Small business owners reveal Top 30 things they wish they’d known

Small business owners have revealed the things they wish they’d known before starting out, including the importance of being patient – and being prepared to sacrifice their personal life!

Research of 500 UK SME owners also revealed they would have liked to have appreciated how important sales and marketing is, as well as how much paperwork there will be.

More than one in five (22 per cent) wished they’d known how difficult it would be while for those considering starting their own business, advice included not being too downhearted if success isn’t immediate – and not trying everything themselves. 

Other tips included trusting your own judgement more and to be prepared to see things through.

It also emerged 51 per cent thought the leap to start their own business was an easy one – however, a quarter initially found it difficult to take the plunge. And 31 per cent think it would be more difficult to start a business now, than when they did.

One option for many is to start an LLC. The LLC is an extremely popular type of business entity for small business owners as it provides limited liability asset protection. This means that a business’s liabilities cannot become the responsibility of the business owner in their personal capacity.

For more information, consider this resource on how to start an LLC.

Difficult to get started

Despite all these complications, 74 per cent would recommend becoming their own boss.

The study also revealed 44 per cent felt a lot of business admin got in the way of what they wanted to do when they first launched.

It also emerged respondents felt it took an average of two-and-a-half years to grow their business into a success.

The study, carried out via OnePoll on behalf of accounting software firm Dext, found that following the eventual end of the pandemic, 65 per cent will actively be looking to grow their business within the following year.

General business planning, financial management support from accountants and advice on diversifying the business were seen as the main routes of help that would support business growth – with these areas also being those business owners are most likely to pay for.

Yet more than four in 10 (41 per cent) do not use an accountant.

A spokesman from accounting software Dext, which commissioned the research, said: “The hard things about running a business are not the things you probably imagined when starting out. Which is why having a team and support you can rely on is so valuable.

“The learnings of those running SME businesses has been interesting to explore in the research, and what is evident is the emergence of the need for confidence, and to surround yourself with the right kind of expertise such as bookkeepers or financial management advisors.”


1.      You shouldn’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes
2.     You need to be patient
3.     Pay attention to the small things
4.     It can be a stressful process
5.     Don’t be too downhearted if success isn’t immediate
6.     How important sales and marketing is
7.     You need to trust your judgement more
8.     Be prepared for sacrifice in your personal and professional life
9.     How much paperwork was involved in the running of a business
10.   Don’t try to do everything yourself
11.   You need to be ready to adapt your business offering
12.   It can be lonely being the founder of a business
13.   You’re not expected to know everything
14.   How difficult it is
15.   You need to be prepared to see things through in the long term
16.   Asking questions and taking opinions is a good thing
17.   To think more about cash flow
18.   It’s OK to make a loss
19.   Building relationships with suppliers is critical
20.   Hiring an accountant or bookkeeper will make your life a lot easier
21.   Take more breaks to maintain your enthusiasm
22.   You will have never done enough research
23.   How important it is to get the right people
24.   Hiring great people isn’t always easy
25.   Connect with other new business owners
26.   Don’t do something that someone else is better at
27.   Focus on one core product
28.   The fact personnel management takes a lot of time
29.   Hire people that are strong at what you are weaker at
30.   You don’t know your product as much as you think you do

Chris Price