Things I Learned My First Year in Business

by Alicia Arenas on June 30, 2009

Alicia-16 - with borderNot too long ago, I celebrated the anniversary of my first year as a business owner. I have been in the business world for many years, but this was a celebration of my independence, an affirmation that I have what it takes to do it on my own.

My first year was a tough one. My husband and I didn’t come from entrepreneurial families and at the time, we did not have entrepreneurial friends. So most of the lessons I learned, I learned the hard way.

As I was reflecting back on the last 12 months, I decided to capture some of the most profound things I learned and I wrote them down. My hope in sharing them is that you will be inspired and that these simple truths will help you get closer to your dream of being a successful business owner.  And if you have things to help inspire the entrepreneurial community, please add a comment.

Things I Learned My First Year in Business – Part 1

1. In your first year of business, you will learn more about yourself than you will learn about business.

2. In your first year of business, your marriage will be tested; but if it is strong, it will get stronger.

3. There is no room for fear of the unknown when you have your own business. Shine a bright light, courageously face the darkness of the unknown and you will find things are not so scary anymore.

4. People will disrespect you and take advantage of you as much as you let them. You are in charge of how people treat you.

5. Your commitment to your ethics and values will be challenged. You’ll be confronted with numerous opportunities to relax them for seemingly “good” or justifiable reasons. Decide now which values you will never compromise and stand firm.

6. When you create an adequate financial cushion for you and your family, you will survive the times in the desert. But more importantly, that cushion will allow you to focus on what is most important in your business – bringing value to your customers vs. making a sale. (Dave Ramsey gives great financial advice about living debt free.)

7. Giving is better than receiving.

8. If you give away everything, you will not be able to stay in business.

9. There will always be someone smarter and wiser than you, but don’t let that stop you – someone, somewhere needs to hear what you know, right now.

10. Many sincere people with good intentions will give you advice, but that doesn’t mean they are right. Trust yourself and trust your gut.

11. You don’t have to join BNI to find people who believe in “givers gain.”

12. Discounting prices to build your business cheapens your perception in the marketplace. You are worth what you are charging and you probably need to charge more.

13. These people are important for you to find: an attorney, a CPA and someone who will tell you the truth – whether you want to hear it or not.

14. You will always receive that for which you never ask.

15. When you are doing what it is that you are put on this earth to do – there is no greater sense of fulfillment or reward.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lois Melbourne June 30, 2009 at 8:05 pm

These are all great lessons learned and are still applicable 15 years later! Trust me :-) Congratulations on the progress and success.


Sush Parmar June 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Very Inspiring Alicia! Great going ! :) Its good to hear your story. Ive been an entrepreneur since I was 18 and haven’t worked a “job” for more than a year, at a time, since then ! :) Yay ! for independence!!!


Nora Frost July 1, 2009 at 11:37 am

Congratulations! First year veteran as well. Everybody talks about the financial adjustment, but for me, the emotional adjustment was the biggest surprise. Reason no. 15 is my heart! Wishing you much more greatness to come.


aliciasanera July 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Congratulations to you too Nora! It’s a huge milestone isn’t it! There is no greater feeling than knowing you are doing what you are supposed to be doing with your life. That is my mission too – to help people get there and experience the fulfillment you and I have. Thanks for the comment!


Anita Santiago July 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Great advice and inspiration. I think the prospect of going into business is more appealing to more people because of the economy. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.


aliciasanera July 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I’m glad Anita. Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, but I truly believe this is the BEST time for people to start a business. The big guys who have made bad financial decisions aren’t able to make it. And, the American people are incredibly untrusting of coporations now. This opens the doors for small business owners to succeed. Go for it!


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