Seven years ago, I started a business. Tomorrow, I'm letting it go.
It was always a better idea in theory than in practice, and the numerous multi-national businesses to which I pitched it loved it. But none of them hired me. The work I did get was a more basic version of what I was offering, and not something that interested me at all.
In the beginning, I worked full-time, with a view to creating something I could do part-time and with flexible hours, around having a family. About the time I accepted the work I would be getting wasn't what I wanted to be doing, I was offered an out: we were going to move from London to Toronto. I then started thinking about what I could do with all of the information I had gathered, and I considered putting it on my website so at least it wouldn't go to waste. But I started to see that information was going out of date fast. And now, three years later, after having done nothing with it, I realised I was done.
That was two days ago.
But it was not for naught. In the process of looking for ways to promote the business, I got in touch with Here Is The City, and I've been working with them part-time ever since. So maybe that was the biggest lesson I learned: you can set out to do one thing, but find that a different option will work out even better.
Here's what else I learned: Do what you love and the money will follow ... is not exactly true. The fun, however, will follow. But fun won't give you money for food or shoes, though (unless you're creating a food or fashion PR business, of course). I also learned that you have friends who can help you (advisers, graphic designers, printers), and it's worth it to pay a company that will register your business and file all of the paperwork, as well as one like 1and1 website to take care of your online life (unless you're creating a web services company, of course).
Furthermore, starting (and ending) your own business is simply good experience. It's entirely different from working for a company, and it makes you that much more well-rounded as a working person.
To quote the late author, Douglas Adams, "I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be."