Three mistakes I made when I started my first business (and how you can avoid them)

It’s almost five years since I left my day job to start my first business. I have learned SO MUCH since then, not only about the world of online business, but about myself and what it takes to be a business owner in the online space. 

My business now is very different to the one I started in 2016 and I want to share with you three key lessons from my experiences and what you can do to avoid making the same mistakes I made in the early days. (Or, if you find you haven’t avoided these mistakes, help you to regroup and realise that you’re very far from alone, because I’ve since learned all these mistakes are pretty common).

In case we don’t know each other very well, I’m Elle Turner and I’m a business mindset mentor for entrepreneurs & creatives who want to develop the CLARITY & MINDSET needed to ditch feelings of fear, self-doubt & imposter syndrome & instead take assured ACTION towards achieving their business goals.

That’s what I do now, because I learned (the hard way and not quickly enough!) that this is the work that supports your ability to start, build and grow your own, unique, heart-led business. Absolutely, the work learning all about marketing, social media, pricing strategies and how to create the best product or service offers is important, but in my experience it’s having a strong personal foundation that makes or breaks our ability to take assured action on the ‘external’ work at all.

In a nutshell, In 2016 I opened the online doors to my eco-friendly stationery business and did what I now consider to be a self-created apprenticeship in online business. Although that period has turned out to be invaluable to what I do now, I wouldn’t recommend the accidental, haphazard and fear-ridden way I muddled through the first couple of years or so to anyone.

So let’s get into the mistakes I made*, lessons I learned and what you can do to start, build and grow your business with more clarity, confidence and ease.

Mistake #1: I didn’t realise mindset work was ‘a thing’

When I started my first business I focused on what I needed to learn to be able DO what I needed to DO

And although I came across the subject of mindset, I didn’t pay all that much attention to it, because I thought mindset was something that was only influenced by external circumstances. 

I thought my mindset would change (that is, I would feel better about my business and my abilities) when I saw evidence that my business was going to work.

I was full of:

  • Self doubt
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Fear
  • Limiting beliefs, like I wasn't good enough, nor deserving of success

But I thought those feelings would go if I sold lots of stock and had people messaging me telling me how much they loved my notebooks, note cards and prints.

I saw my mindset as a by-product of external evidence of success and therefore sales and nice comments would end my worries and prove I was good at this ‘business thing’.

This turned out not to be the case and eventually I realised I had everything back to front.


Lesson #1


When I took active steps to work on my mindset, (which I started to do through journaling, although more by luck than intention initially), to see mindset work as a priority business activity and to focus on building myself as a business owner as well as building my business, I was able to approach my work, as I do now, with more confidence, energy and ease.


Action you can take now

The first step is to get on board with the concept that it’s PRIORITISING the ‘inner work’ - such as mindset work - that will enable you to make the ‘external work’ that you want to bring to the world happen.

Mindset work is not a ‘nice to do’ or luxury forbidden by time constraints. It’s worthy of your time, attention and intention. Make it a priority to incorporate mindset work into your daily routine.

Mistake #2 I didn’t recognise which of my ‘issues’ were mindset issues


When I bumped up against imposter syndrome, self-sabotage, fear, perfectionism and all the other painful and debilitating thoughts and feelings, I thought it was just me and that these feelings were proof I was deluded when I thought I could run my own business and create my life around what mattered to me most.

What I now know to be true is that these feelings are so common, it’s actually quite embarrassing how unoriginal I was being by feeling that way! 😅


Lesson #2


When we do something big and bold (like start a business), the learning curve, personal responsibility and actions we need to take are out of our comfort zone. It’s our brain’s natural reaction to try to protect us from possible discomfort, rejection and failure (all of which our brain rather dramatically sees - in the absence of sabre tooth tigers online - as ‘dangers’ to our safety).

Our brain therefore tries to do whatever it can to stop us doing whatever risks that safety, hence the feelings we have that block our ability to take the actions we need to take towards our business goals.

(All the scientists can come out from behind the sofa now, my lay person's interpretation of the science is now complete!)


Everything that was holding me back was, at its core, a mindset issue.

Even when it appeared to me that I had a strategy issue, for example being unclear on the best way to get my message to my audience, my problem could be traced back to, for example, being indecisive because of fear of choosing the wrong approach and making a mistake that would lead to failure.

Working on your mindset so that you have the confidence to make decisions and take action believing that you will find a solution even if your first attempt doesn’t work and that you’ll be more equipped to do so with the experience of taking action behind you, is a mindset that allows you to become unstuck and move forward.

Action you can take now

Pick ONE issue in your business that you’re stuck on and journal to uncover the mindset issue at its core. 

Mistake #3 I didn’t prioritise self-care.

Much as I dislike the term self-care (just a personal thing), the concept is sound (not only in business). YOU are the biggest asset in your business and if you don’t take care of yourself, (physically, mentally and emotionally) you’ll be more susceptible to burnout, overwhelm and feeling as though everything’s a struggle.


Lesson #3


Even though you likely have a long To Do list and many activities filling your day, are taking care of yourself FIRST?

And by taking care of yourself, yes of course through eating good food, hydrating and getting fresh air and the other healthy day to day maintenance activities.

But primarily I mean taking care of yourself, enhancing your happiness and generally lifting your life game through focusing on your own personal growth to support your business activities.

Are you focusing on gaining clarity, cultivating, managing and maintaining your mindset and recognising this as a legitimate, I'd say essential, business priority to support you as you go about doing the big, bright and brilliant work you want to do?

And to form the foundation of your business success springboard from which you can create the impact you desire and have a positive effect on those around you and the wider world.

Action you can take now

Grab your journal and think about - What you’re going to commit to doing to take care of you?

Here’s the thing:

Even events you consider to be positive changes in your life (such as starting your own business because you see how it can be the vehicle for you to get what you want for your life and have the impact in the world that you want to have) can be an upheaval, stirring up limiting beliefs and clouding clarity. 

That’s why it’s so important to do the inner work FIRST and as a priority business activity. The external work (marketing, messaging, getting visible, learning the tech etc) won’t take care of itself but it will be easier to achieve when the inner work is getting the attention it needs to support you as you move forward.

And that’s why I’ve developed and ongoing journaling practice to build my business mindset and support me in my business so that I have CLARITY on who I am, what I want, what I need to do for my own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, and helps me manage my MINDSET and take ACTION with this ‘Business Success Springboard’ firmly in place.

If this resonates with you, I have a FREE Masterclass that might interest you.

Make Your Business Work for YOU is available NOW

Find the clarity, confidence and energy to start and grow your business in the way you’ve wanted to for SO long, so that you can finally achieve success and fulfilment through the work you want to bring to the world. 

You started your business for a reason.

It’s time to make IT work for YOU.

Sign up to gain access to Make Your Business Work for YOU, the Masterclass to help you achieve what you want from your business so that you get what you want for your life.

Elle xo

*This post complements my free guide 3 mistakes keeping you stuck in business and what to do instead. Grab your copy here!

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