I always tell people that I was “thrown” into entrepreneurship, because if it wasn’t for the virality of Cocoa Swatches, you would probably be able find me at your local ad agency, working behind the scenes.
Looking back, I realize it was a lack of confidence, in myself and my ideas, that disallowed me from viewing what I do now as a viable career. I am always trying to do my best to learn from my experiences (I’m still learning!) and share them along the way, so here some little insights I’ve garnered from my journey thus far.
- No one will believe in your vision like you do. There will be many people who won’t understand what you are trying to do; they will belittle your ideas, attempt to poke holes in your strategies or completely dismiss everything altogether. You can’t listen to them. Believe in your magic. People are often scared to endorse new ideas until they see others doing so.
- There are no such thing as weekends. While its absolutely OK (and necessary) to set “office hours” for your self (ex. no answering emails after midnight,) you have to abandon the idea of a traditional schedule. You may receive opportunities that require you to work through Saturday and Sunday when everyone else is seemingly relaxing or attend networking events that take precedent over boozy brunches and nights out with friends.
- Fail fast. There is no way you will do everything right. So expect to fail and be prepared to analyze what went left so you can fix the problem and iterate quickly. The faster you learn your lesson, the better for your project/company/idea..no matter what stage it is in.
- Sacrifice is inevitable. When you are starting your own venture, you most likely will have to make a few sacrifices. It may be your time with others, it may mean taking a hit to your wallet. But, if you believe in your idea and are dedicated to seeing it through, it will be worth it. Just be careful not to sacrifice everything. Which brings me to my next point..
- Prepare to find an outlet(s). I made the mistake early in my career of equating my self worth to the success of my business. That’s a no-no. I love what I do but sometimes I just need to take a breather and watch re-runs of Law & Order SVU or The Office. Finding ways to take your mind out of work mode is crucial for self-care.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Of course in the day of social media, this is waaayyyy easier said than done. I used to feel like this was impossible since my work makes it imperative that I am active on social media. I used to feel a crippling sense of failure every time I would see a new job announcement, collaboration, engagement video, vacation photo (and the list goes on,) pop on in my News Feed. But, being actively conscious of how much time I spend on social media (because let’s be honest, not all my time is spent working,) and constantly reminding myself that every one’s story is different, has helped.
- Time is $. Another mistake I made early in my career is saying “YES,” to every single opportunity. I thought by taking advantage of as much as possible, I would eventually reap some rewards. Wrong. I really just ended wasting a lot of my time and in the process missing out on many hours where I could have been more productive or taking better care of myself. When you are a one woman show, the whole business stops running when you do. I had to learn to be more discretionary with how and whom I spent time with.
- Every day is a new day. Saving the best for last. Some days are just plain ole bad days. Many days may be mundane, or have you questioning whether what you are doing even matters or if it will become successful. You will hear more no’s than yeses. But it only takes one “YES!” to change the course of your life. So I try to remind myself that every day is a new day. Even if today is shitty, I can always start again tomorrow.
Bonus: PROTECT YOUR MAGIC! People will try to take advantage of you & your time and your ideas. The business world is full of sharks and vultures. Be weary of who you share things with and give your trust to.
Extra Bonus: Learn how and when to accept help from others. You can’t do everything yourself. (Still learning this one!)