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Every entrepreneur has things they'd do differently next time. — Getty Images/gustavofrazao

Nobody is ever fully prepared to run a business. You may have read books and articles, attended conferences, taken courses, and talked to other professionals in the industry, but there are some things about entrepreneurship you have to learn through firsthand experience.

These entrepreneurs CO— recently interviewed have certainly made a lot of strides since launching their businesses. However, there are a few things they'd have done differently if they had the chance.

Knowing what they know now, here's what five business owners would change about their entrepreneurial journey.

1. Save up more money.

Would-be business owners hear it over and over again: You're not going to turn a profit right away, so you need to have money saved up to sustain yourself before you quit your day job. And yet, so many entrepreneurs decide to take the leap before that point, simply because they feel like they can't wait any longer.

Like so many others who start a business without much of a capital reserve, Gene Marks, president of The Marks Group, says he wishes he'd had more money in the bank before launching his venture.

"We were able to eke our way through, but … it takes capital to launch businesses," said Marks. "Rather than having a year's worth of savings, I wish I'd had two years' worth of savings. It would have eased a lot of the stress."

2. Delegate sooner.

When you first launch your business, you'll likely take on a lot of the "grunt" work that it takes to keep the company going. Eventually you'll be able to delegate a lot of those tasks through hiring or outsourcing. C. Craig Lambert, president and founder of CCVRS, Inc., wishes he had started this process much sooner in his business's timeline.

"I would have … empowered people a little bit earlier," he said. "Those first couple of years, you're working 100 hours a week. You just gotta do what you gotta do."

Entrepreneurs told CO— what they would do differently next time. — CO—

Pace yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so conserve your energy!

Funlayo Alabi, CEO and co-founder of Shea Radiance

3. Make time for self-care.

The "hustle" of entrepreneurship is often glorified. Many business owners wear their 24/7 work schedule as a badge of honor, when, in reality, they're just burning themselves out.

"I should have slept a bit more and tried to take care of myself a bit better," said Alexa Von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest. "I really was grinding myself to the bone."

Tobel wouldn't go so far as to say she should have relaxed more, though. "I think it was the fact that I wasn't relaxed that really helped me build the business," she said.

4. Plan spending more carefully.

In the early days, many entrepreneurs tend to spend money on whatever business need is most pressing at the moment. Looking back, Izzy's Ice Cream co-founder Jeff Sommers would have been more careful about when and where he spent his money.

"We were super passionate in the beginning and weren't thinking about return on investment," he said. "Today, with more at stake … each dollar … is a lot more important than we ever imagined in the early years."

5. Pace yourself.

It's easy to get ahead of yourself and believe that your business is going to blow up overnight. However, Funlayo Alabi, CEO and co-founder of Shea Radiance, says she wishes she'd had a more realistic idea of how long it would take to achieve the growth she wanted. "Pace yourself," said Alabi. "This is a marathon, not a sprint, so conserve your energy!"

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published February 25, 2019