Five important things I learnt in the first two years of running my own business

Young asian woman talking on the phone, female entrepreneur, running a business

Article by Jessica Smith, co-founder and CXO at healthtech and biotech communications agency, SomX

In 2020, in the midst of lockdown and with a new puppy in tow, I made the terrifying decision to leave my full-time public relations job in order to co-launch a brand new business.

The months that followed were harder work, more challenging and more rewarding than I’d ever imagined they could be. Many tears were shed on more than one occasion, and to call the experience a steep learning curve would certainly be an understatement!

Without a doubt, it was worth the sleepless nights, and when I look back on the past two years, I couldn’t be prouder of everything SomX has achieved – and continues to achieve. However, I fully believe in the concept of sharing your wins, failures and lessons so that others can reap the benefits too. So, in that spirit, here are the 5 most important lessons I’ve learnt on my founder journey so far:

Choose your cofounder extremely carefully

Building a business from scratch is lonely and hard. Opting to do this with a co-founder can lessen the weight on your own shoulders and enrich your business no end – but only if you pick the right person. The ideal co-founder is someone who’s skill set complements yours rather than matching it, so you can divide up the work in a way that naturally plays to your strengths – having defined and distinct roles is vital. They must be a person you can trust completely, who shares your vision, and with whom you can communicate honestly and openly.

Don’t shy away from tough decisions

It’s important to accept from Day 1 that you’re not going to be able to keep everyone happy all of the time. You might even have to make decisions that some people don’t like, whether that be letting a member of staff go or totally shaking up your internal processes. But making these decisions is a founder’s job – putting the interests of your business first is an essential survival tactic in the early stages.

If you listen to your conscience and always do what feel right, the tough decisions will pay off dividends further down the line.

Your team are your most valuable asset and your biggest responsibility

I cannot stress enough how important every person is in a small business, so you need to find a way to make sure that you’re bringing the best people on board who believe in what you’re trying to achieve. Think carefully about how you can support your team to grow and flourish in their role, and make sure you’re earnestly looking for new ways to help them develop their potential.

You need to be your own biggest cheerleader

When you’re the founder of a company, you are the person that everyone else looks to for advice and praise. But that means you often find yourself looking around for the “adult in the room” when you need reassurance, advice or praise! Working with a mentor can be really valuable if you are looking for objective opinions, but for the majority of the time you need to build up the confidence to back yourself and trust your gut. Alongside this, be your own biggest hype woman by always remembering to say ‘well done’ to yourself after every win, and by taking time to reflect on the things you’re achieved.

Nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems

When you’re on the startup founder rollercoaster, you’ll race between euphoric highs and painful lows. But these emotional reactions rarely reflect the business reality – the true state of affairs will always remain somewhere in the middle. If you keep this in the back of your mind, you’ll remember not to make any rash decisions whilst in the throes of these emotional extremes. By all means enjoy the moments of joy, but give yourself time and space to recalibrate before you act.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that my lessons help guide you along the path to success as you begin your own founder journey.

About the author

Jessica SmithJessica Smith is co-founder and CXO at SomX, the UK’s leading healthtech and biotech communications agency. Having previously been an Associate Director at global agency FleishmanHillard, Jessica has broad experience in healthcare communications across NHS, corporate, charity, healthtech and pharma industry clients.

Connect with Jessica on LinkedIn or send her an email at: [email protected]

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