspiring entrepreneurs always obsess over finding that one unique idea that no other person in the world has thought of. While that could work, a completely original idea is not necessary towards starting a successful company. Just think about it. There are new restaurants opening up all the time that end up being extremely successful, yet the concept is as old as time itself.” — Peter Yang, Co-Founder and CEO of Resume Writing Services
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