What are some of the biggest things you overlooked when starting your business? What did you wish you hadn't neglected (such as anticipated taxes or other expenses)? What activities did you do that you could have outsourced? What skills did you acquire the "hard way" that you would do differently now?
If I was going to start over, with a blank slate I would do several things differently.
1. I would hire an accountant and bookkeeper on day one. I know that on the surface it's easy to look at the cost of an accountant and justify spending those resources in other areas, however I have seen this play out horribly for a number of businesses (ours included.) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
2. I would make a list of all of my start up items, edit it and then edit it again. Start as lean as you can. We started our t-shirt company with basic equipment in my mom's attic and slowly moved into proper production space as we needed to, however we made the mistake of buying too much equipment early on because we thought we needed it. Get by with the bare minimum for as long as you can, get traction, customers and cash flow and then expand cautiously.
3. Don't listen to salespeople! Talk to friends, other businesses and look on the web for answers to common questions. Salespeople are great when you know what you need to buy, however often times you are going to end up wasting money that would be better spent in other places, like on your accountant.
4. Don't take on bad customers just to make a buck. If you are interested in knowing our 10 tell tale signs of bad customers, schedule a call with me and I'll run down the list. It will save you hours and it only takes a few minutes.
5. Find a team of advisors and listen to them. I wish I would have listened to advice that people were giving me for free when we first got started. There's an old saying, "if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in trouble." Find good council and listen.
Hope that's helpful, I've been a freelancer and small business owner for almost twenty years and enjoy coaching startups and entrepreneurs in getting their ventures off the ground. Feel free to schedule a call and I can help get you started.