Offices aren't prestigious anymore
For my first couple years as an entrepreneur, I was constantly trying to figure out ways to rent office space. I thought that it would add prestige or glamour to my business. I didn't have enough cash flow to justify office rent, and therefore sacrificed the office in favor of working hard to deliver an amazing service. I then became aware of virtual offices, in which $80 per month got me a prestigious address in the heart of Washington DC's business district. Recently, my company moved into a real office, and while it's nice, all the glamour I had envisioned was in fact just a fantasy. I wish I had realized sooner that a business is offering a great product or services and has a growing clientele is what really mattered. Everything else is just gravy, including the all-too-coveted office.
Word-of-Mouth is the Best Marketing
When I started The Cutler Group, my time was split between offering a great service to existing clients and marketing my services to potential new clients. As the months progressed, I realized that those clients for which I had performed best began referring me to new clients. The deals from referrals were easy to close because of the strong endorsement from other satisfied clients. From that point, it all clicked: spend 100 percent of my time delivering an incredible service, so my clients will be thrilled and will refer me to new clients. This is by far the best marketing strategy a 21st-century company can execute. Had I known it from the outset, perhaps my client base would be double what it is now. Seth Godin provides a great in-depth explanation about word-of-mouth marketing in his book Purple Cow.
Accounting Software Is Key
As a bootstrap entrepreneur, the $300 investment in accounting software seemed unnecessary, especially with my command of Excel. This turned out to be absolutely wrong. For the first year in my business, I spent many wasted hours trying to remember which clients had paid, who owed me money, what expenses I needed to write off with my tax returns, etc. It turned out to be a big headache that caused me untold amounts of time. Therefore, I encourage all budding entrepreneurs to invest in accounting software from day one. It's not just about convenience, accounting software is essential for the legal and financial organization of your business.