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If you could change one thing that happened with your company in 2014, what would it be and why?
I’ll never forget the first client I ever got as my own boss. Hearing that yes and having that validation was exhilarating. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that just because it feels good for someone to be interested in what you’re offering, not every match is a perfect one. When every client counts, make sure you have the prudence to pick the best ones possible. — Brian Honigman, BrianHonigman.com
We waited till late to raise capital, almost too late. Luckily we raised it, but we should have gone for it a lot earlier. If I could advise any person out there that’s holding off from raising capital, I’d say to plan on double to triple the amount of time you’re estimating. — Murray Newlands, Influence People
Only in Q4 planning did I feel like we hit our stride in terms of setting goals and executing against them. In the first three quarters, our planning process was lacking. Because of that, we didn’t stay focused and began pursuing opportunities that we didn’t have the resources to fully complete. One of my personal goals for Q4 was to create a better annual and quarterly planning process for 2015. — Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Inc.
4. Releasing rankings too late
We just released the most comprehensive K-12 rankings in the U.S., they are doing incredibly. I wish we would have released them even earlier in the year. — Luke Skurman, Niche.com
5. Under-allocating our marketing budget
We way under-allocated for branding and marketing. As an entrepreneur creating a new solution, it’s easy to assume that you won’t need to allocate a ton to marketing and branding until you’re already taking off. This assumption is so wrong. Invest big in creating the right brand direction at the beginning, and make sure you have ample funds to market your solution/story. — Carlo Cisco, SELECT
When I had my first major round of hiring, I picked up an all-star team from another company. But word to the wise; if they’ll leave their company for you, they’ll leave you for another company. Make sure that your employees are as passionate about your vision as you are. Create a family within your business, and take care of each other. — Ranan Lachman, Pley
7. Not organizing our financials
2014 was great in terms of growth, but our financials were a mess. The person in charge made mistakes, and it led to a huge cash flow crunch. It’s my fault because I wasn’t paying attention. It was a hard lesson for me, and I learned the hard way to pay attention to details, trust people but check anyway, and as a leader I can’t just ignore (or run away) from the tougher parts of running a business. — Mona Patel, Motivate Design
8. Taking a break when raising capital
At the beginning of the year, we had some cushion in the bank account and made the mistake of taking a break on raising capital. I should have been way more active in pitching my startup and raising money all year. Now I’m rushing around all over the place trying to get funding to keep the lights on. — Justin Boggs, OfferSavvy
We grew tremendously this year, and with that growth we lost sight of some of the fundamentals that make our business so successful. While we were growing in certain areas, others suffered. If we would have been levelheaded, we would have seen even bigger growth all around. — Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.
10. Not harnessing the power of positive PR
Our facility underwent a complete makeover this year and the results were astounding. One lesson we learned was the need for embracing the power of PR. The one thing we would have done differently would be to have put more power behind our PR strategies to spread the word about these renovations. Positive PR is something you can’t put a price tag on — that’s our lesson! — Mark Salamon, Gold Crest Care Center