Starting a small business can be one of the most exciting experiences in your life. In some cases it is the literal reinvention of yourself. For me, I never really intended to start a business and never gave it that much thought. I simply had a passion for my work and it naturally transformed into a business. This might sound pretty cool but really it is not a very good way for things to happen; you will understand why as I share a little bit of my story.

I studied jazz guitar in college and I always planned on being a professional musician or maybe even a music teacher. Like many students, while I was in school I had a hard time being able to afford a guitar that was of high enough quality to really get the kind of sound and playability that I needed for my exercises and performances in class.

Coming from a background of woodworking, I had the idea of building myself a guitar. I figured it would be a lot cheaper and it sounded like fun.

So over a period of time I built my first guitar using whatever materials I could find and scrounging for tools that would get the job done. To my surprise, I found that building guitars was just something I could do well, maybe even what God designed me to do. Eventually, after being asked to make guitars for my college guitar instructors and other players, I ended up being a guitar maker by trade.

Because my career just seemed to happen to me and because of my creative personality type, I began my career with no plan whatsoever, just a starry eyed artist wandering out into the mysterious future letting his destiny unfold. Needless to say, this approach can lead to many problems from a business standpoint. I traveled a very difficult road, but I have come a long way since then and learned a great deal both in my craft and my business.

Today I am very satisfied with my work and feel a great sense of accomplishment at having endured the long years and many trials and coming out on the other side a better person with better guitars too.

The good news is that I don’t believe it has to be as hard for you as it was for me. That’s why I’m happy to share with you a few lessons I learned the hard way that might help you avoid some of the common pitfalls many new business owners encounter as they venture out into their own entrepreneurial destiny.

1. Balance Your Craft and Your Business

One of the first important realizations I came to was that just because hand crafting guitars came so naturally to me, didn’t mean that I was by any means good at running a guitar making business. They are two totally different skills, and for me the latter is much harder to master. I am still and always will be a head in the clouds dreamer, reaching for the ultimate quality regardless of cost. But I am happy to report that you can find a balance by incorporating some structure into your business that enables you to to keep reaching for the stars, just in a little more controlled and consistent way.

The first step to getting a handle on this aspect of running a small business for me was a book that I highly recommend. It helped me understand this concept and find ways to make the necessary changes in the areas I was struggling with and is called “The E- Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael E. Gerber.

2. Cultivate Your Business Organically

Once you can incorporate some restraint and measured application of your powerful creative drive to pursue excellence, you can make the wisest choice you can ever make: to not go into debt. This choice doesn’t seem like a possibility in some people’s minds, I know it took me along time to realize that the debt-based system almost always ends in failure. Not borrowing when you are starting your business will force you to have restraint and move at the slow steady pace necessary for healthy growth.