Six Super Insights for Starting and Expanding Your Small Business


By Andy Smith


When most people launch a new business, they thoroughly understand their product or service, but don’t always grasp other essential aspects of making it a success. 

“If they’re a life coach, for example, they may have all the training, but they don’t know how to find clients, or understand invoicing—the business side of what they do,” says Alex Mitchell, a New York-based strategic business development consultant.

Mitchell identifies three major challenges new business owners face.

  1. Pricing. It seems simple, but “money scares people and many don’t want to seem greedy.” So they seldom launch a business charging an appropriate amount for their services, frequently failing to factor in expanses like travel time, fuel and the physical effort that goes into a practice, like massage therapy, for example. “You’re not being greedy to price your business appropriately.”
  1. Establishing a Confident Mindset. “So many people have ‘imposter syndrome,’ which results in a lack of confidence in selling themselves. You need to become a little dispassion when you’re selling your product or service. Develop some personal distance.”
  1. Paralyzing Overwhelm. Sometimes, when you have so much to do, you can’t achieve anything. “Overwhelm builds up, it’s an emotion. Business owners have 10,000 thoughts a day and so many try to keep everything in their heads,” Mitchell says. “You have to take that overwhelm and put it on a piece of paper. Turn it into an organized list.”

20/20 Hindsight From an Experienced Entrepreneur

Based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C.-area, photographer Dorie Howell runs a portrait studio and an educational coaching company. She recently sold her share in a successful business. “In 2016, I had the idea to start an education site for photographers because I could see that so many were not running their businesses in a profitable way,” Howell says.  “It was started out of a very popular Facebook group that was growing tremendously at that time.  I had a business partner and together we built this membership site to almost seven figures.”

Though she never lacked the confidence to pursue new clients and bill properly, Howell admits that by jumping in feet first, she learned a few painful lessons along the way, including:

  1. Track Your Numbers! Even if your business is successful from the start, don’t “get fat and happy,” Howell says. “Looking back, I can see where my business was hemorrhaging money. Even if you have a bookkeeper or accountant, it’s important that you (the business owner) understand your spending and study your P&L sheets. As the person responsible for the business you need to know what’s working and what isn’t.”
  1. Let Go. By nature, business owners want to control things, but often trying to do everything becomes a major problem. “When you launch a business, most folks have to do almost everything, including tasks they either hate or aren’t good at. However, as your business grows, learn when to let go of responsibilities,” Howell emphasizes. “You’ve got to put your ego aside. That took me a long time to learn.” 
  1. Add More Staff Before You’re Completely Overwhelmed. The photography coach recommends that founders not wait until they’re working 18-hour days (like she was) to add more full- or part-time staff.  “You have to realize what hiring is going to do to free you up professionally and personally. Sometimes it’s not the monetary investment, it’s the mental load a new employee can take off of you,” she says.