by sonja thorsvik

What I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Own Business

If you’re thinking about starting a business, let me be the first to say congrats on this life-changing venture you’re about to dive into! I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 10 years, and I STILL learn new things every single day about efficiency, productivity, capacity, strategy, and so. much. more. 

I started my first business at 24—a photography business—and then another at 26, and another at 29. Long before ever initiating my own business endeavors, though, I felt this strong pull toward entrepreneurial life for all that it promised: freedom, flexibility, creativity, and innovation. You likely have the same desires stitched in you, and so, if you’re ready to make the jump to launching your own gig, I want to share the top 6 things I wish I knew before ever starting any business of my own.

01. Asking For Help Is Imperative

Swallowing your pride (aka, realizing you don’t have to do it all on your own) and asking for support isn’t just important. It’s necessary to build a business that you’re proud of, and that doesn’t run you into the ground.

Bringing in help works almost 100% of the time. Meaning: Even if it feels like you’re “giving up” control or not handling all the moving parts like you wanted to be able to… sometimes it’s more important to just have more brain power and helping hands to get things done than it is for YOU to be the one doing it all.

It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, the strongest people (and entrepreneurs) I know realize their shortcomings and where they need support. The sooner you can find those holes and bring in extra help, the better.

02. Your Loved Ones Will Probably Have No Clue What You Do

Just don’t even bother working on your most simplified explanation (the elevator pitch) of what you do, and how and why you do it, when it comes to family and friends. And prepare yourself for all the, “So, how do you even make money doing that?” type of questions. (Mostly, prepare to laugh them off and understand they’re usually coming from a good place.)

Most online businesses specifically are multifaceted, and most entrepreneurs HAVE to wear many hats. So, it’s no wonder our loved ones are scratching their heads, wondering how we really fill our days. You just let them keep wondering while you keep your head down working toward the things that matter (like, your bottom line).

03. Entrepreneurship Can Be Lonely At Times

Speaking of people not getting what you do… Entrepreneurship has its moments of loneliness, for SURE. Especially at first, when it’s just little ol’ you making things run full steam ahead, you may find yourself tending to self-isolate. After all, it’s up to YOU to make this thing work. You need to put in the hustle…

But don’t listen to that voice that says your business matters more than your relationships. It’s a trap! At the end of the day, we all need outside voices we trust and people we enjoy being around to destress and decompress.

You can’t work 24/7 or spend all your time alone and expect yourself to sustain a healthy business or personal life. Make time to fuel your relationships and connect with people you love, even if it’s just reaching out with a text to a friend a few days a week.

04. Your Joy & Success Will Be Defined By A New Marker

The very fact that YOU have built something out of nothing is enough to fuel your days and introduce an entirely new version of joy and success. It may also introduce a new level of pressure… but that’s a part of the game of entrepreneurship.

It’s a balance between pushing yourself to the next level, but not pushing yourself too hard that you burn yourself out and end up crushing your momentum. Let your success drive you, but don’t let it take over your life as the only important factor.

05. It’s Okay To Say No

I get it, you want to take on all the opportunities you can, especially in those first few months. But saying no to clients or opportunities that aren’t the right fit—yep, even if you need the money—will keep you clear and open to take on the things that are perfect for you.

There is power in saying no. It means you’re clear on who you serve, what you offer, and how you provide excellent service. Practice saying no graciously anytime someone or something isn’t the right fit. Trust me, you’ll know when to say yes when those perfect opportunities do come along. And you’ll be so grateful you saved the capacity to be able to say yes.

06. SAVE. And Save Some More (For Quarterly Taxes, Especially).

Seriously. Save your money. Save for taxes (a ~fun~ surprise of entrepreneurship is that no corporation is taking money out of your biweekly paychecks for Mr. IRS anymore). Save for your retirement (yup, no more 401K, either). Save for unexpected expenses…

All too often I hear of new business owners getting totally sideswiped when April 15 comes around and they realize they should’ve been putting aside a hefty portion of all those business transactions they made the previous year. It may not be sexy, but saving your money and planning for taxes will save you from so much stress and strife down the line.

And quarterly tax payments? Those are a thing now. Pay attention to them.

If you’re not sure how much to save or where to start, find a small business accountant to help you out. I promise it’s worth every cent, and you won’t be kicking yourself later on if you prepare now.

(On that note, keep taxes and savings in mind when you’re setting your prices, too! If you want your take-home pay to be a certain amount, always tack on at least 20% to 40% more to your pricing so that you can account for putting that much aside for taxes, investments, and savings.)




I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

foUNDER of gigging for gold
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