It may sound strange coming from a “business insider,” but I wish I had more business education before I started my business. I have always been good at hustling and sales. Even way back in elementary school, I would buy mangoes at the market or bring in my grandmother’s baked goods and sell them for a huge profit margin.
However, I studied physical therapy in college, and my career was in physical therapy and personal training before I founded Tasty Clouds. When I decided to start my business, I was still hustling and doing things on the fly, and it was a bit of trial by fire to master key concepts like organizational structure, sales and marketing, and managing customer relationships.
Trademark and Intellectual Property Laws
Another thing I wish I knew before I started my business was the importance of trademark and intellectual property laws. Your brand is everything, and it needs to be protected. If you don’t properly protect things like your business name, product names, logos and marketing materials, you’ll have a tough time taking action when someone comes along and steals them from you. Unfortunately, we’ve had to deal with this many times already; once you get your name out there and start to become any sort of recognisable, someone WILL try to copy or steal your ideas. Protect yourself and your business.
Human Resources 101
Like many entrepreneurs, early on I fell into the classic trap of trying to do everything myself, because no one knew my business like I did. Once things really started taking off, I learned quickly that not only is this completely self-sufficient mentality unsustainable, it’s also impossible.
Yet when I came to hire people, I quickly learned that it’s not just about hiring help, it’s about defining specific roles in your company and finding the right people to fill those roles. Not only do they have to be qualified to fill the position—or at least qualified enough to be trained quickly—but they also have to gel with the rest of the team in order to maintain a positive work environment. Don’t waste time with someone who isn’t working out either; “slow to hire, quick to fire” is the adage to keep in mind when building your team. Find the right set of people to elevate your business to the next level.
Nina Rodecker is the CEO and founder of Tasty Clouds, the catered cotton candy company that has turned into the must-have item at birthdays, weddings, star-studded galas and more. Rodecker took the top spot in Startup Nation’s 2010 Leading mums in Business Competition, and ranked #1 overall in the 2009 Top Home Based Business Competition.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organisation comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
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