As an optimist I usually don’t spend too much time thinking about the past and avoid wasting time on the “what if” question regarding my small business. What if I had started blogging from the get-go? Would my site get more traffic today? Would I have built more relationships with other bloggers and my blog posts would be shared way more often?

“Don’t cry over spilled milk”

… is my motto. But I didn’t write this post for myself, I wrote it for the aspiring small business owner, for you, who is just starting your adventure into entrepreneurship. I wrote the following list with the hope that it might help you avoid some of the mistakes I made, or shorten the time it takes to get your business off its feet!

7 things I’d do differently if I were to start my small business today:

1. I’d start blogging from the get-go. It took me a while to realize the benefits of writing a regular business blog. I thought I had nothing to say, feared the time investment, and shied away from the exposure. And don’t think it was all easy when I finally did start. Not at all. I heard nothing but crickets and thought I was talking to myself. But if I start something I rarely give up (except for sports) and so I kept going. I advise you do the same. Maybe one day I’ll see your name on the list of AllBusiness Experts.

2. I’d start my e-mail list from day 1. Along with blogging I’d also start building my e-mail list from day one. And I’d choose a tool with growth in mind. When I first started out I chose Mailchimp because it was recommended for small business owners. And I still recommend it to some clients, because it is a good tool. But for me it wasn’t enough anymore, because my list rapidly grew and became the centerpiece of my business. I changed from Mailchimp to Aweber (and lost a lot of subscribers in the process, which is inevitable). So my advice: start building your list from day one, but don’t choose the cheapest tool available. Consider the different options and then choose a tool with growth in mind.

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3. I’d build my website with WordPress. I’m only partly to be blamed for this one. Back when I started, WordPress wasn’t as popular, so I started building my website with another tool. But if I’d start today, I would definitely use WordPress and even though I learned a lot in building it myself, I would not do it again. I would outsource this task to someone who does not only understand design and code, but also has an idea about inbound marketing. Your website should work for you and get you new clients on a regular basis.

4. I wouldn’t print 2,000 business cards. When you have finalized your logo and brand identity you will feel very proud! And you should! But rather than passing a print order of 2,000 business cards, just give yourself a good tap on the back, or treat yourself to a glass of wine. Businesses evolve and maybe already 6 months later you wished you had added another service to your business card. My advice: always print business cards in small batches.

5. I’d work hard on my elevator speech. I still remember going totally unprepared to networking events and then stuttering when someone asked me, “What do you do?” You need to prepare your elevator speech! In 30 seconds you need to be able to communicate who you help and how you help them. Practice in front of a mirror.

6. I’d immediately start building relationships with influencers. One of the best ways to get noticed fast is by building relationships with influencers in your industry. In the times of social media this has become easier than ever. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their blogs, invest in some of their one-on-one programs, mention them in your blogs, etc. There are endless ways of getting to know influencers in your field.

7. I’d implement video into my marketing strategy from day one. Last but not least, I’d push myself harder to get over the fear of appearing on video. As small business owners, one of the main advantages we have over corporates is our uniqueness. Your uniqueness shows the best on video and it’s the best way to build trust with your community.

I’ve made more than 7 mistakes in the past 3 years of entrepreneurship. And as you probably know, making mistakes is part of the journey. But if we met over coffee and you asked me, “What would you do differently if you were to start your small business today?”, that’s what I would tell you.

It’s unlikely that we’ll meet for coffee, but I’d love to count you among my loyal subscribers and see you on a future webinar about small business topics. Sign up below and get my free “21 Ways to Get More Traffic to your Site” e-book.

Sarah Santacroce is the Small Business & Social Media Marketing Mentor at Simplicity - Simple Small Business Solutions.