This month marks a year that I went into business for myself full time. I’ve learned a lot about owning a business in that time.

This is my 9th business. Our other 8 businesses failed for various reasons, and as a result, we learned a lot of useful (if not expensive) lessons. Finally having a successful business, however has brought some of its own valuable lessons.

Here are 4 lessons I’ve learned over the past year.

1. Some clients take months to pay you.

If you’re going to start a business — especially a B2B business — don’t depend on all clients paying you immediately. Some of my clients have taken months to pay me. I’ve never had a delinquent account, but some do take a while. Be prepared to either live on very little some months or make sure you have reserves set aside.

2. Some clients take months to sign up.

While some companies are quick to sign on as clients as soon as I meet with them, others take their time. Never depend on potential clients as a source of income until you’ve actually done work for them and billed them.

3. Some clients require reminders.

People are busy, and this is quite apparent when your business provides services (rather than products) for other businesses. Whether is getting approval on a final draft, getting a payment on an invoice, or asking for feedback on another project, some of your time will be spent trying to track down clients. If you don’t have patience, you may not be cut out to be a business owner.

4. It’s hard work getting clients.

Sending out a mass email to all your contacts will provide relatively little business. Buying advertising space for B2B services will provide relatively little business. Don’t expect all your advertising efforts and money to result in new business. Some of it will see like a waste. If you aren’t good at sales, you’re going to have quite a go of making your business work.

If you’re thinking of starting a business, I hope you’ve found this useful. If you already own a business, what are some lessons you’ve learned?

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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