19 Lessons Every New Entrepreneur Should Embrace Before Starting A Business

Aspiring entrepreneurs have a myriad of books, podcasts, articles and more that all promise to prepare them to take the leap to start their own businesses. However, experience can sometimes be the best teacher of all.

While different business media may offer valuable insights into what it takes to launch your own business, many seasoned entrepreneurs would agree that their experiences have taught them valuable lessons they continue to draw on today. Below, 19 Forbes Business Council members each reveal one important lesson they’ve learned from experience that every new entrepreneur should know before starting their business.

1. Focus On What You Want To Accomplish

Focus. Define what you are setting out to accomplish and don’t waiver. Do anything you can to support your goals, but don’t chase rabbits or listen to the good idea fairy. Be relentless in your pursuit of your goal by automating tasks when possible to accelerate progress. Make it easier for your clients to give you their money. – Joe Crandall, Greencastle Associates Consulting

2. Adjust For A Reasonable Margin Of Error

I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs starting out to underestimate revenue by at least 50% and overestimate costs by that same percentage for a reasonable margin of error. Consider that seeing traction, growth, development and outcomes, like everything else in the corporate world, will take longer than expected. Aspiring leaders should be patient when it comes to new endeavors. – John Erwin, Carenet Health


Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?


3. Start Working With A Mentor

One thing I wish I had done before starting my business was get a mentor. Although I learned valuable lessons through trial and error, having a mentor would have saved me years of struggle and accelerated my business growth, allowing me to make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes. It would have also provided me with a foundation to navigate entrepreneurship more effectively. – Neena Pandey, The String Code and Indie Roots

4. Accept Clients Who Are The Right Fit

When I was starting, I accepted any clients instead of right fit clients. I wasted time and money by serving anyone willing to pay for my products and services. My mentor calls this being the seller instead of the buyer. Today, I only choose to work with the clients I want to serve. I’ve now become the buyer, not the seller. – Kary Oberbrunner, Igniting Souls

5. Understand The Playing Field And Competition

Building a business is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of a lifetime. However, there are many additional people building products and services in the same industry as you. Before you embark on your journey, understand the playing field and the competition as if they’re your classmates and friends. That way, you’ll be able to identify yourself in your market! – Christian Brown, Glewee

6. Enjoy Some Downtime

I wish I’d taken a vacation before getting started. Founding a company always takes longer than you think it will and as much as you might believe you’re prepared for the early days, you never really are. Enjoy some downtime while you can! – James Clift, Durable

7. Understand The ‘Rule Of Five’

Understanding the “Rule of Five” when going global is important. It will take five times more effort, time and money to make your global expansion a success. Understanding local laws, culture, infrastructure and work practices is just the beginning of your expansion journey. – Anna Stella, BBSA

8. Surround Yourself With People You Trust

Surround yourself with people whose judgment you trust and who will let you know when one of your ideas isn’t viable, practical or affordable. This team of wise men and women will help you to make good ideas better and squash bad ideas in their tracks. – Dr. David Lenihan, Tiber Health

9. Connect With Current Business Leaders

In choosing his college major, my son noted that teachers share what they learned and mastered, which means it’s already dated in a world that keeps changing. He chose core majors (e.g., math and philosophy) and spent time learning about solutions business people now use. The lesson for me was to start connecting with as early as possible business leaders whose experiences are current and growing. – Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly

10. Be Willing To Ask For More And Learn From Others

Being less hesitant to ask for more from bankers is one thing I would have done sooner. Meeting the amount of outlays for products before deliveries was heavy, but the experience was great for me. I also read books, articles and more as a way to gain an inside look at the way others faced their pain points, overcame their problems and endured. Reading for experience helps. – Paul L. Gunn, Jr., KUOG Corporation

11. Create A Solid, Structured Business Plan

Initially, I relied on my determination, hard work and passion for my field to drive my firm’s growth. While these qualities are essential, a solid business plan provides a more structured approach and a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. – Elizabeth A. Douglas, Esq., Douglas Family Law Group

12. Get To It

I had all the experience I needed when I opened my latest business. My recommendation for aspiring entrepreneurs is simply, “Get to it!” Don’t waste time with advanced research, and don’t overanalyze. There is no better teacher than practical business experience. Every new client or customer presents a new opportunity to learn and improve! – ‘Smitty’ Robert J. Smith, Robert J. Smith Productions

13. Examine The Consequences Of Your Choices

There are many choices in life and each choice has a consequence. It’s not that I regret the choices I made. Sometimes the choice you took was forced upon you by circumstances beyond your control, or it was the only choice available to you. I just wish though that I had taken more time to examine the consequences of my choices and the impact of those choices on my future self. – Zain Jaffer, Zain Ventures

14. Spend Time On A Growth Plan

I wish we spent more time on a growth plan, thinking up to 10 years out. While much of entrepreneurship is making moves at the moment and it always will be, if long-term planning is not considered, it can set the business up with processes and/or a structure that don’t actually work with realized growth. – Melanie Ammerman, VaVa Virtual Assistants

15. Think Like A CEO

Think like you’re the CEO of your business. Many of us start businesses with a “do it all” mentality, and from the onset, the lack of support hinders our ability to think strategically and to hold the right conversations with potential clients and network. Surround yourself with the right support team so you’re able to focus on strategic direction and influencing others to get the results you want. – Loubna Noureddin, Mind Market

16. Gain Industry Experience

A common piece of advice from successful entrepreneurs is to gain as much relevant industry experience as possible before starting a business. This is because industry experience can provide a clearer understanding of the market, consumer needs and potential challenges in the sector. It can also help in building a network of contacts who can support you in your entrepreneurial journey. – Nikhil Maini, OKR International

17. Conduct Market Research

One crucial step I wish I had taken before starting my business is conducting thorough market research. It helps understand the audience, competitors, demand and trends. Neglecting it risks entering saturated markets or failing to meet customer needs. Prioritize market research for a successful business. – Kellie Rastegar, Rastegar Property Company

18. Define The Product And Forge A Roadmap

Defining the product, from purpose to valuation, will create a clear roadmap for development, marketing and customer journeys. I would allocate a budget for everything and follow accordingly. I also would define clear metrics to assess the performance and make early decisions based on those metrics. – Raj Maddula, Global Squirrels

19. Start The Delegation Process

I wish I had started to delegate sooner. Initially, you may need to perform almost all of the hard work, but eventually, you will have to let go of a lot of that in order to focus on what you do best: growing your business. Delegating may be hard because we often believe that only we can do things well. This is not true; we simply need to select the proper people, train and trust them. – Raquel Gomes, Stafi