15 Aspects Of Running A Business Entrepreneurs Wish They Had Understood Better

Expert Panel® Forbes Coaches Council

Entrepreneurs usually have a hand in every aspect of their businesses, from marketing and sales to financing and networking. Although a new entrepreneur may have a great idea and the drive to deliver it to customers, it’s virtually impossible to understand all that comes along with owning a business until they live it in real time.

The members of Forbes Coaches Council often work with clients who either are or would like to become entrepreneurs, so they have a unique perspective on the areas where newer business owners typically need a little extra help getting a handle on after they launch their companies. Below, 15 members share some aspects of entrepreneurship that newbies might not understand as well as they thought they did, and why it’s so important to master these specific skills.

Featured members share aspects of running a business entrepreneurs wish they understood better.
Forbes Coaches Council members share aspects of running a business that entrepreneurs wish they had understood better.

1. Needing To Overcome Bad 9-To-5 Habits

Bad habits follow you from your 9-to-5 job into your business. Often, new business owners will inadvertently approach their business with the same set of habits—both good and bad—they developed during their 9-to-5 lives. This may cause new business owners to undervalue themselves, lack consistent boundaries, overpromise and push themselves into burnout. – Alyssa Adams, Alyssa Adams Coaching

2. Working On The Business Rather Than In It

In his fabulous book The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber talks about the difference between the entrepreneur, the manager and the technician. Most people who start a business are technicians at heart. They want to work in the business rather than on it. I share Michael’s view. Being a great entrepreneur is not about starting a business—it is about systemizing a business. That is a rare skill indeed. – John Blakey, The Trusted Executive

3. Understanding How Cash Flows

Every entrepreneur must understand how cash moves through the business. The velocity of cash measures the time it takes for money paid to manufacture and distribute a product to be returned in cash by customers—studying and changing cash dynamics can make a profound difference in improving operating agility and building reserves for a “rainy day.” – Ben Levitan, Cedalion Partners

4. Marketing Your Product Or Service

You may have a great product or a great service, but if no one knows about it, it’s not going to sell! Marketing a service or product is a specific area where new entrepreneurs or business owners often come undone. Being able to tell a story about what you are selling and ensuring that you evoke an emotion in your ideal customer are just a couple of key areas of marketing that need to be understood. – Dr. Rakish Rana, The Clear Coach

5. Maintaining A Minimum Amount Of Cash

You don’t need a lot of cash, but you do need a minimum amount of cash. Cash is the blood of your business. Covid showed us that if you had no cash, you had very little or no time to change to adapt to a new situation. Apart from this solid financial foundation, you need to demonstrate you know what you are talking about and that you can deliver on your promise. Self-confidence and clarity are key. – Julien Fortuit, Julien Fortuit Agency

6. Prioritizing The Customer’s Need

Understanding a customer’s need is one of the least understood and least focused areas, while it is the single most important aspect of building a sound business proposition. Many new entrepreneurs get wedded to the ideas buzzing in their heads and create a solution that they hope will solve a need. The research, if they conduct it, is biased and only confirms what they believe is right. – Sandeep Jain, Value-Unlocked Private Limited

7. Managing The Day-To-Day Details

Entrepreneurs often have big ideas but lack the ability to execute the details that can actualize those dreams. Know your strengths, and outsource support when it comes to managing operations and logistics, from filing documents to establishing invoicing processes to managing a digital presence—the list goes on and on. A successful business depends on managing the details. – April Willis, April Willis Consulting, LLC

8. Becoming A Product Manager

When you become an entrepreneur, you play a lot of roles. Most importantly, you become a project manager. The way you run your business can make or break your success. You need a project management system, automated lead generation and nurturing. You can’t do it all, but you can do a lot with the right software and organization! – Kelly Conley Jefferson, The Spoiled Coach

9. Knowing How To Sell

Too many entrepreneurs and business owners start a business without knowing how to sell. In fact, some expect they won’t ever have to be involved in sales! The reality is that sales is the lifeblood of every business and as the owner, you’ll need to be involved in sales, particularly in the early days. – Shawn Casemore, Casemore and Co. Inc.

10. Mastering Financial Planning

New business owners do not understand how financial planning can make or break a business. They say things such as, “I just need the revenue to create the opportunities and choices I need to make,” so they focus almost solely on business development work. As important as that is, knowing what you will do with the high and low tides by having a clear plan will allow you peace of mind as you work toward your goals. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

11. Leading A High-Performing Team

I have coached business owners who were pioneers with their strategic thinking, although when it came time to communicate their vision and lead their team to execution, there was a struggle with less experience in qualitative skill sets. Ensure you prepare as a leader on how to effectively communicate, delegate and inspire decision making to drive results. – Bryan Powell, Crown Castle I Executive Coaching Space

12. Developing Systems For Optimal Workflow

New business owners don’t understand the value of systems for optimal workflow and effectiveness. Entrepreneurs are often so busy putting out daily “fires” that they end up making Band-Aid decisions. A quick-fix approach rarely builds a path for successful long-term solutions. It may seem frustrating to step back, slow down and create a system; however, it ultimately pays dividends in time, energy and money while also reducing stress. – Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.

13. Taking On A Leadership Role

In the pro services space, a lot of people who start businesses were technical experts in their field before they became an entrepreneur. Almost none of them formally studied leadership. Yet, the most important part of being an entrepreneur is being a leader. This means they’re drinking from the firehose to learn those lessons in real time. It’s very challenging. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

14. Getting Grounded And Tuning In

Many entrepreneurs fail to understand the importance of taking time each day to get grounded and tune in to their own inner guidance. When we step into anything new or different, the natural tendency is to get busy doing as much as we can to progress successfully. Yet, we tend to get better results when those actions feel aligned because we experience more ease and can make even better decisions. – Vered Kogan, Momentum Institute

15. Building Relationships And A Network

Many entrepreneurs don’t understand the power of building relationships and having a network. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, and not only can you find solace with people in similar situations when things get tough, but building relationships also allows you to get referrals and do collaborations, and it opens so many doors for the growth of your business. – Lauren Najar, Lauren Najar Coaching LLC